Songbird is an open source player, built on Mozilla technology, offers a very customizable interface and integrates a pleasant variety of web services that offer everything from artist bios, lyrics, music store integration, and much more. Songbird is available for Windows XP/Vista, Linux, and Mac OS X (Intel-only). It defaults to a fairly iTunes-esque UI, with a left sidebar for managing media and playlists and a central boxed area for displaying artists, genres, albums, and individual tracks. While Songbird has built-in support for managing iPods, its resemblance to iTunes doesn’t go much further than these initial similarities, thanks to Mozilla’s signature array of customizable options that are powered by the same XML User Interface Language (XUL) and Gecko rendering engine behind Firefox. In fact, many of Firefox’s familiar tools are present in Songbird’s highly stylized UI, such as a tabbed browser, add-on manager, and a customizable music search engine box.
While Songbird recognized our 4G iPod nano and could play songs from its playlists, the software bogged down after a couple of songs, and couldn’t eject the iPod properly, which triggered a couple of hardware removal warnings from Mac OS X. Searching for tickets with Songbird’s built-in support for the Songkick concert service nearly brought the app to its knees. While we figure our 38.22GB library of 7,900+ songs is fairly average in size (perhaps even a little small by today’s standards), Songbird slowed to a crawl when checking for artists that may have concerts coming up in the Chicago area. We eventually forced the program to quit so we could continue testing other areas.