Anyone who plays a lot of music on their PC knows that convenient controls could be the single most important feature. It's hard to imagine a more convenient arrangement than Max Tray Player's taskbar control suite. This free media player places the most frequently used buttons on the Windows taskbar, right where they should be. With Play, Pause, Stop, and Media buttons always accessible, it's the most convenient setup we've tried. Max Tray Player's compact pop-up controls and display windows let you access its playlists, settings, and displays when you want them, as well as see videos. It's compatible with a wide range of music, video, and image files, and it plays Internet radio, too.
Max Tray Player's main interface is a fairly conventional if compact media player with the typical dark, stylish graphics and an attached, optional playlist window. We could access the usual features and extras from this interface, such as Repeat and Shuffle controls. We started by setting paths to our media files, a refreshing change from aggressive library managers. The tabbed Player Options sheet let us change the program's skin and hot keys, associate file types, set visualization options for the spectral display and graph, set video parameters, and enable extras like an Equalizer. But we were more interested in the row of player controls next to the Start button in the Windows taskbar, including Play, Pause, Previous and Next Track, My Media, and Show Player. Hovering the cursor over any button showed a small, semitransparent track indicator and timer. The controls automatically adjusted themselves when we moved the taskbar from the bottom of our screen to the right side.
We played a variety of tunes and videos with Max Tray Player, which did a fine job with everything we threw at it. It's not designed to compete with the open-source players that have every conceivable setting, option, and codec; the video playback was good but not spectacular, and you can't replace the codecs (at least not easily or obviously) if you prefer LAME or other encoding. Having controls on the taskbar made all the difference, though. Every player should be so easy to use.