Although there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with iTunes, for many people the overwhelming attraction is what it works with; the Apple iPod. But when you spend your day working with Windows and Windows programs, it’s peculiar to switch to something completely different, no matter how effectively it integrates with both Apple’s player and Apple’s music store.
In truth, older versions of Media Player were clunky enough to make most Windows users just grin and bear it, but with version 11 it finds itself in the elevated position of being able to compete in terms of looks and features with any other music player on the market, including iTunes. And now it’s possible to solve – at least partly, anyway – the iPod issue, courtesy of the oddly-named dopisp plug-in. That, by the way, comes courtesy of the Internet buzz which revealed details about the product before MGTEK had time to finalise the name.
At under 1MB it’s a tiny download and, once installed, appears to do nothing. Except that now, when you plug in your iPod, it’s recognised by Media Player 11 and appears just like any other MP3 player, ready to be synched with or copied to.
There’s more to it than that, of course. You have to do some basic fiddling with your plug-ins via the ‘Now Playing’ menu and, while this is straightforward, it’s not obvious, partly because dopisp comes with no documentation at all. A quick trip to the MGTEK Web site will sort you out and it’s here that other things become clear, such as you have to make sure that Media Player is set to rip CDs into MP3 format (rather than the default WMA) and at no more than 320Kbps (though it recommends 192Kbps).
More significantly, the current version doesn’t allow you to copy songs that you’ve purchased from the iTunes store or from any Plays For Sure certified store, which, given the name, would be quite funny if it wasn’t so frustrating. But then that’s digital rights management for you: a cack-handed, blunt instrument that too often penalises genuine purchasers of legal music.
That aside, dopisp works as advertised. Plug in your iPod, it appears in the player list and then behaves as if it were a properly compatible MP3 player so you can drag and drop tracks and albums or just synch ‘n’ shuffle to it. In use, the 1GB second generation Shuffle we tested synched faster than any other comparable player we’ve tried.