Yahoo Plays DJ

SAN FRANCISCO (07/10/2000) - Maybe I'm too picky, but I still can't find a multimedia player that I'm totally comfortable with. So when I heard about the new Yahoo Player, a program for listening to streaming music and watching videos, I was eager to test it out. After all, Yahoo Inc. has a reputation for avoiding unnecessary frills in its products, and I'm a fan of its Messenger software.

The Player is a quick and easy download at 1.69MB. But during installation, Yahoo becomes a little familiar for my taste: "To better serve you and to help improve future versions ... Yahoo Player may transmit usage information about the Yahoo Player, such as how often the software is used and how long each use session lasts, among other information, back to Yahoo."

Other information? That makes me a little nervous. You can opt out during installation by choosing a radio button marked No, or you can change the setting later in the Player's preferences.

After the program installs, the software prompts you to associate Yahoo Player with a list of file types on your computer. Yahoo is smart to ask before taking this step, since you may prefer that another program automatically launch when you double-click a file (an MP3 playlist you created, for instance, or an MPEG movie file.)The Player's interface is clean and appears to borrow its look and feel from Nullsoft's Winamp, with a set of VCR-like buttons to control the media you're playing. Yahoo Player can handle streaming music, CDs, and Windows Media video files.

Minibrowse Yahoo's Web

Yahoo Player's most notable feature is its minibrowser. When selected (you can toggle it on and off with a button), the small window offers a petite Digital Browser that points to selected Yahoo content pages. The minibrowser allows you to search for artists and songs from Yahoo Web pages and features music and entertainment news, as well as highlighted songs and videos.

When you click the Artist Highlight menu selection, for example, a Web page that features a short profile of indie-rocker Juliana Hatfield opens in the minibrowser. At the same time, a Windows Media video launches in a separate window. Pretty fancy!

The Player neatly integrates Yahoo content into its interface. If you're in the market for a new MP3 player, and you don't mind Yahoo hooks, you'll appreciate this handy tool.

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