Five Best Video Players

We've come a long way since animated GIFs and video-game-style MIDI files were considered cutting edge computer-provided A/V entertainment. Take advantage of today's high-quality video with one of these five most popular video players.

Photo by horsager.

The movie used in the screenshots below is Big Buck Bunny—a completely open-source generated and Creative Commons-licensed short movie.

Media Player Classic (Windows, Free)

Media Player Classic started out as a project to preserve the simplicity and lightweight playback of the old Windows Media Player while keeping codecs and features current for the present generation of video. The outcome is an extremely lightweight, free, portable, and self-contained video player that has built-in codecs for a wide variety of media playback. The upside of such a design is you can use it on a machine that doesn't have the proper codecs installed for the video you want to watch. The downside is in some instances—although rare—it can conflict with an updated codec you have installed on your machine.

MPlayer (Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)

Originally designed to fill the void of a lack of adequate Linux media players, the development for the robust media player MPlayer has branched out and now includes versions for Windows and Mac, among others. MPlayer supports a wide variety of content and, perhaps owing to its Linux roots, pays extra close attention to hardware and hardware optimization to squeeze the most playback power out of your system.

GOM Player (Windows, Free)

GOM Player is another entrant in this week's Hive that, like VLC, excels at playing damaged and incomplete video. Originally designed as the streaming media player for GOM-TV, a Korean TV network, it is available outside of Korea with the GOM-TV streaming functionality disabled—although folks outside Korea still have access to the live streaming of StarCraft matches, StarCraft is so wildly popular among Koreans playing it is practically a national sport. GOM Player also includes a wide variety of sub-title tweaks, an important feature for a player from a country that consumes a lots of foreign media.

VLC (Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)

VLC is a media player with far-reaching appeal. It is available for over ten operating systems including systems as obscure as BeOS. Built with open-source code and fuelled by free decoding and encoding libraries, it has a history of innovation and performance; it was, for example, the first player that could play back encrypted DVDs on Linux. VLC allows you to play incomplete or damaged videos, so you can decide if it is worth finishing a download or repairing a video file. VLC can also play a variety of formats not commonly supported by media players, such as a raw DVD ISO file or AVCHD—a format currently used by many HD camcorders. VLC is available as a portable application.

KMPlayer (Windows, Free)

If you like all your media player's settings at your finger tips, KMPlayer has a lot to offer. The right click context menu is absolutely enormous and gives you nearly instant access to all manner of settings, including screen ratio, playback speed, video bookmarking, filters, and other effects. You can set KMPlayer to change its skin based on what media type you're playing or if you're running it on a media centre you can use an overlay skin to provide easy remote-based navigation. KMPlayer supports an extensive number of formats including DVD playback and is easily customised to your specific needs.

Can't believe your favourite didn't make it? Shocked we didn't mention your favourite feature of your player of preference? Set us straight in the comments.


    What about XBMC that is an awesome program and plays any video format i throw at it??


      hahahahaha WINAMP.... theres a throwback to the mid 90's..... Does anybody else still use this outated player?

        Do any of the others have Shoutcast Online Radio and Online TV?

    VLC all the way, baby. Having said that I haven't yet tried XMBC - although I though that was more of a media server-type solution?

    Media Player Classic Home Cinema. Enough improvements over the more-or-less defunct MPC to warrant its own place in the list.

    I still use winamp as my music player but I long ago stopped using it for video, I can't go past VLC its awesome!

    +1 for VLC

    I think a major omission in this article is the lack of mention of the internal/external codec issue. VLC does not require any external codecs. This is an important point of differentiation from those Media Players that do (ie MPC, MPHC).

    Not everyone wants to install external codecs in order to play video. (one of the reasons that VLC is so popular in this regard).

      i reckon that vlc is by far the best(especially cuz for some reason my wmp wont load any music on my comp atm) but i havnt figured out how to load your music onto vlc like u do in wmp. any ideas?
      p.s. forgive my bad grammar/spelling im only 13

    VLC +2

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now