Banshee 1.0 was released in the recent past, and I just got around to installing it to give it a whirl. All in all, I’m impressed.
I’ve been an Amarok user for the last few months, and before that I used Rhythmbox. I have an mp3 collection that makes load times and organization an important quality in a music library. Lately, I’ve grown to appreciate playlists more and more, and also like little things that look up artist or song information using 3rd party internet databases.
Banshee is a great media player, no question about that. I appreciate most the speed at which banshee does things. I’ve heard that banshee has been optimized for fast loading times of massive music collections, and on the whole, I would agree that banshee is capable of very fast load times. This release adds support to last.fm, a music playing web service that I’ve only recently come to appreciate. You can tune into last.fm streams right from within Banshee. It of course has podcast and radio support, which is always a plus. It also has options for dealing with CD’s. I’ve never dealt with CD’s, so this feature isn’t a big boon as far as I’m concerned, but I can see that the CD support in Banshee is pretty user friendly. One last thing that I really appreciate in Banshee is the little panel beneath the list of your library that will suggest similiar artists to the currently playing track, as well as give you other helpful information, like the other favorite tracks you’ve played by the current artist.
There are some things I’d like to see in Banshee that I think are lacking. First of all, configuration is limited, compared to the almost overbearing preferences dialog in Amarok. Second of all, I kinda grew accustomed to the main panel being a playlist, and the side panel being a drop down menu containing my music collection. It makes it easy to find a song and add it to a working playlist queue. In Banshee, the main panel is your music collection, and in order to create a playlist you have to mess around with dragging the song into a small playlist icon in the side panel. Its not the most intuitive way to create playlists, but its perfectly usable. I’ve heard that Banshee has mountable mp3 player sync support, but I haven’t found it yet…
Banshee’s UI is pretty good overall. First of all, and most importantly, its nice to see a powerful media player for GNOME environments. Amarok is natively for KDE, and it does clash a bit with the feel of the overall GNOME desktop. I really appreciate the “mini mode” where you can reduce the window to a small, simple user interface that has the basic media functions ( play/pause, track name). Banshee uses the system tray, so closing the main interface minimizes it the the taskbar. I like this, you can hide it away, while still having it playing what you want. Its simple, and pretty easy to use, most people can figure it out in no time flat.
All in all, Banshee is worth a try. You can grab it from here for your distro. It looks like a lot of hard work has gone into this player, and its loads better than the previous versions, as far as I can remember. Congratulations have to go out to the Banshee team for a good 1.0 release! You may just like it enough to make it your primary media player!