VLC Media Player : A review

VLC Media player is simply incredible …. I have been using it for more than an year now and it has never let me down … the best thing is that it plays just about any file format you wish to … it really does … even in this pathetic era where everyone is trying to develop a new format of audio/video.

And the other great thing about it is that it is opensource and free to use !!!

The popularity of this player is well reflected by the 89 million downloads {wow !} reported on its website as of now. { The current download rate is 1.1 downloads per second ! }

Presently the latest release is version 0.8.6h. This is a bugfix release.
You can download the player right here right now:
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ {9 MB }
or you can have the source code here:
Source-code

The interface of the VLC player appears really simple as compared to some of the other players available i.e. Windows Media Player and Real Player etc. But do not get deceived by its simple looks … it is compact but highly loaded and fully featured as i shall elaborate below :

Positives :

1. It is a Cross-platform open source media player with a very simple user- friendly interface; The setup file size is small and download and installation is easy and free.
OS supported: Win95/98/98SE/Me/2000/NT/XP/Vista/OS X/linux{various versions}
However in the upcoming versions, the support for older OS will be dropped.
2. Plays most formats : As i said above, a whole lot of formats are available these days and most players play only certain formats and display error messages for the rest. But VLC plays most audio and video foramts. Infact there are so many formats i cant mention them here. So you can get the list on here –
supported formats: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/features.html
Running DVDs of any kind is really easy and the playback quality is very good too. According to a review at sol4.net :
“….It not only plays them with support for menus etc regardless of the drive used for playback….VLC bypasses the drive, ignores the region setting on the disk and retrieves the encryption keys as it plays the title…..”
3. Plays incomplete video files too: Well if there is any part of the file which is playable then vlc will play it. I have experienced this a lot. I download lots of TV series from the net and occasionally i have files which are corrupted but still vlc plays a part of it. But when i try to play the same file in other players they completely refuse to play it.
4. Lots of skins : you can modify your vlc and give it a Windows media player look or an OS X look. Download skins here : http://www.videolan.org/vlc/skins.html
5. Other common features include a graphic equaliser, adjustment of video colours and options to take a snapshot of the screen while playing a video and the ability to increase the volume to 400% level { with notable loss in sound quality}. Also, the hotkeys are really helpful once you get used to them. eg. ctrl + up to increase volume upto 400% mark.
Lots of option for the advanced user are available in the preference window but the normal user never needs to disturb those settings.

Negatives :

1. When i run videos in the player and try to simultaneously perform other operations on my computer {why would i do that? :) } then sometimes my CPU gets overloaded and the colour theme of my PC automatically changes to vista-basic theme to save memory…
No i am not using an antique machine but the fact is that CPU overloading has been a problem with earlier versions of VLC and they have not completely sorted out the problem in the latest version as well.

2. The all too simple interface can be a bit problematic initially if you are used to working with some other player which have some features more user friendly than the others like creating playlists. However once you get used to the hotkeys things do get a lot simpler.

SUMMING UP …
Even if you dont use VLC player as your default media player because of its not-so-inspiring looks, it is still a must for your PC as a fall-back player because of its ability to run a great variety of formats. while i Tunes gives a fair competition when it comes to playing audio files, when it comes to playing video there is hardly a player so diverse as VLC player. And it keeps improving with each version update. The next version 0.9.0 is going to be released soon …

screenshots:http://www.videolan.org/vlc/screenshots.html

advanced users: http://www.videolan.org/doc/play-howto/en/play-howto-en.html

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