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Old 03-07-2007, 04:00 PM
Jason Dunn
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160
Default I'm Sick and Tired of Looking at Ugly Album Art

It's roll my sleeves and rant time!

Windows Media Center on Vista displays album art when listening to an album. This is a good thing - I'm a visual person and I enjoy seeing the album art for the song I'm listening to. The problem is that the album art displayed is the low-resolution (200 x 200 or 240 x 240) highly-compressed JPEGs pulled from the folder, rather than the 600 x 600 lightly compressed JPEGs I have embedded in the file itself. The result is a badly pixellated image that looks quite bad on my 26Ē LCD TV. It's hard to show you how this looks online, but here's my best effort.

Iíve created two rough mock-up images that shows what Iím seeing (albumart-FOLDER.png) and what Iíd be seeing if Media Center displayed the image embedded inside the file (albumart-FILE.png). If you open up each of those images in a different tab and flip back and forth you'll see a huge difference: it's like night and day. Now imagine someone who has Media Center running on a 50Ē TV and youíll see why the quality of the image matters. Apple seems to understand why quality album art matters, because most iTunes album art lookups will give you 600 x 600 album art.

In my research I discovered that if there is no album art in the folder, Media Center will show the embedded album art - but because Windows Media Player 11 and the Zune software will automatically extract embedded album art and place it in the folder if they see it's missing, this bit of information doesn't help at all. The solution? Media Center should display the album art inside the audio file as a first priority, and only display the folder.jpg file if thereís no embedded album art. This is a best of both worlds solution.

Whatís funny about all of this is that Windows Media Player 11 does display the embedded album art (if it re-sized it to fit the player that would be great, but thatís beside the point), and the Vista shell displays embedded album art when browsing through a folder. Itís only Media Center that seems to be ignoring embedded album art.
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