Review of IMac Front Row software
For those of you considering computer front ends, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the new iMac G5 -- in particular, its new Front Row software. for those unacquainted with Front Row, it is a special part of iTunes designed to be the core of a home theater. You use it with a simple, slim white remote. When you click the "menu" key on it, the computer interface disappears, and you have menus you can read across the room.
I've lived with this software for about 2 months now. Basically, I'd put this software in the "pretty good" category, with a lot of room for improvement. I'd have to say, given Apple's mastery of the GUI everywhere else on the computer, it is a bit of a disappointment. (I use the computer almost exclusively for audio, so my comments pertain to that part of the program, FWIW) Herewith, some particulars:
On the plus side, it performs its basic role -- you can see the screen from across the room. But here are my questions:
One dimensional menus?? What I mean is that each screen up and down the menu tree, accessed by one click on the remote, is one long list you've got to scroll through. I catalog by album, and I'm on my way to ripping >800 of them -- pretty slow and crude, waiting for that list to scroll down to Wagner. WE're not in uncharted territory here -- DVD players have very simple remotes that let you skip among choices on the screen, including sideways. For example, albums A-F, G-N could be high level choices on one screen.
Baffling navigation. Do you ever want to know where you are in a particular album? A garden-variety CD player will tell you this; Front Row won't. Let's say you hop up 1 level from the "Now playing" screen. What you see (sometimes) is a static list of the cuts on the album. You don't know where you are in the album, either by track or timing. How do you get back to the "now playing" screen? Very counterintuitively -- by going up 1 more level (to genre, artist, etc.), where you have a "go to now playing" choice.
Even weirder -- Sometimes (I can't tell why) if you go up one level to from the "now playing" screen, the album list isn't there at all but the genre, artist, etc. screen.
I want to conclude by saying how great the Mac is for audio. I offer my comments in the hopes that Apple will take v1.0 Front Row and bring it up to the standards it sets for itself everywhere else in its products.