All Media Into One Collection

very good
key review info
application features
  • Intuitive user interface, elegant design, fully customizable and easy operation
  • (6 more, see all...)

Media cataloging solutions are all over the place nowadays. The only aspects that make a difference are the presentation box, features and options made available. The fact that one application does not provide you a quick way to add comprehensive details about an item is a big minus.

Generally, the catalog should be able to contain different categories of items and some details or specs about it. Of course, the greatest advantage is for it to be absolutely free. Unfortunately, there are very few good examples in the freeware category, EMDB being one of them. Usually, the commercial products prevail and bring many useful features, WhereIsIt and MyDVDs being just two of my favorites.

MediaMan comes as a complete solution to keeping track of your collections, be they DVDs, games, software, books, audio CDs or even VHS tapes. The flexibility of the application allows the user to add new categories or rename the existent ones. Though the price tag reads $39.95, you have a 30 days trial period to test the product with all the features unlocked.

The interface is explorer-like letting you switch with ease between the various categories. As soon as you start the application, the task shortcuts will be displayed. From here, you can start building your collections by importing items.

To make your job easier, MediaMan will automatically import all the details for the item from Amazon. Provided that the item is on sale on the website it will retrieve information like the storage format of the item (DVD, CD, type of book etc.), publisher, platform and description. Of course there are specific details for each category and for movies you will also get the director's name, lead actors or runtime. And for everything to be complete, MediaMan also retrieves the price of the item on Amazon as well as the promotional image (poster or case picture).

The downside is that all the information will be retrieved from Amazon or from Library of Congress. There is no way to add more web locations and you will have to do with these two. However, should you happen not to find the item in one of the aforementioned locations, you can always add them yourself, complete with description, image and rating.

For each item, there are editing options letting you add more information or correct the one you think it is not compatible with reality. For movies you can change the audience rating on Amazon and place your own. Adding some more actors you think relevant is also possible. And if you want to get into more technical details, like picture and audio format, aspect ratio, DVD region, disc layer and disc side as well as the languages available on DVD, there is no sweat.

Finding your item in the entire collection is as easy as adding one. There are five basic criteria to search for: title, general info fields, artists/creators/casts, description/listings or release/publication date. The next step is entering the keywords. If you use quotation marks, the results will match exact phrases and for negative matches minus sign can be used.

MediaMan successfully brings in some options that make it a bit special from other applications in its category. One of them is the ability to play audio files without the use of an external player. The procedure is simple. Just pop up Edit Record window and go to Files tab. In the lower part of the screen there are three options: Attach to Folder, Attach to Files and Synchronize folder. Activate one of them and browse to the audio media location. From now on, every time you click on the item you will be displayed the contents of the folder. Click one of them and the default player will run it. But if you access PlayIt tab a built in MediaMan player will be at your disposal, complete with playing and volume controls.

Another feature adding value to the application is appending a status for a certain item in order to keep track of them. Thus you can add an item to your collection even if it is not yours to keep or you have not acquired it yet. There are only eight classifications available (lent, borrowed, rented out, rented, just bought, sold out, on the way or collectible). However, you are not restricted to the built in options and setting your own status is also possible.

In case of lending an item, you can specify the person's name as well as the period it is unavailable to you. The information will appear highlighted right above the title letting you know about the status of the item.

As unimportant as View options may seem, in the case of MediaMan these hold a surprise for you. Besides the regular item listing options there is also something different: Virtual Shelf view. This will display all the items as they were displayed on the shelves of the store, in cases. And if you play with the zoom a bit you've got yourself a very nifty view of the items.

Application's Options dialog is filled with customizing features designed to make your work easier. Every collection can be saved at a user defined period of time. All the settings for the position of the interface and the mode it opens into (full frame or wide frame) as well as setting the primary and secondary Amazon stores for content retrieval or choosing the theme for the virtual shelf and the fields to be displayed in the detail pane are included in here.

The Good

The application is flexible enough to allow the user to make as many collections as s/he wants. The user can add new categories for each collection of items.

The details of an item can be downloaded from Amazon with all the needed information and can also be appended by the user.

Search option provides good criteria for displaying accurate results. Collection export formats include RTF, CSV, HTML, TXT and PNG (virtual shelf). The user can batch edit multiple items, thus saving a lot of time.

The Bad

One element working in the detriment of the application is the price. Retrieving the price of the item on Amazon does not seem such a good idea for a home user.

Collections are not protected in any way. I think some users may want this feature, although it is not a stringent one in my opinion.

The Truth

All in all, the application comes with many useful features. There is no rocket science in using it, as everything is handy. The interface is comfortable and easy to handle. The user can create as many collections as desired and export them separately to five different formats.

A collection with a bit more items may take up even more than 30MB in size, but you will have comprehensive information at hand. During our testing, a 20-item collection reached about 2MB, but every detail for every item was added.

However, the price is just too much. Cheaper applications with less features than MediaMan are preferred due to their honest pricing.

Here are some MediaManshots of the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 3

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good

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