Zoom Player ProfessionalAPP URL: http://www.inmatrix.comAPP Version Reviewed:
5.00 Preview 7Intro:
For the past few years, I have been a long time and devoted winamp user. But as of lately, winamp development has ground to a halt. Due to numerous bugs, like fast forwarding an avi file causing the player to freeze, I have begun the hunt for a new media player. Winamp was beautiful in that it could handle everything I threw at it with the exception of DVD playback.
Enter Zoom Player. Upon discovering this program, I was skeptical that any program could hold up to the torture I put my player through. However, I was soon to find out that I would be pleasantly surprised. Zoom player not only handled every format via a plugin (so you can customize it to your liking) I threw at it (RM, RAM, RV, QT, AVI, MPEG, Any audio format, AND DVD PLAYBACK), but it did it with class.
Anyways, onto the review.Who is this app designed for:
This application is designed for the person who doesn't want a separate application to play audio, one for video, and one for dvd playback. This application allows you to use your existing dvd decoders (Intervideo, powerdvd, nvidia, etc) to playback dvd's. It can scan your system to alert you to what formats you wont be able to play and a plugin exists for so you can use it for everything under the sun. This is also the ideal application for someone who wants to use their pc as an integral part of their home theater. So, in summary, if you want one application for all of your media playback needs, this is it. What does it cost:
Standard Version - Free for non-commercial use
Pro Version - 27.95 (adds dvd navigation capabilities, locked or incomplete file playback, and a few other features) http://www.inmatrix.com/zplayer/pro/pro_why.shtml
WMV Pro Version - 35.95 (adds playback support for DRM protected windows media files) http://www.inmatrix.com/zplayer/pro/wmv_why.shtmlThe Good
First off, let me start by saying that if you love to configure your applications to any extent possible, this is your application. Zoom player leaves no limit to what you can configure. Here is a screenshot of the main options dialog showcasing the various options you can setup.
The basic options dialog
The expanded advanced options dialog
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to configure zoom player.
The next major area I would like to focus on is the recently added hotkey support. As many of you know, I posted a request in the Coding snacks section for an AHK script to control ZP via hotkeys, however, I also posted a request over at the zoom player forums and to my amazement this was already implemented in an unreleased preview (the current build). With ZP, you can not only now add hotkeys, but you can create a custom key configuration for any of the functions within zoom player.
Here is a text file that showcases the standard configuration for keys defined in zoom player, but as I said, you can change this to however you see fit.
Next thing I would like to hit on is the DVD Playback configuration. ZP doesn't come with its own built-in dvd decoder, but instead it relies on a 3rd party decoder. It supports various decoders such as Intervideo's, PowerDVD's, Nero, NVidia's, Sonic, etc and each can be easily configured. With ZP, you can configure the exact decoder used for video and audio decoding, as well as dvd navigation (E.G., you can use the Nvidia PureVideo video decoder, while using the intervideo audio decoder and microsoft dvd navigator used with WMP). This allows you to choose the best combination of decoders for use with ZP's dvd playback functionality.
Here is a screenshot of the dvd customization screen (YMMV)
The next thing I want to hit on is the format compatibility. While ZP doesn't include built-in support for these formats (it includes some, but it can playback many more), it does allow the user to utilize whichever codecs they have installed on the system so any format can be played back. ZP also offers a unique system scan feature which alerts you which formats you might not be able to play due to lack of a codec. It also provides you links back to the ZP site which includes download links for various codecs. You can see a list of these codecs herehttp://www.inmatrix.com/zplayer/formats/
So basically, if a codec exists, the player can handle it. This includes formats like Real Media, Quicktime, DivX, XviD, shn, flac, etc. The needs improvement section
Now, I could go on and on about the positives of ZP, however, let me focus on a few of the annoyances and negativities I've noticed.
The first issue I would like to point out is when utilizing the Auto-Size options as provided in the interface options, you can get some weird looking UI displays. The auto-size option is designed to resize the UI to 100% of the target video when loading a new file. However, with the latest 9X.XX drivers from nvidia, you are presented with a UI where the video overlays the controls, requiring you to resize the window. The end result is something like this
As you can see, the playback controls are visible (partially) behind the video overlay, but you have to resize the window to get it to display properly. This, however, has been reported to the devs and they are aware of it. Hopefully a fix will be given soon
Another bug in this preview version is that the dvd customizations aren't saved all the time, requiring you to reconfigure the renderer selections. This, although a minor issue, can be a small annoyance.
Another bug I have noticed in the newly implemented hotkeys, is that when you use a hotkey to control the open file dialog and preferences dialog, the entire application is pushed to the rear behind any other application. This requires you click its taskbar entry to bring it to the front. However, the open file dialog and preferences dialog are then pushed to the rear of the main interface if "Stay On Top" is selected for the main ZP interface. This, again, has been reported to the devs and I hope they fix it prior to 5.0 goes gold!
Here is an example of what I am talking aboutConclusions
As I said above, I consider ZP to be a very well written and coded program. The support is top notch and the developers are very friendly. You can get a response on their forums very rapidly. ZP provides you a way to playback pretty much every media format available. I now use this on my pc to control all playback of media and I find it a very nice replacement to winamp and any other player I have tried. So, in summary, if you require an All-In-One player and do not want to deal with separate players for video, audio, and dvd, then you will be very happy with Zoom Player.
This is Josh (The Shamurai) leaving you with his quote of the day
"Windows98 (win'do-s-98): n. a 32-bit extension and graphical shell for a 16-bit patch to an 8-bit operating system originally coded for a 4-bit microprocessor, written by a 2-bit company, that can't stand 1 bit of competition or criticism."By the way, Zoom player has decided to do a promotion where they will give away one copy of the Pro and one copy of the WMV Pro versions per month for one year with donationcoder.com. They will also be offering a 20% discount throughout the month of august. I will post the link to the registration page prior to the start of the month.
"Windows ME: (n.)4. Proof that God has a sense of humor."