Editors' note: We have changed the ratings in this review to reflect recent changes in our ratings scale. Find out more here.
JetAudio isn't a newcomer to the media jukebox playing field, but its JetAudio Basic 6.0 generates considerably less hype than do giants such as Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and the audio-only . Amid the online music store explosion, JetAudio's lack of an integrated Net shop of its own might explain its place in the shadows. However, if you prefer simplicity and speed, this apparent absence is more of a blessing. That said, the program's B-list status is more likely attributed to its inability to sync with devices or encode songs as MP3s. Yet even without these features, JetAudio shines as a more than capable media player. Once you download JetAudio Basic 6.0, installation is a quick and painless process. However, if you don't want the app set as the default player for the most popular media types, you will have to pay attention to two of the windows during the setup process (just be sure to deselect a few prechecked boxes). If you decide later that you would like JetAudio to be your primary player, you can easily change the preferences to associate as many of the 57 supported file types as you'd like. Yes, that's right: 57, including the notoriously proprietary RealMedia formats.
JetAudio's interface is attractive and well laid-out, and a description of each button's function pops up as you mouse over it. Unfortunately, you can't resize the program window, but it comes with three skins of varying sizes. There are also about 25 or so skins online to choose from in addition to three sets of visualizations (three others come with the download).JetAudio Basic 6.0 is well stocked in the features department. In addition to the standard ripping, burning, and file-playback functions, the player offers conversion from any of its supported audio files to any of eight popular formats--alas, none of these is MP3--and Internet broadcasting. The last is one of the neatest features we've seen in a free media player, and it does a nice job compensating for the lack of an integrated music store. To access other users' broadcasts (174 of which were available at press time), you simply click the Broadcasting icon in the main window. If you want to transmit your own tunes, you open a program called JetCast, which is included with the download and lives in the JetAudio folder. JetCast is shockingly easy to use--we were able to begin broadcasting a playlist in a matter of minutes--but we experienced so much buffering when we tried to listen to others' broadcasts that we doubt the usefulness of the feature. Still, the feature is cool, despite the fact that it's not fully integrated into JetAudio. Certain transmissions are even available through Windows Media Player.