SMPlayer Review

key review info
application features
  • Audio track switching. You can choose the audio track you want to listen. Works with avi and mkv. And of course with DVDs.
  • (4 more, see all...)

It is well-known that the hardest choice is made when you deal with a varied offer, in which every item is said to be the best. This situation is familiar to most computer users who nowadays have plenty of solutions to any of their needs or desires. Supposing that you want to surf the web, Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror and others are waiting for you to make a choice; same goes if you want to edit some documents, where applications such as AbiWord Text Processor, OpenOffice Word Processor or Kword compete in becoming your favorite editor. How do you think things work when it comes to media players? Yes, you're right, exactly the same. If you're a more pretentious user, such as I am when it comes about players, then you just cannot limit yourself to your Linux distribution's suggestion. I am sure that these are good too and they offer almost the same functionalities as the others (after all, they all are media players) but, there are some that just do it better, or I just like better the way they do it.

So, in my search for the one player that would best satisfy all my needs I've bumped into a wide pallet of such applications: Amarok (only audio) , Beep Media Player, MPlayer, SMPlayer, VLC player (my old "friend" that I was using also on Windows, really good for movies, very simple and predictable in the sense that I can easily figure out what I have to do without getting dizzy by the sophisticated functionalities names), Audacious, KMPlayer RealPlayer and so on. And the winner was: SMPlayer.

What can I say? I was charmed by its modern design, addressed to the users for whom also the looks matter. At a first glance, it seems quite simple, but that does not mean that it cannot serve you well or that it lacks major functionalities. I can assure you it provides the exact tools for you to play back media content. One thing I've first noticed and liked about it was the fact that it acted exactly as I expected for some default shortcuts. For example, you can go forward or backwards using the mouse wheel, or, you can go in and out of the Fullscreen mode through a double click on the playing back area, or by pressing the F key. Another thing I've liked was the Compact mode. So, when you get bored of all those buttons and you have in mind all their shortcuts you can simply press the Compact button (or the Ctrl+C key combination) and enjoy a clear image, with a black frame instead of the buttons and menu toolbars. I've looked for this Compact mode in KMPlayer too, but I couldn't find any and the Ctrl+C shortcut did not work. I have then discovered in the View menu list that there was a similar view mode (called minimal here), but it had no shortcut by default and I had to edit it. I know this isn't a very important aspect, but sometimes I can be very lazy and I want my player to come with some default common used shortcuts so I shouldn’t be forced to make some of my own.

I’m not saying that SMPlayer is perfect and configured by default to perfectly satisfy all of my needs. For example, it cannot automatically detect the cdrom or dvd devices, which means that you, the user, will have to go to the Options->Preferences panel, and then to the Drives section and here select your drives. KMPlayer, on the other hand, comes with the Auto play option and the cdrom and dvd devices already selected. Among the better automatical detection of the cdrom and dvd drives it also supports as input source the TV tunner capture card, if you have any and offers you the possibility to record your favorite TV show.

Coming back to SMPlayer, I must say that I found that little palylist it offers (Ctrl+L keys combination shortcut) really cute. It is very compact and has the exact buttons a playlist would ever need: open, save, add, delete, repeat and shuffle, plus the previous/next and move up/down. An interesting function provided by this player would be that it can start playing your song or movie back from the point where it remained the previous time with the same settings: audio track, subtitles, volume etc. I do not know exactly how useful this function is. Besides, for video content it might not work very properly if you've pressed the Pause button, which is the Space key of course, just before closing. It might be an implementation bug or something; when I have re-opened a file after pressing pause just before closing it my player just started to act crazy and play the file as if it had only one nano-second, or less. This happens only because of the Pause before closing. Without this, it works as intended: the player starts the file back from the last point before a previous close. If repeated mode is on, the second time it plays back, it starts from the same very position, and not from the beginning as it would be normal, or as it seems normal to me. For example, if I have only one song I want to listen over and over again and I accidentally close it, I think it's cute that SMPlayer takes it from the last known position when I re-open it, but I definitely don't want to do this every time the song begins again. I can solve this easily by double clicking on the song in the playlist, though I don't think it was too much to expect from my player to do it automatically.

I will give credit to SMPlayer also for the fast and clean way it opens my files. I do not have to wait ages staring to an "opening file" dialog until my movie is played back and I do not receive any pop-up message regarding God knows what news or products. SMPlayer also benefits from a wide range of translations, from Italian or French to Simplified-Chinese.

The Good

SMPlayer is a new multimedia player based on the famous Mplayer, and thus it is able to play back the best-known audio and video formats without asking you to add external codecs. Another feature I must definitely count here would be the multiple speed playback, 2x, 4x or in slow motion if you want.

The Bad

I haven't found any major lacks in this program's functionalities, or any serious malfunctions. There are some minor things that I’d like to change, but these are too little to count much. For example, I would like the timer to provide me more showing options than the default one. I would like, for example to show a song's length rather than going backwards.

The Truth

SMPlayer is under the GPL license, meaning that its source code is available for everyone to download and modify or redistribute it without any charge.

Please enjoy some screenshots of SMPlayer:

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user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5

final rating 5
Editor's review