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An equal-opportunity player

Providing one-stop shopping for all your video needs, Miro downloads videos from the Internet, subscribes to video feeds, manages the collection on your hard drive, and handles torrents with grace. Oh, and now it syncs with your Android device.

Providing one-stop shopping for all your video and audio management desires, open-source and cross-platform Miro deserves much of the praise that's been heaped upon it. The latest major point to version 4 introduces strong support for importing iTunes libraries and Android device syncing, in effect attempting to become iTunes for Android. Somewhat remarkably, it does a good job at this challenging task.

The concept behind Miro is brilliant, yet simple: create a jukebox video and audio player that can subscribe to and download podcasts while managing your locally saved media. On the face of it, this might sound like iTunes, but the sharing component is an essential aspect of the program. The new version now heavily resembles iTunes, with a left nav area for navigating between your audio, video, and connected devices, the Amazon MP3 store and Appstore for Android, and Google's Android Market. New to version 4 is a right nav area that links to recently watched videos, recently played songs, and recent downloads, while the center of the program is where your media discovery and playback happen. Playback controls are on the bottom.

The new Android syncing worked smoothly and ought to feel comfortable to anybody familiar with iTunes syncing--although, notably, it came without the iTunes headaches. Importing more than 10,000 tracks went quickly because Miro recognizes iTunes and Windows Media Player media libraries that are already on your computer.

Main interface of Miro 4

(Credit: Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

Miro's other features include support for downloading torrents and viewing their content in the same app; folder watching; resumable playback; channel surfing, which organizes video feeds by topic; robust video conversion, sharing, and hosting; and assistance in creating and distributing videos. While version 3 introduced extensive subtitle support, better metadata management, and a higher maximum volume, the new version 4 focuses on more substantial gains. In addition to syncing movies and music with your Android phones and tablets, Miro now lets you stream your files and share them with other computers running Miro on the same Wi-Fi network. Basically, you can use it to manage media libraries on more than one computer.

Also new is the ability to browse both Amazon.com's Appstore for Android and Google's homegrown Android Market. Click the link in the left nav for either and you'll be able to access full marketplace features from within Miro. The same goes for the Amazon MP3 store. Miro 4 does not yet support Wi-Fi syncing for Android devices, although that feature is expected sooner rather than later.

Be warned that Miro's installation process not only opts you in to installing the Bing toolbar, using the Bing search engine, and setting Bing as your home page, but if you uncheck all three, Miro asks you if you're sure you want to harm its revenue stream. That's fairly aggressive for an open-source program, although this is unfortunately not new to Miro. It's not likely to change anytime soon, either.

Miro has long since passed its unstable early days, and the Android support is clearly geared toward building a user base beyond the niche of open-source fans. It's a solid tool, as long as you can get past that noxious installation.

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