Why do I like VLC Media Player? Because it plays media. That’s pretty apparent in the title, however, so hear me out: The bane of Windows Media Player is that it straps a whole ton of accessories and add-ons into the picture when all you want to do is play a movie file. You don’t want to fuss with the library. You don’t want to go through a bunch of crappy skins or rudimentary add-ons. You don’t want to wait for Windows Media Player to load. You want a video. End of story.
Well, VLC Media Player does just that: It plays a wider range of videos than what the seemingly paltry Windows Media Player is able to handle. And if its supported formats aren’t enough, you can always install a variety of third-party codecs (or codec packs) that allow you to view files of all shapes, sizes, and configurations. It also lets you watch DVDs (or DVD images), play VCDs (who uses those, anyway?), and rock out to standard audio CDs within a lightweight, straightforward environment.
Of course, you’re a Maximum PC reader, so you’re probably interested in all the nuts and bolts that this little player has packed within its open-source frame. Here’s a fun one: Using the minimal-resource VLC Media Player, you can set up a live stream of your desktop that other VLC Media Player users can easily connect to within their respective programs. If you’re planning a business meeting and need everyone to see your screen for some reason, you can’t get much easier than a VLC-based stream.
VLC also comes with a comprehensive list of audio and video effects that you can activate at your leisure, including: graphic equalizers and spatializers; image hue, contrast, and saturation adjustments; a one-button “video wall,” video clone, and text-adding feature. You can select different audio and video tracks that you want to listen to or watch within a piece of media and, if necessary, adjust the audio channels on-the-fly. And you can even speed up or slow down your movies as if you had a big ol’ time-shifting dial right in front of you—now paging Dr. Who.
Heck, you can even use VLC to set a video as your Windows wallpaper. The list goes on.
In short, VLC Media Player is the open-source buffet to your Windows Media Player appetizer. You owe it to yourself to get a hearty meal of media, and VLC Media Player is the best way you’re going to do so.
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Former Maximum PC Editor David Murphy is a fan of apps. If you have apps that you're a fan of, let him know @thedavidmurphy !