Cowon's JetAudio Basic is anything but.

Put this free media center, player, and extras on your short list.

JetAudio is the software component of Cowon's media players and devices. It's available as a free media player for Windows under the name of JetAudio Basic. It's anything but basic, though. In addition to being a stylish and capable player that can handle most file types, JetAudio Basic includes audio and video converters, audio CD burning and ripping, sound recording, skins, Internet broadcasting via JetCast, and other fun and useful JetToys. New to JetAudio 8 is an integrated GUI with optional Media Center Interface.

When we first ran JetAudio, we clicked the Choose Windows Configuration option from the Cowon Media Center folder on the Start Menu. The first page asks how you want to use JetAudio, with main window, toolbar, and Media Center combinations optimized for music, video, or file management. We chose the default options.

The Media Center interface is more substantial than a typical player-playlist setup, more closely resembling an Explorer program than a media tool (and a refreshing change from another Media Center we won't mention). The top panel is JetAudio's media player; it's a good-looking unit, too, with a blue-glass look and a spectral display. In the default view, the sidebar tree view doesn't navigate Explorer but the Media Center's features. But we could open My Computer and Portable Devices from controls next to the player interface. Many users may opt just to use the slender, optional toolbar, which autofits to the top or bottom of the screen and can be dragged around the desktop. We ran the configuration tool again and tried this and other interface options; each has something to recommend it.

JetAudio also scanned our system for media files when we first ran it. The Media Center interface displayed crisp, clear video playback, even with Flash videos saved from online. Of course, JetAudio really shines in playing and organizing your music collection, though audio and video quality largely depends on your audio and video cards and other variables. If we had one complaint, it's that the numerous controls sometimes aren't intuitive in layout or labeling. But JetAudio offers a real Media Center alternative with tons of extras, and it belongs on your short list.

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