Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reasons Why Some Podcast Players Suck

I am writing down a list of audio players I have recently tried in Ubuntu, together with the reasons why they suck. I'm doing this because I have to keep track. There are SO MANY sucky podcast audio players that I am now being forced to organize them by reason for sucking so I can figure out which one sucks the least. My feature requirements are pretty light:

- Actually plays podcasts.
- Clear treatment of podcast subscriptions in the UI. I should be able to update them, remove items from them, restore them to their default state, unsubscribe from them.
- Ability to mark items visibly in some way. I need to know whether I've already listened to an item AND whether I've downloaded it to a device or CD to listen to in the car; this requires at least three visible states.

Rhythmbox:
Podcast subscriptions are not visible in the interface anywhere, only items. You can download, play or remove items, but you can't manipulate your subscriptions at all. For example, you can't remove a subscription. This tells me the podcast interface is unfinished. Also, automatically starts downloading items from a podcast, which annoys me.

Banshee:
Seemingly has all the features I need, but gaps in important functionality. If you remove an item from a subscribed feed you can't get it back, ever, even by manually updating the podcast. No easy way to tell the relationship between a podcast file you downloaded and a file that shows up in your playlist; the playlist only shows metadata and won't let you look at the filename, which is sometimes important for serial podcasts.

Quod Libet:
The version in Ubuntu doesn't have the advertised "Audio Feeds" view which allows podcasts. The version on Getdeb doesn't either.

Songbird:
Holy overkill batman. I need a podcast player, not a way of life. Main issue is that, at least regarding the version in Getdeb, it doesn't seem to actually understand podcasts. Yes, you can subscribe to them, but viewing them gives you the Firefox raw xml no-stylesheet view instead of the expected list-of-tracks. (And where's the list-of-all-podcasts I would expect to find, while we're at it?)

Amarok:
Very slow. Crashed at least once in my Gnome desktop. Requires you to install xine plugins just to play mp3s; why the hell wouldn't that be in the dependencies? Confusing interface--I couldn't even figure out how to just view the file's metadata.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi - It's a bit late now, but I just spent an hour tracking this down: The podcast (audio feed) menu in QuodLibet depends on the python package python-feedparser (available in the Ubuntu repository).
It's visible and working now, after installing that package.

Xriva said...

I've been very unhappy with podcatchers inability to backup and restore podcast subscriptions.

Is there even one podcatcher / player that can do this ?

I'm running Ubuntu Jaunty.

mail4kcc@yahoo.com

-:>Kevin

Xriva said...

The world needs a podcatcher that can backup and restore it's settings. Most importantly podcast subscriptions.

Does anyone know of one ?

I'm running Ubuntu Jaunty.

Thanks,

-Xriva