Nowadays, it’s more common than not to watch your favourite flick from your laptop rather than trek out the theatre and shell out the cost of a ticket. Call me a Millennial, but who has the time or the money to spend $20 on a bag of popcorn, just so you can watch the latest Blockbuster with a bunch of rowdy pre-teens?
You may be thinking, “but doesn’t my laptop already come with a video player?”
You’re right. Windows does comes with a standard video player, but let’s be honest with each other in admitting it’s not exactly the high-performing multifaceted tool we all wished and hoped for. But you don’t have to settle for the player that came complimentary with your laptop. In fact, there are a number of free and paid players out on the market that will provide you with everything you’re looking for in a video player.
Just check out the 10 options below!
VLC Media Player: A Free & Easy-To-Use Player
I really like the VLC Media Player because it’s free, and it’s also excellent for users who don’t want their screen littered with useless buttons and tools they’ll never use. Simple is the name of the game with this user-friendly player. But don’t be dissuaded from downloading this program because it sounds like a tool for computer-illiterate noobies.
The bottom line:
This player really enhances the user experience, all while displaying a sleek and attractive interface. Some additional goodies the VLC Media Player offers includes:
- Creating bookmarks and playlists for your podcast subscriptions, media files, and Internet radio stations.
- Customize the picture and audio to create a unique experience. Users can specialize and equalize the sound to simulate the effect of different room sizes. Plus, you can rotate, sharpen, brighten, and zoom the video.
- Play a wide variety of different audio and video formats (DVDs, VCDs, CDs etc.).
- Record live TV with a decoder card.
Combine these features with an interface that doesn’t annoy users with ads, spyware, or toolbars, and you have a winning combination. The simplistic interface won’t interfere with your viewing experience because all command buttons are placed at the bottom of the screen, so it won’t feel like you’re just watching another poor-quality YouTube video.
Overall, an excellent player that offers a lot of options, while also being extremely user-friendly.
KM Player: A Slightly Complicated Jack of all Trades Player
The KM Player is a great option for users who have the tendency to play out-of-the-box video files. Other players may stumble over unconventional output, but not the KM player. This little player supports:
And your viewing experience isn’t simply limited to playing files. KM Player allows you to create multimedia libraries for your music and videos, so you can quickly and easily find everything you need without having to search haphazardly for hours on end. You can even turn the KM Player into a makeshift DVD player using all of the features you would expect from a standard DVD player.
Are there any downsides?
Well, although the user interface is sleek and attractive, it’s not exactly obvious how to use. After downloading the program (which can be slightly confusing in itself), you may feel a bit lost when you want to play your first file. Where are the command buttons? What does that button even do? These may all be initial thoughts as you scramble to understand how to operate this player for the first time.
Overall, the KM player can be a great option for users who need support for different file formats, and don’t mind doing a bit of legwork to learn how to navigate KM’s interface.
GOM Media Player: Not Just a Pretty Face
Maybe you’re someone who just wants a player that doesn’t look like the interface for a 1980’s space battle game. You can appreciate cool and unique features as much as the next person, but your main concern is not being distracted from the film you’re watching because you can’t stop looking at the horrible moving ads and clunky buttons.
If this sounds like you then GOM Video Player is the solution.
GOM’s slick design is what’s often noted in reviews for this player. The commands are designed to look like buttons you’d see on an actual device, and the edges of the player resemble brushed steel.
But GOM isn’t just a pretty face. In fact, this player supports a vast range of video formats (MKV, FLV, mp4, mov, mpg, ts, avi etc.). And if for some reason GOM doesn’t support the file you’d like to play, the applications comes complete with a Codec Finder that points you in the direction of where you can find a download that will support your desired file.
And GOM’s usability is nothing to scoff at.
Newbies will find they can easily create personal playlists, fast-forward, and rewind. And more advanced users will appreciate the ability to adjust the size of subtitles, capture screen images, and adjust the stereo mode for audio playback.
Overall, GOM Video Player is a great option for users who want a sleek player that can support a variety of file types in an easy-to-navigate format.
MPC-HC: Lightweight Player with Heavy Duty Playing Power
MPC-HC is another excellent and adaptable video player that supports multiple types of files. And although this little player is free, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be weighed down with annoying flashing tool bars or advertisements that are going to detract from your video watching experience.
The bottom line:
MPC-HC is a lightweight player that won’t weigh down your computer, while still handling most file types like a pro. Plus, integrated codec support will help you play any file type no matter how obtuse or uncommon.
Overall, MPC-HC is a great player for users who wants a lightweight tool that can support a wide range of files.
Potplayer: Versatile with Hidden Depths for Newbies and Experts
No list of best video players would be complete without the mention of Potplayer. This player already comes complete with codecs for almost every file format you could think of. This is a great feature for newbies who don’t want to pull their hair out in frustration every time they have to download a codec whenever they want to play an uncommon file type.
Some unique and interesting features include:
- The support of 3D glasses.
- Ability to take screen snapshots.
- Ability to choose sound cards.
- Ability to create different albums, which are saved as playlists.
Although the use of this player is not instantly obvious, with a bit of intrepid exploration most users will be delighted to discover many advanced options simply by clicking on various menus. At the outset, this player can appear simplistic, but Potplayer contains numerous advanced features perfect for both newbies and experts alike.
Overall, Potplayer is a great player for those who want comprehensive file support, while being able to use fun and advanced features.
DivX Player: Burn Files & Play All-in-One
Simply designed and user-friendly, DivX is an excellent player to use for HQ video playback and cross-device streaming. In fact, using DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), users can share videos over their home network with any device that is compatible.
Interested in what video types are supported?
In addition, you can use DivX to burn videos onto a CD, DVD, or Blue-Ray disks if you decide you’d like to watch your favourite movies from a DVD player or computer. So no need to download a separate program for burning videos onto disks because DivX is an all-in-one package!
Plus, DivX has additional features (e.g., FF/RW) that will allow you to access video chapters, organize playlists, utilize audio playback, and use a Recently Watched playlist so you can start watching where you last left off.
Overall, Divx is a great player for users that want to be able to transfer and burn files to be used on other devices.
Real Player: Perfect for Social Media Sharing
Have you ever watched a great video or movie and wanted to share it with friends, only to be disappointed that your player doesn’t have such a capability? This conundrum wouldn’t be an issue if you were using Real Player! Sharing downloaded video links via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and email makes connecting with friends easy using this player.
Additional features include:
- Sharing movies onto the cloud and accessing them from compatible devices.
- Creating bookmarks for favourite shows and channels.
- Easy to navigate interface.
- Supporting a variety of file types including m4a, mp3, wma, avi, EVRC etc.
Overall, Real Player is a good option for users who want an easy-to-operate experience with the option of upgrading to the premium version if they require more features.
Price: Free or $4.99/month for Premium.
UMPlayer: A Video Player for the People
Maybe you’re sick of these ‘Freemium’ (aka Premium for a fee) players that never deliver as much as they promise. UmPlayer may be the perfect solution for you because it’s an open source media player. Open sourcing has resulted in no additional ‘bloatware’ to bung up your computer during installation, and a relatively simplistic video watching experience.
Open sourcing also means no official corporate support platform. So if you’re having troubles using UMPlayer, you’ll have to use the community support forum. Forums can be a legitimate alternative to a help line, but there’s really no guarantee that you’ll even receive a response to your question.
But there are so many benefits to using UMPlayer, that the overall user experience outweighs this minor downside. For example, the player is ultra efficient by using only a fraction of your computer’s available power, making it easy to run other programs simultaneously.
Overall, UMPlayer is a good option for users who support a corporate-free program that is free of annoying ads and software that come part and parcel with other players.
Plex: Simplistic Streaming Master
Gone are the days when you were forced to watch videos from your 15’ computer screen. Video players like Plex will allow you to watch videos from a number of compatible devices like your tablet or smartphone. Plus you can even access your content remotely like if you’re waiting in line for the subway or at lunch when you’re at work.
And you don’t need to be a tech geek to figure out how to stream media from their home network because Plex is so user-friendly. Other bonuses include DigiCert security and additional content from third-party channels.
There is a catch though:
While the initial download is free, if you want to access any of the player’s best additional features then expect to pay. Plus, Plex’s usability comes at the expense of it being a relatively closed system compared to open source serves like UMPlayer.
Overall, Plex is a great option for users looking for an easy-to-use player that will allow anyone to transfer media to compatible devices.
Price: Free with additional features costing extra.
Windows Media Player
Yes it is! Quite amazingly since the launch of Windows 98 specifically, Windows Media Player has never led down its proponents and also it holds the title of the most ancient multimedia players in the industry when there was not much concept was around for such a development. In fact, if I say that it was Windows Media Player initially that sparked the creation of and developments of several other multimedia players in software development realm then it would not be an exaggerated sentence.
With the latest Windows Media Library, started from Windows 7, the whole design and options as well as play modes has been altered in this Windows featured software with some great functionalities being added and modified. Surely, I will not hesitate to tell you that should you continue to use Windows built in media player for your audio and video needs, it would not be a hoax move at all.
Jet Audio (Basic and Plus)
Among our best 6 multimedia players, Jet Audio is following right after its great competitor the VLC player. Jet Audio encompasses a dynamic set of options for creating extravagant and high quality sound effects and environment that takes your audio/video experience right onto the next level of brilliance.
While Jet Audio’s interface might not sound too easier for a user but unlike VLC, which is much ahead in the race, the playlist options, CD-burning options, sound options, and several other notable features that Jet Audio gives to its user is incomparable so far. However, to enjoy some of its services fully, one needs to buy the Plus premium version of Jet Audio. Other than that, the basic version is enough to play your songs and videos with some good features at hand. Jet Audio is fully available on all major platforms today.
SMPlayer: Ultra-Customizable & YouTube-Friendly Player
After it went through a bit of rough patch, SMPlayer has emerged new and improved to offer its users a completely updated and enhanced experience. In addition to important features like codecs that will allow you to play a wide variety of file types, SMPlayer also offers YouTube support that allows you to play videos directly from YouTube.
This multi-functional player manages to stay lightweight while offering an impressive array of features that allows users the ability to customize their viewing experience including an audio-video delay timer and a video equalizer that adjusts hue, brightness, saturation etc.
And there’s more:
There are tons of options for users to customize their content. Build personal playlists for your music and movies. Plus, the interface itself is extremely adjustable so users can make it look the way they want.
Overall, SMPlayer is a great option for users who love to customize their content for a personal video-watching experience.
Well, I hope this guide has helped narrow down which video player will best meet your needs! If you like this article then please share it!