Just a few days ago Lonelycat games updated their Media Player application to version 1.5 . The biggest addition of this latest release is the ogg vorbis format support. We make an in depth review and compare it with the free Oggplay media player to help you make the decision if it is worth the extra money...

UltraMP3 was firstly a lonelycat games project of a MOD music player, a media format similar with the midi format but with the exception that the samples are contained in the file and so no synthesizer (software or hardware) is needed. Lonelycat decided to add MP3 support later and so a totally new product, UltraMP3, was born.

With a closer look, UltraMP3 surprises us with it's high quality user interface, just like every other 'Lonelycat games' application, using every single pixel of the screen. Even the menu/options screen is not the typical Series60 screen that we see on most of the applications out there. The only drawback that someone can find is the very small font used that can make the info hard to read but it is the only way to fit as much information as you can in a series60 screen.

The user interface style can be changed using different skins, making the player more customized to the likings of it's user. UltraMP3 comes with a couple of skins, but with a little search on the internet you can find more (even some with a WinAMP style) and even if you won't you can create your own.

The typical playback screen shows us all the useful information about the file playing. Filename, bit rate, sampling frequency, total time, elapsed or remaining time and all the useful tag information (Title, Artist, Album, Year, Genre and track number). There is also a very nice looking spectrum/frequency analyzer that can either be changed with an oscilloscope or be disabled. The refresh frequency of it is very high making it very synchronized with the song played but also very CPU consuming.

The play list is not in the main screen, something that may frustrate some people especially those familiar with OggPlay. It is accessed through the options screen, and you can also edit it. Unfortunately there is no option for multiple play lists or any type of automatic categorizing/play list making, similar to those of OggPlay.

Another small problem is the inability to reconfigure the hotkeys the way you like, or even to use different predifined layouts just like some games have. So you can only control the player using the joystick to select the key you want to press or by using the standard hotkey layout (*:previous track #:next track 0:play/pause 1:rewind 3:fast forward 2:Stop).

The biggest disadvantage though especially when we compare it with the OggPlay is the sound quality. The output, although fully stereo, seemed more like a 22khz sound rather than 44khz. Although the low (bass) frequencies were very well played the sound seemed poor especially when compared with Oggplay's output. But either way it is much better than some other mp3 players which can only output at 16khz.

Going more in depth, we made some tests using TaskSpy, in order to see the CPU usage, something that can also show us how much battery consuming an application is. The tests were made by playing a 7 minute ogg file at an 64kbps ABR bit rate on both Oggplay and UltraMP3.

UltraMP3 Oggplay
UltraMP3 (background) Oggplay (background)

As we can see in the screenshots, the use of the spectrum analyser of the UltraMP3 makes the program alot CPU consuming (94% Average CPU usage) and battery draining. Oggplay in the other hand, although it doesn't offer the best spectrum analyser with so high frame rate and refresh frequency, it gives a much smaller CPU usage. The CPU usage falls a lot lower when we use the osciloscope instead of the spectrum analyser (about 35%) but still this is a lot more than Oggplay's. But if we use seriously our phones for music playback then most of the time the player will be in the background. In a background state the player uses a lot less CPU. The results in such state shows that UltraMP3 is very well optimised for that purpose with an average CPU usage of 1.3%. Unfortunately UltraMP3 seems to also have a much lower priority so when you make use of other applications like composing a mesage the phone will run smoothly but you'll get a lot of pauses during playback while in oggplay you get the opposite thing, smooth playback slow phone! It's worth mentioning that although the screensaver turns the application into the background UltraMP3 has an extra option to auto move itself into the background faster!

So does UltraMP3 deserves the extra money? We cannot say for sure as it all depends on what you really want. The low CPU usage when the application is in the background and the very nice user interface are the strongest points of UltraMP3. But the sound quality seems to be a big drawback, especially when you can get much better quality from oggplay. Other than that if you are interested in an almost all in one music media player and especially in mod playing then without a doubt UltraMP3 is maybe the best solution.

Rating: 8
Price: $17.99
UltraMP3 Official Website