Let’s face it: if you have an Apple Remote, Front Row is a much better way to enjoy all your media files. The media viewer has an interface that is both attractive and simple, and you can quickly reach all your tunes, videos and photo albums by the flick of your thumb. And on a big screen it really looks impressive. Front Row has become the de facto interface for anyone owning an Apple TV. Like Exposé it’s also the typical application you show off to your friends who still haven’t switched to Mac. That doesn’t mean you should stick to it though. Here we take a quick look at three similar applications.
SofaControl’s interface is very similar to that of Front Row, and it even includes a link to the application from its menu. However Sofa Control isn’t limited to media files. The program lets you reach any file or application on your Mac. Call it a Finder with style, or a Finder for the lazy, because in the end it means you’ll only need your Apple Remote to reach anything. You can also execute all sorts of specific actions in applications, like adding ratings or creating playlists in iTunes.
Maybe a bit more powerful and customizable than SofaControl, XHub Media Center gives you access to all your media, including DVDs . You can tweak its appearance, choosing from one of 21 different skins or setting the sound effects. The application is easy to set up and browsing through albums in iTunes has a cool Front Row-like feel. On the downside, you won’t be able to access other files, like with Sofa Control, and the application sometimes chooses the wrong display ratio for videos. Still, a nice alternative to Front Row, with a bit more customization. Once installed XHUb is accessible from your Preferences.
This one is the oldest of the three applications. Although it might not have such a sleek interface as Front Row, it still gives you quick access to all your media. iTheater recognizes DVDs as soon as you pop them in your drive and it will read Video_TS files stored on your Mac. You can control iTheater from your Apple Remote or simply using your keyboard. Type a letter to show all the media files who’s name start with it. An added plus is the little widgets that come with iTheater, to control playback of media from your Dashboard.