Monday, August 30, 2010

My Touchscreen Jukebox

Ever since I first started listening to music as a child, I wondered what it would be like to have a jukebox. Something that me, my friends and family could use at parties and other gatherings to easily and conveniently listen to music. I've had the idea for quite a while. Ever since I starting going to bars at the ripe old age of 18 and saw the cool touchscreen jukeboxes that they had hanging on the walls, I knew I had to have one. If one was to buy a jukebox from a vendor, one would surely need deep pockets because jukeboxes, touchscreen or otherwise, ain't cheap. So, I decided to "roll my own."

My first thought was to buy one of the recently made all-in-one touchscreen PCs from a vendor like Asus. These, however, are still in the $400-range for a used item. Too much $$$. My next thought was to use my existing desktop, and add a touchscreen as a 2nd monitor. Touchscreens are in the hundreds of dollars for a new unit, so I had to go used. Enter my old friend eBay. I found an ELO 15" USB/VGA touchscreen pulled from a kiosk somewhere in Texas for $75 shipped. Score! I added a Monoprice vesa mount so that I could hang it on the wall, and some conduit for neatness of cabling. I mounted it next to my PC at shoulder height. So far so good. The monitor works exactly as advertised. But what about software? This is the key to any good jukebox system, so I had to choose carefully. Enter E-Touch/Freebox. After many, many hours of research, I found this suite to be by far the best and most authentic jukebox experience of any software on the Internet. It's skinnable and customizable. It supports FLAC files after some plugin installs. It supports my existing cover art (cover.jpg) and tags. It's very responsive with my touchscreen. I'm running the final version 5 (the actual number escapes me). While not perfect, it's the closest thing to perfect touchscreen jukebox software that you'll find. Highly recommended.

I haven't had a full scale test of this unit yet (read: drunk people using it), but that will be coming soon I hope. In the mean time, I'll continue tinkering with it and will post my findings as needed. I may update to the recently released Version 6.