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Multimedia Player Reviews


What started as a student project with the goal of developing a general purpose media player that could handle audio, video and streamed content has now brought us to the long-time open source favourite VLC media player formerly known as VideoLan Client!

Installation

VLC Setup VLC media player has a highly portable framework and works across different platforms. It is available for Windows, Macintosh, and many Linux flavours. The installer is a basic 20MB file and requires 80MB of free space for installation. The wizard lets you choose the language of installation, components and the folder to install and luckily is free of any toolbar installation. On first run we are asked if VLC could get information from the internet and to automatically check for any updates available. Now you’re ready to go!

Interface

The player has an excellent menu based interface that is strictly simple and stripped down with command buttons placed methodically at the lower end of the screen.

The seek bar is bounded at both of its ends by granular speed control buttons to reduce and/or increase the speed of playback.

You have the usual buttons for pause/resume playback, stop playback, previous and next media in the playlist, open playlist, full screen toggle, extended settings for audio-video-subtitles effects and synchronization, repeat and shuffle.

The media information is listed at the bottom with the name of the file currently playing, playback speed and elapsed/remaining time that on double click opens a window to jump to a specific time. The volume slider at the right end enhances the playback volume to a max 200%.

The toolbars are fully customizable so you get to choose the buttons needed on the interface. Sometimes I wished the menu bar could be stripped off as all the options are available on right click.

Features

VLC has been one of the favourites for many crazy video cognoscenti and is entirely self-contained so that it remains unruffled against any esoteric video formats to make sure that no additional codecs are required for playback.

It lets you create bookmarks and basic playlists to store your local media files, podcast subscriptions and Internet radio stations. The media player is powerful, light, fast and features fully customizable hotkeys that makes it very easy to use.

CPU usage of the player has gone down and it now uses GPU decoding for HD media playback (1080p) to ease the CPU from processing jobs.

The default interface that looks simple enough can be fancied by skinning though for some skins it looks a little buggy. VLC has the capability to repair broken content and supports many subtitle formats. Enabling the advanced controls sets buttons to record, take a snapshot, loop and frame by frame playback. You can add effects to the video and audio, spatialize and equalize the audio to simulate different room sizes ( such as Amphitheater), zoom, rotate, crop, colour, sharpen, set the brightness, hue and contrast of the video. The player features can be enhanced by various plugins and extensions.

Streaming and DVD playback

The multimedia player allows users to play a huge assortment of audio and video formats including DVD, Audio CD’s, VCD and various streaming protocols.

This highly versatile player not only consumes media but also is a great choice for streaming/broadcasting media of any kind and plays many media types across various local and network sources. These audio and video sources can be recorded into media files and stored on your local PC (in the documents folder in .mpg format) which includes CSS-protected content as well.

The developer claims that VLC can also record live TV from a decoder card and act as a sort of mini-DVR in that respect. VLC media player is one of the best in DVD playback that made it first popular among many XP users especially with the bare minimum installation of their systems. If you have multiple displays, you can split the video into sections for a "video wall."

Pros:

  • Multiplatform support
  • No external codec installation required
  • Media converter and streaming, encodes outbound streams
  • Excellent playback quality and stability
  • Plays Internet radio and TV
  • Great choice for DVD playback
  • Has no spyware, adverts, user tracking or toolbar installations
  • GPU and DSP decoding
  • Support for extensions.

Cons:

  • Un-installing could be problematic as the player integrates into WMP core components
  • Seeking real media files causes short time glitches
  • No Blu-ray playback.

Verdict

VLC media player in simple terms is the swiss army knife of media playback software that marvels you with compatibilities and capabilities and its open source foundation and community makes sure that the player keeps improving and finally it’s a robust piece of software that lets a techie do all kinds of arcane things.

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