Let’s begin with a very simple question: why should we surrender to the most downloaded software when there are good but not so popular alternatives? Robert Frost said: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by” which, applied to software, may be translated as “take a risk and use new apps... even if they’re not that famous”. So, if you’re looking for a free, fast, simple MP3 player, and don’t feel like bowing down to Winamp the Almighty, just give XMPlay a chance.
The first thing I liked about XMPlay is the fact that you don’t need to install it on your system. Just unzip it to whatever folder you like (for example Program Files/XMPlay), and you may start enjoying your music right away. The range of file formats supported by XMplay is reasonably wide, including Internet streaming, CD tracks and playlists. Surprisingly, XMPlay does not work with video, a feature that other “alternative” players such as KMPlayer do include.
Bearing in mind the large amount of MP3 players available, comparisons are hard to avoid. XMPlay does its job and it does it well, without using too many system resources. The XMPlay interface offers two possible sizes and can be customized with nice skins, a popular feature with users. But what I really loved about XMPlay is the fact that you can control almost every function in the program by means of shortcuts, which turns out to be very handy if like me, you listen to music whilst working with the computer. No need to maximize the XMPlay's window, look for the appropriate Pause button and click on it every time somebody talks to me: one simple shortcut gets the job done.
But hey, XMPlay is an MP3 player we’re talking about here so, what about the sound quality? In fact, this may be XMPlay’s major weakness, as those with a good ear will notice it doesn’t sound as good as other players I have tested so far, particularly Winamp or ALSong. It’s just one weak point, but quite an important one when talking about a program that is intended to play music. Besides, and while this may be precisely its main function, XMPlay lacks some extra tasty options that we find in other players, such as the built-in audio converter featured in Spider Player, the Lyrics Viewer included in ALSong or the impressive skins offered by Xion Audio Player.
Summing up, although XMPlay will not be able to compete against the “big ones” in the MP3 player market, it’s still a very nice, free application, as long as you don’t ask for high-fidelity sound quality.