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Zaurus Software Reviews: tkcPlayer 1.5.0-18
09/15/02
By Steve Emms


tkcPlayer represents one of a series of applications developed by theKompany.com, a company that specialises in embedded applications. Other software that they produce for the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 include tkcEditor, tkcExplorer, tkcFTP and tkcToDo. One thing their programs have in common is that they are commercial applications.

Installation should have been trivial, if I'd carefully read the README file. I decided to install the qpe-thekompany ipk to CompactFlash, but all of theKompany's embedded applications require this ipk to be installed to RAM. After correcting my error, I also decided to install the qpe-tkcplayer ipk to RAM, but this ipk can be installed to a CompactFlash/SecureDigital card.

An attractive splash screen is displayed on startup. The screenshots, on the left, show the three different panes to the program; Play List, Media Library and Player. As you can see for yourself the interface is extremely attractive, and I'm pleased to say it's also very easy to use. Within a minute I'd compiled a playlist, and reordered it to my preference. Having a flash interface would mean nothing if the sound quality wasn't up to scratch. Fortunately, the sound quality was excellent (on a decent pair of Sennheiser headphones).

One of the big selling points of the tkcPlayer is that it handles the .ogg format. Unlike the MP3 format, Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology. It's Open Source too! Additionally, Ogg files are smaller than mp3s. We encoded the famous CD of Elgar's Cello Concerto conducted by Sir John Barbirollo, using both technologies. In MP3 format, using a 160KB bitrate, the file size was 34.6MB, but in the Ogg format, it was only 31.9MB. For a device such as the Zaurus which has limited storage capacity (even with an IBM Microdrive), this saving is significant. The inclusion of Ogg support is particularly beneficial as ogg files often sound better than MP3s when recorded at low bitrates. TheKompany.com also claim that fewer CPU cycles are consumed when playing ogg files.

I found it mildly annoying that tkcPlayer created a separate menu entry for tkcPlayer, rather than just putting an entry in the Applications menu. Creating a tab for tkcPlayer was also overkill, although if you purchase many of their programs it wouldn't be bad. However, it would have been nice to have the option when installing the program.

The price of tkcPlayer is $9.95, which represents excellent value for money. Sure, the Zaurus comes with a free Media Player that does support MP3s, but it does not have a decoder for the Ogg format. Personally I found tkcPlayer a pleasure to use and a distinct improvement, in every respect, on Media Player. If you keep a lot of Ogg/MP3 files on your Zaurus, you'll really appreciate the library selection features, which makes much easier selecting a specific album or artist.

This software is definately worth the money. Everything about the program reeks quality!

Product Details:

Name: tkcPlayer 1.5.0-18
Price: $9.95
Pros: Ogg support, interface
Cons: Nothing significant
Rating: 9/10

Back to Zaurus Software Reviews


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