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What sucks about multimedia on your PC?

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  • User profile image
    Slartibartf​ast

    Just a silly comment, but still an issue.

    Why does the  chosen skin determine the maximum size you can scale the video to?  I can see a lot of technical reasons, but no practical ones, from the users' point of view.

    I've ended up using the gray "blob" skin, even though it frankly looks like s**t.

  • User profile image
    stevex

    Here are the killers for me.

     - Windows Media Player is slow.  When I double-click on a video file that's on my local machine, it can take 3 or 4 seconds before it starts playing the first time.  Seriously, what's going on here?  Other media players don't have this problem.  It's frustrating.

     - The automatic codec downloading needs to support third party codecs.  If I want to look at a video I found on a website, I shouldn't need to know what codec I need to install; WMP should be able to figure that out and install it.

     - (Windows in general..)  When I'm using my PC as a media player, I need a way of making everything else in the OS stay quiet.  I used my laptop to play video and audio for a live production and I was SO afraid that something was going to pop up a reminder that I need to register, or something like that, while I was 'live'.

    On the system I'm using (a Thinkpad T41, 1.4 Ghz centrino with a gig of RAM) I just invoked WMP.  It showed up in about 3 seconds.  I went to the Media Library and clicked on a song that's on my local system.  It took EIGHT SECONDS before it started playing.

    If you're not seeing this in your testing, then you need to figure out why not, because your customers are.

     - Steve

  • User profile image
    Mike Dimmick

    I notice a lot of people complaining about poor performance when ripping CDs. Typically, this is due to the CD drive being in Programmed I/O (PIO) mode rather than in Direct Memory Access (DMA) mode. Windows XP seems to default to PIO. To change, go to Device Manager (devmgmt.msc), bring up Properties on the IDE channel your CD drive is connected to (normally under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers > Secondary IDE Controller) and look at the Advanced tab. Make sure all the options are set to 'DMA if available'.

    PIO mode requires using processor cycles to explicitly copy from an I/O port to a memory location, and modern processors pretty much suck at I/O port manipulation (since they don't have to do it that often - almost every device in your computer uses DMA). DMA works by having the IDE controller steal bus cycles.

    If you don't have an Advanced tab, you may have installed an alternate IDE driver. I did this on this machine because the hard disk was only detected at UDMA Mode 0 (16Mbps transfers) rather than Mode 5, ATA-100. See the driver's documentation for details on configuration. If your CD drive can't do DMA, it's ancient and you should replace it.

    For general system performance with Windows, you need a fast hard drive. Look for a disk with ATA/100 or 133 bus transfer speed and a 7200rpm spindle speed, and at least 2MB on-drive buffer cache. True A/V disks are normally SCSI with 10k or 15krpm spindle speed. I'm a fan of IBM/Hitachi DeskStar drives.

    Unfortunately many OEMs skimp on this and give you cruddy 5400 or even 4500 rpm drives, but still quote ATA/133. Fast bus transfer speed is no use if the drive can't actually suck the bits off the disk at that speed.

    Oh, and make sure your CD drive isn't on the same channel as your hard drive, if using IDE. IDE can't address both drives on the same channel simultaneously: once a command is sent to a drive, no commands can be sent to the other drive until the first drive responds. SCSI has multiple simultaneous access - commands can be pending on multiple devices simultaneously.

  • User profile image
    lars

    I'm fighting an uphill battle to use the old unskinned media player (mplayer2.exe). WMP9 has a mind of it's own and has a tendency to "steal" back the extension associations. Drives me nuts. I'm an old dog and WMP9 is a new trick.

    I don't want skins. At all. Period.

    Something that annoys me alot about WMP9 is that the spacebar does not PAUSE the movie anymore. Believe it or not, but that is a deal breaker for me right there. When I watch a movie on my HTPC in a dark room I want to be easy to pause.

    I don't like the way it sometimes goes out on the net to find CODECs that is already installed. It attempts to find a codec, fails, and then plays the movie anyway. Totally whack.

    I'd like to find a way to get WMP to play full screen no matter if it loses focus. I've got dual monitors and I'd like to be able to run full screen on one of the monitors and work with applications on the other. Right now it leaves full screen mode if I start working with something else on the other monitor.

    MPEG2 playback has to be included. I don't care if you give me the "this is a free product" speech. Sometimes it's a free product, and sometimes it a part of the OS. As an end user - I don't really care.
    If WMP doesn't cut it, I'll use another player. It's as easy as that. (No disrespect intended.)

    /Lars.




  • User profile image
    vinil

    I can't help comparing WMP with JetAudio. Some of the features that I like about JetAudio are:
    1. Playlist mgmt, I can set JetAudio to play media (be it videos (most formats, including realmedia), songs (again all formats including realmedia) (it also pops up rtf/txt lyric files), midi (my brother uses the PC to mix music, so he has midi playlists) and streaming media

    In fact, since I've started to use Win2K3 as my dev. machine, I have enabled streaming server and put my playlists as publish points. I like this way of managing my playlists (since i used to put my playlists on the desktop, and then one fine day, when bootup becomes slow and my profile becomes bloated, had to move all the files from desktop into c:\desktopAsOnSomeFineDay and lo! all my playlists are lost...) And, the playlist editor bundled with the MediaServer ROCKS!!! The only grudge--no RealMedia or QT support Sad(

    2. Recording from any of the ports (line-in/mic) and applying a codec to it


    3. Recording from streaming media

    4. Ctrl+Shift+P pauses/starts my song irrespective of the app I am in. I don't need to switch to JetAudio.

    5. A very neat functional interface (not that it matters much Wink

    Now, what I like about WMP. mplayer2 simply is an awesome video player! Its speed is amazing!!!

    The toolbar trick is neat in WMP9.


    Now coming to the "Media" experience.

    One thing which will improve the entire user experience would be to bring the experience on the PC atleast upto the TV level, Which means getting rid of the blocky playback and lagged dialogues.
    WMP could have an internal measure of the fps and the playback delay, and then pop up to the user (again configurable) and suggest that you could have a better experience watching this video, if you would disable some unnecessary services like the themes service, the Computer Browser service etc. (I mean unnecessary system hogs) and free up resources.

    And, if enough resources are available, it can increase the resolution, or change the sampling rate etc. (basically try and collect data intelligently and make the experience better). Of course, the user should be able to configure these, since I personally would want to know what kind of decisions are being made by my media player to give me a better playback.

    Another thing I have observed with most media players is their reluctance to relinquish the multi-media resources they have acquired. It pains me no end to wait for the screen to return to normal, after I click the close button on a movie window. It should be fast, and not make me regret the decision to close the window instead of restarting my computer (the computer in question is a P-II MMX (166 MHz) with 48 MB RAM, 2.1 G HDD), yes guys, those machines are still out there in hordes, and people do want to watch "Lord of the Rings" on DVDs on those machines running Win98)

    Hmm... Is that all? I will check my neurons for more,
    In the meantime,
    Regards,
    Vinil

  • User profile image
    BinaryBoy

    Ah. This hits home. My software finds and downloads movies and other files from Usenet and one thing that really burns people up is when they download a 100MB avi file only to find that Windows Media Player can't find the codec. Has WMP ever found any codec for anyone ever? I've never seen it happen.

    Second problem is the ever so fragile avi format itself. Unlike with mpeg files, if just one part of the avi file is damaged or missing, the entire thing becomes unplayable. With mpegs, users are able to download the first part of the file, play it to preview it and then decide whether they want to download the whole thing. The mpeg format can be as torn up as a block of swiss cheese blasted by shotgun and it will continue to work as long as the first part exists. 

  • User profile image
    OldManCoyote

    Some of the issues that I've experienced:

    1. No support for alternate video/audio codecs; one usually has to download them prior to start the media item. My favorites are: Gordian Knot (Divx/XviD) found at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/gordianknot/ There are at leased 40+ out there that should be supported. Some are under the GNU/GPL, but can be offered if the library is not altered (DLL) and no charge is incurred.

    2. The 2-3 second delay (as discribed above).

    3. Integration into Explorer (a bug): When on an alternate drive (using a Promise, HotPoint etc. ATA-133 extention card), the IE will lockup when hovering over a media item it doesn't like. Because of the 'integration' with media playing into Explorer I have no choice but always to preview it if I where to hover over it or select it. I usually avoid using WMP 9.x at all costs on any extension ATA-133 cards.

    4. The bogus skin: why don't you guys do a proper skinning job on it. WinAmp, FreeAmp, etc. all have decent rendering and drag-able skins. WMP has his bogus skin, that hides its TLW frame. I'd say skin it all, or don't bother skinning it.

    (I use to make mp3 players for living btw.)




  • User profile image
    OldManCoyote

    5. Oh, and why does it require 18.5 meg of memory to play a simple 128Kbps, 44.1Khz mp3 file? Bogus!

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    Well the #1 gripe with the audio experience on Windows today has to be the fact that you seem to need half a dozen different media player applications and then each one seems to insist on becoming your preferred player without actually asking you.

    Aside from that, I'd really like to be able to have playlists based on the type of music without having to hand create them. Being able to say "I want to listen to some classical music" or "I want something loud and angry" would be really cool.

    And one last thing while I'm ranting, what is it about media player applications that means they all have to be "skinned"? I find it distracting having something that stands out so prominantly on the desktop (Realplayer, Quicktime, Winamp and WMP are all guilty of this). Grrrrr...

  • User profile image
    bigboss12085

    My biggest issue with mediaplayer is the license system for copy protected music. I know I was dumb enough to make all my music copy protected when I first backed it up off CD, but now I find that every few months or so I'm having to reformat my drive and when I do, I always, and I mean always have problems updating the licenses after reinstalling windows.

    am I the only one??


    p.s. incase its a point of interest for anyone, the machine I use as a main/test machine is:
    400MHz PII
    256MB RAM
    60GB hd
    4MB ATi onboard gfx
    onboard sound
    onboard lan
    intel 56k modem
    winxp pro sp-2

  • User profile image
    OldManCoyote

    bigboss12085 wrote:
    My biggest issue with mediaplayer is the license system for copy protected music. I know I was dumb enough to make all my music copy protected when I first backed it up off CD, but now I find that every few months or so I'm having to reformat my drive and when I do, I always, and I mean always have problems updating the licenses after reinstalling windows.


    I'd have to agree. After years of listen and comparing with mp3 and wma, I'd have to say wma does win on overall frequency responce in its codec.

    But the overall usability of wma with its reconcilable integration of its DRM will eventually kill the format. Why go to the trouble of ripping all of your music library, when its 'bound' to that perticular hardware PC setup and OS. One can't even copy it over to an alternate home PC, let alone the Media Center, without it become inopperable.

    The DRM free formats will win in the long run, such as Ogg, AAC, mp3, etc.

  • User profile image
    eddwo

    This is quite funny, you're asking a question and not getting the answers you expect.

    Most people have complained about UI issues, about Codec support and slowness in loading, not about audio or video "glitches" during playback.

    The reported plans for Longhorn include a new initiative for "glitch-free" media playback, this includes changes to the kernels scheduler to allocate fixed amounts of CPU time to particular processes and also involves changes to the driver model. This seems to me to be a pretty drastic change to make to critical parts of the system for fairly marginal benifits, and from the feedback so far it seems not to be a high priority. I know Avalon will make it a lot easier to include video playback in applications, so chances are people will have several programs using video at the same time but I am still to be convinced that such drastic changes are necessary,

    Longhorn is also set to include a new Universal Audio Architecture http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/audio/UAA.mspx
    which, if this screenshot is to be believed, will enable you to set different volume levels on a per-application basis.
    http://www.winsupersite.com/images/showcase/lh-winhec-02.png
    So the problem of Outlook blasting out when you turn the volume up to listen to music should be solved.

    Linux now has ALSA http://www.alsa-project.org/ and OSX has Core Audio http://developer.apple.com/audio/coreaudio.html so it's about time Windows had a similar centralised audio architecture.


    The codec situation is pretty poor I agree. For some reason REAL and Apple seem to have refused to make codecs compatible with DirectShow, the centralised media architecture in windows, and so require their own seperate players. Personally I think all players ought to be able to play all formats and Windows should include codecs for Real and Quicktime as the most popular internet formats, in much the same way as it includes support for Macromedia flash. There should also be a service similar to the file extension lookup service that tells you which codec you need and where to download it, for codecs that Microsoft cannot legally provide. Also DVD playback should be supported out of the box, i know there are licensing issues there as well, but surely it wouldn't be more than a couple of doller per copy of windows, a price that could easily be absorbed. At the moment you can download an avi and WMP will not be able to locate a codec, but there is no easy way of finding out even what codec it was looking for.

    As far as ripping goes I now use iTunes for ripping MP3s and Rio Manager for creating oggs for my Rio Karma. I think WMP didn't include a MP3 encoder initially because of licensing costs from Fraunhoffer but iTunes now provides an MP3 encoder for free wheras WMP requires an add on pack. I do think its pretty stupid that WMP by default use DRM on the WMAs it creates, seriously who wants to place restrictions on their own audio from their own CDs? It only causes problems with licenses and interoperability. It is an optional setting but enough people have not realised it was enabled and have gotten stuck with loads of their own audio they cannot playback anymore.

    Also WMP calls all my DVDs "Unknown DVD", possibly because they are all Region 2 and not recognised by whatever database it is looking up in, but I think if the feature is there it ought to offer international support.

    Fullscreen playback ought to support multimonitors properly.

  • User profile image
    intelman

    I dont know if its software that makes multimedia on the pc suck, its getting the content.  Sometimes streaming videos just aren't as high of quality that I like (Windows Media 9 streaming system actually seems to be nice).  Another thing is hardware, I wish 20+ inch monitors were afordable.  As you mentioned, sometimes anti virus software will scan while watching a movie, usually it is unaffected by the scan, but sometimes a interruption can be noticed.

  • User profile image
    Shining Arcanine

    scobleizer wrote:
    What's the first things you'd like to see us work on some more?


    Codec support. I'd like to see default support for DivX, Quicktime, Real, MPEG-4, etc. Please don't ask me what codecs are represented by etc as it is meant to mean every codec that I didn't specify.

    I'd like to see the ability to minimize to the system tray. The taskbar real estate that WMP uses has always bothered me and I don't want to have it taken up by WMP when I'm doing mutitasking and want to listen to music when I'm doing it.

  • User profile image
    WillemM

    I got a rather fast PC:

    P4 2800 MHz hyperthreading
    512 MB memory
    160 GB harddisk
    Geforce FX 5600

    But still some parts are going slow Sad
    I can't play some games on a resonable speed when all the beauty options are turned on...
    It seems like the vga-cards aren't used as optimal as they could. Most companies say they support hardware rendering, but I haven't seen a game yet that uses that option completely :\

    Is it the documentation, or is it just the people that make the game??

  • User profile image
    DonnyEMU

    Hmm, I came to the PC in 1993-1994 from the Amiga platform, here's what I miss in terms of PC multimedia stuff that I had in the "old days"..


    1) Better interoperability between media types and software.. I keep finding all of these cool tools out there and figuring out that I don't have the right codec installed, or I am not sure of the capabilities of the CODEC I have installed (can I really encode an MP3 at 320??), without some deep examination. in some tool that has no standard interface (like Gspot).

    I think the interface to codecs needs to get exposed as a control panel item, so I can control the codecs, on the machine, know what capabilities I have what I have installed. Right now it's up to programs to tell me this, but there is no standard way to know this kind of information (though it exists internally in the system and is easy for  programmers to get at.)...

    The media player interface to me now hides way too much information from the user. It's now more aimed at people playing back media more than it is people using it to create new media.. I think there needs to be a better balance there between playback and DRM, and what you can do to create media with your machine in the UI.

    Right now it seems  quite stiffled with you just seeing all the DRM stuff in there and the advertising..

    The Amiga/EA did something right called IFF (an old set of interchangable file standards).  I wish today there was a more "Generic"  windows set of  file formats across the board for portability of files.. Example:  In addition to Photoshop for instance saving a PSD format there was a " windows layered bitmap format".. 

    Build an open api that lets you install file formats for loading and saving and installing and removing codecs into the OS that's exposed to the user in a more standard way, that 3rd party ISVs and everyone can support (even people doing vbscripting). If it's already in there (::wink:Smiley open it more up to the user.. I would like to see an API that allows someone to say install a JPEG "loader/saver" that works with every program you could install in the operating system accross the board. It becomes a system capability, not a dll that works with some programs and not others (a system wide plug-in so to speak)..

    So if companies wanted their own file format standards they could still have it, just give them another saver format for portability between windows applications (maybe something based on XML)..  3D meshes today is a good example of something needing a "common format". But not a "limited" format, it needs to be something extensible..

    Everything is way too propietary with file formats today (3d objects, bitmaps, etc.) and the file converters rarely do a perfect job of rendering from one format to the next. I think Microsoft would be doing a good thing to support both industry standards and "meta" standards that would allow people to move data across formats while in windows more easily. Not just the kind you find in Office today..

    With WinFX/Avalon/Aero, this other stuff needs to get exposed too. Leave it open for 3rd parties to add on as they see fit. Publish this and make it available OUTSIDE of MSDN even..

    I also miss a general purpose media authoring tool. We have movie maker, but I want something to author with (buttons, UI, etc).. Apple has always had hypercard in the past, the Amiga had Amigavision.. Why not integrate media types and create a general media integration tool.. It would empower windows users to do more with their systems..

  • User profile image
    Ovidiu.​Platon

    My main complaint about Windows Media Player would be its performance (especially the working set).

    I used Winamp from version 0.x to this day. What I particularly enjoy about it is the fact that it really allows you to "pay as you go". In Winamp 5, if I disable all the shiny features, I get a working set as small as the one in v1 or v2.xx (I can prove that with vadump logs or perfmon logs if you wish).

    That never happened with WMP (I'm still evaluating v10 though). V9 sucked big time, it's painful to get rid of all the useless shiny features and you get no real benefit, the working set is about the same.

    The second complaint would be about usability. Previous posters have made a good job complaining about this so I won't do it again.

  • User profile image
    LCARS

    As far as WMP goes.... One of my biggest problems has been the default "Fullmode" interface.

    There doesn't seem to be any standard for laying out the interface. It kinda seems like they just threw a bunch of buttons on there. 

    I think that the program relies a bit too much on menus. Anytime I need to go do something useful (like open a media file or access a playlist) I have to go menu diving.

    I did a rough count and found around 29 menus! And they were all under some obscure button!

    Don't get me wrong, I think WMP is a great program. It just needs some interface improvements.

    Also, better support for adding/editing playlists would be great. Maybe consider adding in smart playlists? And of course a more intuitive interface for managing them!

    Smiley

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