07 October 2010

Echo: A Excellent WPF based Last.FM Stream Radio Player App

Thirteen23 logo

Thirteen23 is a Startup focused on UI-UX geared .NET App development (most of the time) that works in WPF and Silverlight. I find their Apps to be quite interesting so i am reviewing my favorites.

EchoApp Logo

There are many Last.FM apps out there, but there aren’t many really good ones, much less when it comes to desktop based ones, that happen to be focused in the Last.FM Stream Radio part of Last.FM.

Echo is a WPF/NET 3.5 based Portable (Folder Contained) app that integrates Last.FM Stream Radio into a rich, intuitive and yet simple experience for your Windows OS desktop.

Usage

First, you need to download the Echo App zip and extract the folder into a USB drive if you plan to carry it around or to your Program Files folder. If you want to be able to launch Echo from Start > Search (in the case of Windows Vista and Windows 7). Just copy and paste the exe file anywhere into your “All Programs” list in the Start Menu. In the case of Windows XP, you can add a shortcut in the Start Menu and Desktop. This will make the Echo app appear right away whenever you call it via Windows Search.

Now lets take quick tour around the app:

Top Artists

Echo Top Artists

Load up Echo and the first thing you will see as it wakes up is the current Top Artists in Last.FM. These floating band/artist names represent the most played during the last 24hrs. This section will always serve as your Start Screen when using Echo and it is represented by the 3 stars icon.

Recent Stations

echo recent stations

Represented by the clock icon, it will show your Radio Station history while using the app in a chronologic ordered  list. If you click its icon when playing a song, the list will appear along side the Radio Station View.

Favorite Stations

favorite stations

Same kind of view and behavior than with Recent Stations. It is represented by a single star, just like you are used to in IE or any other browser.

Radio Station View / Player View

Echo Radio Station View 

The Radio Station View (A.K.A Player View) will not show until you search for a band name. Search for a band in the “Start a Radio Station” search field to initiate it.

Once you do, it will usually give you a song from the band you searched for. But not always. In the case you don’t see a actual song from the band you were searching for right away, it will offer you a song from a similar band to the one you searched for. If you don’t agree with what you got as first play, just skip to the next song – and band – by forwarding to any of the 2 songs queued behind the one that is playing.

Echo’s Player view as you can see is simple but very pretty. I also happen to find it familiar, because the whole Echo UI-UX is like a mix of the design style you can find in HTC Sense and in Zune Software.  But that is of course, just my opinion.

While you play songs in this view, you got several specific options to explore:

1.-Favorite

Save the station to the Favorite Stations list

2.-Peek

Check what songs will follow the one you are listening by hovering on the album covers.

3.-Forward

Using the button or by clicking on one of the queued songs in the album covers behind the one that is playing

4.-Control Volume

Use the volume button by hovering it with your cursor and then sliding up and down while holding it.

5.-Choose A Similar Radio Station

Click in a band name from the linked-up bands on the Similar Bands list that Echo displays,  that changes as songs play or as you change stations.

6.-Activate Slideshow View

Echo Slideshow View

Quite similar if not identical to the one from Zune Software, this view will display photos from the band or artist while the song plays. The photos will pan to the side or zoom in as they transition from one to one, fading in and fading out.

7.-Activate  Taskbar View

Echo Taskbar View

Also very similar to the one from Zune Software, this view will show the album cover from the song playing, while at the same time a little level moves to indicate the progress of the track. Control will appear if you hover with your cursor.

Some Notes

From the apps that i have been able to use from Thirteen23, it remains a favorite of mine. But i also find it  the very best Windows based Last.FM Stream Radio Player App (yeah, such a mouthful) that you can use and enjoy.

For that reason, i just had to share it. And it is a app that is actually no longer formally being offered by Thirteen23. The reason i got from them, i will keep to myself. But you should still be able to use it. just grab it while its hot and lets hope that Thirteen23 don’t issues me a takedown.

It can be used in Windows XP, Vista & 7.  It needs the .NET 3.5 framework  to be installed in order to run, but this is already installed by default in Vista SP2 and Windows 7. If you are in XP please check before you run it.

Enjoy!

*Update* (12/10/10): You DO CAN use it from anywhere in the world. I use it sometimes and i am in Mexico City.  Just that you need to be behind a USA IP before launching it. Sorry for not adding that detail originally.

Linkage

Echo                     <—Direct Download Page

 

*Update 2* (19/07/2013): It no longer works.  Last.FM has now finally pulled the plug on their Radio API. Unfortunate because it was such a great app.

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9 comments :

Anonymous said...

Awesome! It works great on Win7 64bit and it is for free!

Anonymous said...

I live in Germany and it works just fine without any VPN connection :) Echo is awesome!!!

Avatar X said...

@Anon1

Yes, also works in Vista 64 and even XP 64 for that matter.

@Anon2

Thanks for the heads up. I looked into it by using VPN's from several places around the world.

Looks like Canada, Germany, France and Sweeden can use it as it is from the 10 locations i tried. But Mexico, U.K, France, Italy and Russia are for example blocked from using it, at least they were in my little test. So, i don't have a clue on the why or how. But i will add a note to the post on this update.

Avatar X said...

@Anon2

Oh, and glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

amazing

Avatar X said...

@Anon3

It is. when it comes to a good radio-like with a Zune Software level of dazzle. Echo still beats Grooveshark Radio or others by a mile.

Anonymous said...

The app starts just find but when it selects an artist and tries to play it, the app throws an error and has to close. No info on the error, its just a blank pop up window with an OK button. I'm using Windows 7 x64.

Avatar X said...

@Anon4

Yes, unfortunately as it says at the very end of the post. You need to be behind of a VPN with a USA IP in order to use it if you are outside of the USA. just like with other many USA only serces.

Avatar X said...

@Anon4 Services, not serces.

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