Whatever You Want, Miro Finds It, Gets It, Plays It
May 16, 2012 5:00 AM PT
The Internet is a hub for acquiring music, video and a just about any other form of content. Miro is one of the most capable player apps that I have seen for all of this media.
Keeping up with the various forms of content the Web has to offer can be a daunting task. The process is similar to what people do in the non-Internet world. For instance, we have TVs for watching broadcasts, radios for listening to local stations, VCRs for stored playback, DVD players for movies.
Similarly, we can litter our desktops with a bevy of separate apps to play back all of our preferred audio and video content. But why tolerate that hassle of jumping from app to app as we access our different content sources? Miro is an aggregator and viewing app that does it all.
Miro is a BitTorrent client with pause/resume and the ability to throttle bandwidth. It is also a fully-featured audio and video podcast catcher that automatically downloads the latest podcasts in a feed and marks them as unread.
Miro is also handy at finding and downloading many types of online media. Its built-in HD video player and an impressive feature. Unlike other more limited viewing apps, Miro handles a large variety of file types.
Another really nifty feature is the Miro Guide. This is a lot more than just an index of online audio and video content. It is a searchable catalog of Internet television shows and channels divided by genre.
And Miro is handy for syncing your audio and video files on multiple computers connected to the same network. This makes sharing content a breeze with other Miro users.
TV Set Replacement
Doing manual searches of video sites wears thin very quickly. Miro eliminates that chore. Its search feature scourers numerous libraries of popular online video sites. These include YouTube, Google Video, Hulu and Yahoo Video. It downloads selected found shows with ease.
This search and save feature lets me bypass my conventional cable-fed TV system with its on-demand and catch-up programming access. Instead, Miro lets me watch Internet videos and TV series much like I would if I remembered to find and record the shows on the cable DVR.
The obvious added benefit is that I am not restricted to accessing my viewing fare from one set tethered to cable box and the DVR. Miro lets me watch anywhere I have an Internet connection.
Mostly Easy Set Up
Miro is available in many distros' package management systems. This makes installing it a one-click procedure. But depending on your computer's configuration, you might have to do a little fiddling to use all of Miro's features.
For example, on first run I got an option to install Bonjour. This added software allows me to stream my media library with other Miro users and access their collections as well.
In my case, that message included reference to a missing Avahi mDNSResponder compatibility library. Miro did not offer a solution other than checking my system's documentation on how to install this library. A little bit of searching solved the missing file snafu.
A bigger problem involved configuring the Hulu connection. When I tried to access the Hulu channel, Miro told me that I needed the latest version of Adobe Flash Player. However, it was already installed on my system.
This seems to be a recurring problem with Miro on some systems. I found a number of support forums with conversations about this problem. An unresolved technical glitch sometimes prevents Miro from using Adobe Flash Player.
On my system, the installed current version of flash player worked fine with my various web browsers. But Miro refused to access flash. The screen message about the flash problem includes a link to the Adobe Flash Player download site.
There I found options for YUM, Tarball and RPM. That required a manual installation from the tarball for my Ubuntu 12.04 and Linux Mint 12 distros. The manual installation was futile, however. The error message persisted. This is a strange anomaly in that videos on other channels played just fine.
The Miro Interface
Miro's user interface is very similar to other audio and video player apps. It is functional and orderly but not particularly innovative. So you have nothing new to learn.
The menu bar at the top of the app window is very Linux traditional. The menu categories are File, Sidebar, Playlists, Playback, Sorts, Convert and Help. Each of these categories contains access to key features and settings.
Of particular importance is the Convert menu. Here you can select from among 25 file formats and device-specific formats.
Glance down the left pane to quickly surmise the amount of flexibility Miro offers. Click on any channel to see the corresponding screen view in the main window.
The left pane includes lists of your feeds in separate categories for audio and video. You can see a list of the number of downloaded podcasts per feed in a blue bubble and the number of active downloads in orange. You can also see the number of unplayed feeds in a green bubble next to the feed.
Typically, a player aggregator app offers access to a song or video or app store associated with the developers of the open source project. Miro betters that tradition times three.
Included in the left pane is access to The Amazon MP3 Store, the Amazon Android Store and the Google Android Store. Miro also lets you add other store websites by adding them as sources in the Preferences menu.
The File/Preferences panel provides extensive setup flexibility. This lets you use Miro to suit your own purposes.
For instance, you can select how often Miro checks for new content and how to handle auto-download options. Similarly, You can adjust more than a half dozen parameters for other downloads.
Other preferences let you select folders to monitor for new content, assign disk space conditions and set playback/sharing conditions. The Sharing tab gives you the option to install Bonjour if you did not opt to do that on the first use.
Miro is a very useful app for cataloging and playing your assortment of audio and video files. It is easy to use and very flexible.
But Miro's developers must solve the problem related to accessing the installed Adobe Flash Player. Until then Miro will be less useful for watching YouTube and Hulu videos.