CorePlayer Review

Review: CorePlayer

April 13, 2007

3 of 5
By: Duke Carico

One of the most popular freeware applications for the Treo has to be The Core Pocket Media Player (also known as TCPMP). This app does a great job of playing many different media files on a Palm Treo, and also has the ability to play MP3s. But as an all around media player it probably doesnt have a lot of the bells and whistles that one could find in say Kinomas media player with its ability to stream audio and video. Or even Pocket Tunes Deluxe with the ability to create playlists and also stream audio Shoutcast streams. So the developers of TCMP decided to take the next step and create a commercial version of this very popular freeware application that better addresses these shortcomings. This one simply called The Core Player, which is available for both Palm OS and Windows Mobile PocketPC. I recently got the opportunity to take this app for a test drive using my Treo 680.

movies on Treo

View largerClick image to view larger.

How I Tested

I installed The Core Player on a Treo 680, using a 2 gig SanDisk standard card, and used a variation of the Treos speakers along with a set of wired stereo speakers. I also left the freeware version on my card to compare the two using the same audio/video to see if I could distinguish any difference in quality. The version I installed is V1.0.4, build 716.

Family Guy on Treo

View largerClick image to view larger.


There is no trial version of this software. You must buy it to see if you like it. I guess the developers figured that with the freeware version, you pretty much know what you are getting when you buy the new commercial version. Most developers offer you to the option to try before you buy and I hope CoreCodec will reconsider their decision not to offer a free trial. When installing the freeware application you would install the app, and also have to individually install each codec that you would need for the media you will be playing. The commercial version includes several codecs with the app built right in. But I found their claims a little misleading. For example, this, taken from their web site on the abilities of the current commercial version:

  • Audio: MP3, AAC, MKA, WMA, WAV, OGG, Speex, WAVPACK, FLAC, AMR, ADPCM, ALaw, MuLaw, and Midi
  • Video: H.264 (AVC)*, MKV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2**, MPEG-4 part 2 (ASP), DivX, XviD, WMV+, MJPEG
  • Containers: Matroska, TS, PS, 3GPP, MOV, AVI, MPEG-4, NSV***

But when I tested a WMV file, I couldnt get it to play. Further investigation revealed that the Palm version does not support this format. MIDI isnt supported at this time either, but is promised in version 1.5. Not a big deal to me, but it could be for some. Installation of the application itself was almost painless as after the hotsync. I launched the app, and typed in a rather long 30 character registry key, and was greeted by a very slick looking user interface.

CorePlayer interface
CorePlayer interface

View largerClick image to view larger.


Maybe its just me, but video seems to be not quite as smooth as the freeware app. I have viewed several different video files at several different resolutions, but the problem seems to appear in all of them. If I pause for any reason, the first few seconds starting back result in dropped pixels, and freezing video, a few seconds of smoothness, and then maybe a 4 second video freeze, before things smooth out. After these few moments getting started, video quality is very impressive, and stable. Video options abound in this version! You can stretch, fit, oversize, and even thumbnail the video, to look at other information about the video itself.

CorePlayer interface fit
CorePlayer allows you to fit video to screen

View largerClick image to view larger.


Audio quality seems to have improved some with this version. Not that it is bad in the freeware version. With the addition of preset EQs, as well as a 10 band customizable one, your options abound to tailor your medias audio to just the way you like it. Also added is the ability to create your own play-lists. The combination of all these things together make this app one very capable MP3 Player.

CorePlayer EQ
Customize EQ settings to your media

View largerClick image to view larger.


As for the User Interface, this looks nothing like its freeware counterpart! User Controls are very friendly, as you can raise/lower the volume, fast forward, reverse and pause, all from the five way navigation buttons. Dont like the defaults? The player provides an easy way to assign keys to all functions from one screen. If you dont like the skin provided, you can replace it with other skins. One area where I was very disappointed however was the streaming feature. Although it has the ability to stream audio/video, it doesnt provide an easy way to do it. What it provides is a place to type in a URL. That isnt a bad thing except there is no such thing as a copy/paste feature. So if you are surfing the net and come across a YouTube video that you want to watch, start memorizing a very long URL, because you cant just copy it in the browser and open The Core Player and then paste it in the provided location. This is one area where the developers need to spend a little more time. As it is in this build, it is almost a worthless feature. I have found a PC workaround to this shortcoming. If you are on your computer, you can copy a streaming media URL, and drop it into a text file. Save the text file on the Treos card, and then browse the card from The Core Players interface. It will recognize the file as a play-list and launching this opens the stream for viewing. What I would like to see however is a way to browse and open all from the Treo. Being able to copy from my Treos browser and Paste in The Core Player would be a great start.

MP3 on CorePlayer
CorePlayer MP3 player

View largerClick image to view larger.

Note: Since I am using an EDGE connection, I couldnt fairly rate the streaming ability, since video is well known to stress this data pipeline. Video for me was choppy, but was expected to be just that. A Treo equipped with an EVDO data connection should handle streaming with this app with no issues.

Another feature missing is an auto update capability. One thing I really like about Pocket Tunes is the ability to check for updates from the app and then download them through the data connection. I am hoping that this is a feature that finds its way into V1.5 also.

Pirates of the Caribbean on CorePlayer
Pirates of the Caribbean playing on Treo

View largerClick image to view larger.


The Core Player is certainly better than its freeware counterpart. Its easier to install, the user interface is much more attractive, customization of the audio, and the ability to build play-lists could make this the only media player you need for your Palm Treo. The developers not willing to offer a trial, and the very poor design to allow for streaming of content are both very disappointing in this particular build, however.

So is it worth the upgrade to the commercial version and leave the freeware app behind? Well, I havent deleted the freeware program off my Treo just yet. But I havent used it since obtaining the commercial version either, except for some comparisons for this review. Even with all the shortcomings I outlined above, I find myself choosing it over the freeware version for anything to do with video. But it really doesnt offer anything greatly improved on the video side of things that the freeware version doesnt already do. If you are looking for both a great MP3 player as well as a Video Player, this one is certainly worth consideration. If you are currently handling these tasks in other ways, my advice would be to wait and see how this app matures.

CorePlayer for Palm OS retails for $19.95. (also available, CorePlayer for Windows Mobile PocketPC)

Related Stories

Speak Your Mind