We evaluate a collection of media players to find the best one
If we strip away everything else, your choice of car doesn't matter so long as it gets you from Point A to Point B. However, there are all kinds of factors that separate a hot rod from jalopy on wheels, including price, performance, amenities, maintenance, and more. So it goes with media players, which are vehicles for your music and movies.
Like cars, not all media players are created equal. Some are big and bulky, others are lightweight and nimble. If you all you care about is the ability to play your favorite song over and over, just about any media player will do, but why short change yourself? Of course, going through the process of testing them all is a daunting task, so it's understandable if you want to roll the dice with a random selection.
Better yet, get your click (or tap) finger ready and digest our evaluation of some the most popular (and not so popular) media players around. As we go from one selection to the next, we'll tell you what we like and despise about each one, and then pick a winner.
For most video-watching aficionados, VLC is an essential piece of software. The open-source app is well known for being a fantastic movie and music player, but there are a few clever tricks that can help you get a lot more out of the media player. We gathered seven fun and useful VLC features, that will help you get the most out of the media player.
We’ve recommended VLC on more than one occasion, and for good reasons. It’s the swiss army knife of the video playback world. It supports more formats and codecs then we can count, installs quickly, and is updated frequently. With the upcoming release of Windows 8 however, it will start offering a new killer feature most people probably didn’t care about before - DVD playback. Microsoft’s decision to not support DVD playback in Windows 8 unless you shell out the extra cash for media center has created a ton of vitriol in comment feeds around the web, but also a pretty obvious question. If a free and open source app can offer the feature, why can’t Microsoft? ZDNet blogger Ed Bott set out to answer the question, and his findings may surprise you.
The arrival of an Android version of the hugely popular VLC media player has always seemed more like a question of when rather than if, especially ever since the open source player hit the App Store in September. According to lead VLC developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf, it is now just a “matter of weeks” before an Android version of VLC becomes available.
Kempf told GigaOm that VLC for Android has been in development for months now, but the team was initially hindered by the fact that Android’s multimedia output libraries are in Java. However, the recent release of an updated Android NDK has made life a lot better for the VLC team as it is now a lot easier to use native code for apps.
While most VLC libraries have been ported to Android, the developers are now working hard to ensure optimum compatibility across the largely incongruous Android ecosystem.
If you're a user of iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad, you might want to snap up VLC for your chosen device before it's gone forever. Rémi Denis-Courmont, one of the principal developers of VLC, explained that VideoLAN (the foundation that supports VLC) is not pleased with how the app is distributed. They have filed a notice of copyright infringement with Apple that may force the removal of the app.
As it turns out, VLC for iOS is developed by a 3rd party developer called Applidium. Apple's iTunes terms allow VLC to only be installed on 5 devices. This is a form of DRM, and as you may know, VLC is open source and distributed under the GPL. That means Apple's DRM scheme is unacceptable to the VideoLAN foundation.
Apple has, in the past, simply removed apps that fall into a similar category. It's spectacularly unlikely that they'd modify their terms for this one app, even if it is so high profile. Denis-Courmont contends that open source software would not be where it is today if not for licenses like GPL, and perhaps users should be looking for apps on more open platforms.
I recently purchased a Sony Handycam HDR-CX150. It records in full 1080p HD and saves the files in .m2ts format. When I first transfer these files from the cam to the computer and play the .m2ts files on my Sony software, the video is clear, crisp, and looks the way I think full HD video should look. But .m2ts won’t play on any media player on my computer except VLC Player, and then the quality is horrible—it tears and won’t play right. So I am forced to convert it to a full HD H.264 file or something of the same quality. I have tried every converter program from HandBrake to AVS Video Converter. I don’t care about cost or hard drive space; I just want to know if there is any way to convert my full HD .m2ts files to a format that will not lose any, or barely any, video quality. I don’t care if the output file is larger than the input file! I have 12TB of storage between my computer and server. I’m using a 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.7GHz, a Radeon HD 4890, and 6GB of DDR3; I don’t think my hardware is the problem.
First, it was Firefox, then it was Chrome, and now it is VLC. Another fantastic open source software title is making it easy for developers to enhance an already fully featured application.
At the moment, VLC extension support is limited to the nightly builds, so there currently is not a “stable build,” and subsequently there aren’t many extensions to download (one, in fact). The extensions use a lightweight scripting language known as Lua, which is embedded inside the media player. Extensions can range in functionality from getting lyrics and finding subtitles, to getting the latest concert information for an artist.