Have you ever downloaded a video file and been unable to play it using one of the familiar media players, like Real or QuickTime? Or maybe a friend in another country has sent you a DVD that won’t work in your machine because of those pesky – and totally artificial – region distinctions? Perhaps you just want a simple open source media player that’s easily compatible with multiple file formats and operating systems? Well, download the free VLC media player and give it a try. While all the other major media players failed to play certain movies in my eclectic collection, the VLC media player has always come through with average or above average quality.
VLC Media Player Download: How’s VLC different?
Most of us “regular” PC and Mac users – the folks who aren’t audiophiles or uber-informed tech geeks – are familiar with the basic media players, like Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and RealPlayer. But unlike those programs with their proprietary formats and limitations, VLC is a product of the open-source movement and made available under the GNU general public license. What that means for the average user is that it’s more universal. VLC Media Player comes available for nearly all systems (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and some of the more esoteric ones. Even more important, VLC Media Player can handle a wide array of file formats so you can watch downloaded movie clips, DVDs, and other video files without worrying about how things are configured, whether you need more codecs, etc.
VLC Media Player Download: What video formats can it handle?
· In my experience, VLC Media Player can handle MOV, AVI, ASF, WMV, and multiple MPEG formats successfully. Often, I’d encounter video files that would not play in Window Media Player or QuickTime but would play easily and properly play on VLC. (Some files would display the video part of a movie in other players while lacking sound – or vice versa.)
· In some situations, it can play RAR files while they’re still compressed. If not, just unpack them with WINRAR and use VLC to play them as you would other files.
· The one major video type that VLC can’t handle is Real (RM).
· VLC can play DVDs without regard to the annoying region system that renders many international DVDs unwatchable in the United States.
VLC Media Player Download: What else can it do?
· Depending on the file types in question, you can use VLC to convert from one type to another while maintaining at least decent quality. Results vary based on the kinds of video or audio in question, of course.
· It has all sorts of streaming capabilities that go beyond the needs of the average user. For more details on that, check out www.videolan.org
VLC Media Player Download: Where do I get it?
The VLC Media Player download is available for free directly from the Video LAN project website, the aforementioned www.videolan.org. It’s been available to the public since 2000, and the most recent release, as of this writing, was the 0.8.5 version in May of 2006.
VLC Media Player Download: Other thoughts
Besides the fact that it’s just cool to use and share open source software, VLC is laudable for being easy to use, taking up few system resources, and keeping its appearance simple. It’s perfect for someone who wants superior functionality with minimalist aesthetic. And the logo is a curious orange traffic cone.