Review: Play your tunes with pared-down X2 Media Player

Play music with this super-basic media player.

Neptune Century Studios designed X2 Media Player to be the easiest desktop audio player possible without sacrificing basic features like playlists, drag-and-drop, looping, and random play. Its pared-down look and streamlined way of doing things takes some getting used to, especially if you're more familiar with players that take the opposite approach when it comes to size, ease of use, and what, for lack of a better term, we might call a controlling nature (iTunes, we're looking at you!). X2 Media Player is suitable for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 and requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 or better.

With its rounded edges, blue buttons, and light gray background, X2 Media Player's compact layout takes its styling cues from Apple's designs, if not its philosophy. The Main Menu contains large "Playlist," "Play," and "Settings" buttons as well as Info. and Update controls. At the bottom is the usual player control suite, including volume, loop, and playlist menu buttons; these controls are always displayed, but the main window toggles between Main Menu, Playlist, Settings, Update, and other views. It's a handy arrangement that avoids docking playlists, though shorter, less elaborate playlists will be easier to see in the small window. In some ways, X2 Media Player sacrifices intuitive functionality for ease of use; for example, a small icon among the player controls shows the Main Menu screen, but that's apparently the only way to return to the Main Menu. It took some clicking to figure that out; once we did, the process was quick and easy. For some reason, we were unable to access X2 Media Player's Audio Settings in our tests, which is a serious issue for a media player and the biggest overall issue.

X2 Media Player handles common audio file types, including OGG and WMA; we played both MP3s and WAVs with perfectly fine sound quality. Despite not being able to access the audio settings, we like X2 Media Player and the less-is-more philosophy it embodies. It's free and lightweight, both in size and impact on your system, so try it with your own tunes.

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