Linux has some great video players available and while many could arguably win the title of "best", SMPlayer is our favourite for its sheer number of options and easy to use interface.
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- Can play a tonne of different video types without the need for additional codecs
- Remembers all your settings for every file you play -- from playback position to subtitles to filters and equaliser settings
- Configure font, size and colours for subtitles
- Switch audio tracks right from the menu
- Seek through videos using the mouse wheel
- Video equaliser lets you adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma of the video image
- Apply multiple filters like deinterlace, post-processing, denoise and even karaoke-like voice removal
- Create playlists with several video files that will play one after the other. Repeat and shuffle also supported
- Search automatically for subtitles on opensubtitles.org
- Much, much more
SMPlayer is just a GUI frontend for MPlayer, but it's probably the best MPlayer frontend around due to its sheer number of features. You can tweak all sorts of settings applying to video playback, whether it be using the video equaliser or the advanced filters, to make sure your video looks as good as possible. It also has a tonne of advanced settings in its Preferences menu for advanced users, and anyone can easily create video playlists to play videos one after the other.
Undoubtedly the coolest feature of SMPlayer is its ability to remember everything about each individual file you play. When you tweak a video -- whether that be increasing the brighness, adding a deinterlace filter, or viewing it with customised subtitles -- SMPlayer will remember all those tweaks the next time you start up that file and resume playing it where you left off with all those tweaks in place. You can do this in other players, but it's a bit labour-intensive. SMPlayer is great about remembering everything you do without any input from you.
SMPlayer's interface, while easy to use, isn't exactly the prettiest. It also has a lot of settings in its Preferences, which can seem overwhelming to new users, but its regular interface is far simpler than you'd expect than a program with this many features. SMPlayer also has trouble with DVD menus, which is a big drawback -- if you plan on watching DVDs (or full DVD images), you'll need something like VLC instead.
No video player is perfect and everyone has different preferences, so SMPlayer may not be right for everybody. That said, we think it's probably the most likely to satisfy the majority of users, but if it doesn't work for you, we recommend checking out one of the following players.
VLC is the most obvious competition, and while it's also very feature-filled, we find SMPlayer is friendly when it comes to tweaking the look of your video. However, VLC can play DVD menus like a champ -- an area where SMPLayer fails -- and every once in a while you might find a file that won't work in SMPlayer, but works in VLC. To be completely honest, we recommend having both on your system. SMPlayer has a feature set that we like better, but VLC is a great fallback player as it can play pretty much any video file you throw at it.
If you prefer something a bit simpler, you might try other MPlayer-based players, like GNOME MPlayer or even the command-line version of MPlayer. Both offer you a fair amount of settings, while keeping extremely simple interfaces for video playback. UMPlayer is also pretty cool, bringing nice advanced features along with a YouTube search bar at the top of the player for easy access to web videos on your desktop.
If you're using KDE (or just want a super user-friendly player), check out Kaffeine. Kaffeine does a great job of making it easy to play a playlist, video file, or DVD right form its nice Start menu and doesn't clutter up the interface with too many buttons. It also supports TV tuners (if you have one installed in your machine), and has a Preferences menu that's friendly to new and expert users alike.
These are just a few of the best video players on the Linux platform, but there are quite a few others out there. Got a favourite other than SMPlayer, or other than one of the alternatives we listed? Let us know why you love it in the comments.
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