William here. Have you tried Windows Media Player 12 yet? If you haven’t, I think you should!
WMP 12 is the version that ships with Windows 7. Besides a cool new look, shown in the figure below, what I love most about this player is that is plays all of my favorite media formats. Finally—and I do mean all of my favorites.
That means not only does it play WMV, WMA, MP3, AVI, and MOV, but it also plays 3GP, AAC, AVCHD, MPEG-4, DivX, and Xvid files. IMHO, support for Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and MPEG-4 (MP4) is a HUGE improvement. Why?
Although MP3 is the audio format most everyone recognizes, AAC actually is nearly as widely used because AAC is/was the default format for the Apple iPod. AAC is one of several audio coding formats defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) for MPEG. AAC was first specified as MPEG-2 AAC, and then enhanced and extended within MPEG-4. Apple’s popular iTunes music service uses the AAC format.
AAC uses a perceptual coding technique to compress digital audio files. AAC is similar to MP3, but offers a number of advantages designed to improve audio quality, including higher-efficiency compression, better handling of audio frequencies above 16 kHz, and support for higher resolution audio at up to 96 kHz. The improved efficiency of AAC files makes it a better choice than MP3.
Note: Essentially, AAC is MPEG-4, but to be fully and technically accurate I must state that AAC is at the core of MPEG-4 and is the codec of choice for Internet and digital audio encoded to comply with MPEG-4. (AAC is also at the core of 3GPP and 3GPP2.)
In addition to the enhanced media support, I also like the new look for Now Playing, shown in the figure below. This new less-is-more approach allows you to quickly see what’s playing, navigate and control the current album or playlist and return to the library if you want to. You also can keep Now Playing on top of other windows if you want to.
If you’re using Windows Media Player 12, I hope you’ll post a comment or send me an email telling me about your favorite feature.
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time, when I talk about importing music and other media.
William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com