thats a long post, i think ill have breakfast while reading it
This is something that has plagued me for some time. The best method to browse and play your MP3's in the car. To date, no software im aware of does this the way i imagine. Im posting to see what you guys think is the best method for you and maybe get a consensus of the top methods. Please think about it and give it some consideration and dont just think the way youve been doing it for years is the best way. How would you do it, if it were completely up to you.
For me, a couple things are super important in a car setting.
Browseing needs to be fast and also in a way where you can find that certain music and still keep your eyes on the road. Browseing also needs its very own screen to take up maximum viewing area so when you do need to look at a list of dir, its nice and big and easy to see and click/touch. These few things are critical to me while in the car, and the last thing someone needs is to get into an accident screwing around with there computer.
How would i set up browseing if it were up to me.
I believe a CD should be treated like a CD, weather its digital or the actual disk, all songs associated with that CD should be treated as one unit. Switching between one CD to the next should be as easy as skipping from one song to the next on a CD. I shouldnt have to look for the artist or album to find what i want (unless i want to), i should be able to click through albums until i get to the artist i want to hear.
So i would have the standard play, pause, ffwd,rwd buttons but i would also have skip fwd/ skip bak album buttons that would skip to the next album in my library. An album can be defined or detected by the software by id3 tags or by dir location depending how you have the stuff sorted. I also would have a quick find mode where you click once and it will skip forward through each album and play 30sec of the first track, then skip to the next album so you can skip through albums and keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Soon as it gets to where you want to be, turn the quick find off and it plays that album. Options for people (like me) with huge music library's would include skip X number of albums if you click and hold the quick find button for X number of sec to quickly jump to an album you know is going to take a while to get to with the above method.
When viewing your entire library from a list i think all the options we have now (in wmp/ winamp) should still be used, but make all of them available as alt methods and not lock in on one or two methods. I also believe a mixture of id3 tags and browse by dir should somehow be combined. If there isnt a id3 tag associated with the actual mp3 file it should fall back to the name of the dir the file is located in as the album, and the file name as the track title. Here is where we need the most options, everyone seems to do it a slightly different way with differnt pros and cons associated with each method.
In media engine, you get a nice big list to browse through your media, its straight forward and easy to navigate. But building a playlist is clunky and there dosent seem to be a way to just randomly play all music in the lib (correct me if im wrong on this one).
Media Car seems to use the same browseing method as media engine, i havent quite figured out how to add more than one album/dir of mp3s to the playlist but i think its supposed to be able to, not sure. There is a select and select + buttons but only select + seems to load the dir as my plist, other button does nothing. I think the way its supposed to work is select will select the current dir and load it as your plist and select + will append current dir to current plist. But this dosent work. Someone clarify.
frodo player uses a method different than all the others with more options/ modes but the main problem is there isnt enough room to view all this information the best way. It needs to be on its own screen so its not crowded on the main screen with all the other interface items. You can choose to hide stuff, but if you hide it from the main screen its not available at all. If a few things were broken off into seperate screens or areas of the app it would increase the viewable area of the critical items.
Currently i have all three installed on my carputer and basicly i use all three depending on what browseing method im in the mood for. But for no fuss i just use winamp.
These are just my ideas/opinions/observations.
Take them with a big grain of salt.
post your ideas.
thats a long post, i think ill have breakfast while reading it
Carputer: 2.8Ghz P4, 512 RAM, 120gb HDD, WIFI, TV tuner, CDRW/DVDROM, Slot load DVD in front.
Screen: Lilliput 7" touchscreen (Custom made Carbon Fiber Screen Enclosure)
no one else has any other ideas? Or at least agree or disagree with my idea?
I think no one is spending the time to read the whole post. Just like I didn't, sorry man it just too long.
I'll read it before I post again.
I have to agree with you on some of the points you made. The cd should be treated as an whole and you should be able to skip a whole cd. I also have to agree on the maximum viewing area for browsing because of the safety issue.
I've been avoiding any chance of adding to the list of mp3Car.com vaporware, but the route I'm going might address some of your issues:
I'm working on a TiVo-style interface, where your first step is to choose a method of search from a menu (Title, Artist, Album, etc.). Then, you start entering the name with a small alphabet pad (think video games), and a list of possible matches are on the side. As you enter more of the title, it scrolls to the closest match. If you just want to scroll the list, you don't have to enter anything, as all the songs are still listed.
My work wasn't born out of a problem with the other players. I just like the TiVo interface a lot because most of the features are accessed with a 4-way directional pad and a select button, so a remote would be just as fast as a touchscreen.
The way my player software deals with this is to treat the CD as a unit, as you suggest. The first list you are presented with is a list of CDs to choose from, using the forward and backward keys. The play button starts that CD playing.
Once the CD is playing, the forward and backward keys change to operate on the tracks within that CD skipping backward and forward through the tracks. The stop button returns you to the list of CDs to choose another.
It's very intuitive to understand and simple to operate, and I haven't had any real need to change it in the last 5 years. I haven't really thought about a better way to do it, but the 30 second intro/auto skip idea certainly is an interesting one. With the 50 CDs I have on my system that's nearly half an hour of intro preview though. I think 50 CDs is few compared to some people.
Some other ideas I have considered:
1) Re-ordering the list of CDs based on selection frequency, so that your favorites are always near the top of the list.
2) Restarting the list exactly where it was when you switched the system off (in a resume plugin styleeee).
3) Adding more depth to the menu system (rather than just CD and track levels, add a genre level too).
Old Systems retired due to new car
New system at design/prototype stage on BeagleBoard.
Re ordering the list based on frequency is a good idea, sometimes ill listen to the same 2-3 CDs for a whole week then move on to something else.
While i was thinking about the CD as a whole unit thing, (this probably wont ever happen) but it might be cool to rip an entire CD to one mp3 file and the ID3 tag would include all the cd information, track names, time position for begin and end of each track, etc. Mp3 players would look at the one file as one album and never try to relocate tracks to some other artist. I have this problem often where a CD will have other artist as guest on a track so a few songs on the CD will get misplaced in the media lib because the artist info is different for every other song, and sound tracks are the worse.
" With the 50 CDs I have on my system that's nearly half an hour of intro preview though."
This mode would have a toggle. If you hold the button for X amount of sec it will skip X number of CDs, so instead of going through every single CD it can skip however many you specify to get to that section of the list where you want to be. Theres also the list method and just view the entire list, scroll to where you want to be and start from there. I think we also need somekind of auto scroll action going on to whenever there is a scroll bar present. Scrolling allways seems to be a big issue with me while driveing, so i dont do it.
Thanks for the input guys, keep it comeing.
I like the way MediaCar browsing works. Its very simple you just select a folder or any song within a folder and that folder is played, just like popin in a CD. Select+ is only for loading multiple folders, ie if you have a folder artist/ that has two album/ folders inside it, using select+ on artist/ folder will load both album/ folders. I usualy just load an album and listen to it straight through. I have never in my life made a play list, If I want to hear the same thing over and over I can just turn on the radio (Atlanta radio stations seem to have a playlist of about 12 songs).
For me I just want to load a Folder as if it were a CD, no sorting, no searching, just directory browsing. If you just gotta have playlist you should make them at home, not on the road.
I'm still working on mine, but my overall concept is exactly what you are saying. That a CD is a CD. There is a screen that shows a list of CD's(MP3 folders) in order with large buttons to scroll up and down the list. Then when you touch the name it loads it into the player. I'm working on tracking right now what is loaded and not when that's complete then yes there will be a Next button that jumps to the next CD(MP3 folder) and a previous button that does the opposite. Plus your normal + - for tracks when playing a CD. I might add buttons to the select list that are like "A-F" "G-M" "N-P" "Q-Z" that when you touch them, they filter the list to albums that start with those letters. Makes it a bit easier to find the music, without actually typing in the name of an artist or album which again isn't safe to do while driving.
Oh and for me each Album has it's own folder so even if you have an artist with multiple CD's each one will show up in the list as an individual CD to load.