Windows Media Player used to be the default media player for every Windows user, but ever since the introduction of Windows 8, it’s no longer free ($9.99) & it only works with Windows 8 Pro. While it’s easy to just search for a free alternative on Google, most of them are notorious for being bloatware. No fear though, as we have screened through all of them & come up with a list that works wonder & doesn’t clutter up your computer screen.
Developed by the same author as KMPlayer, PotPlayer is a frequently updated advanced multimedia player that supports most video formats with it’s built-in codecs. It’s lightning fast, & it offers excellent rendering quality for both A/V. The skin is customizable, & you get to set a standard skin for your player, or it can be customized to change automatically by itself.
If you wanted to play an old movie but some parts of the files appeared to be damaged/incomplete, this player will automatically skip over that part & resume at the next frame. Also, thanks to its hardware assisted decoders, whenever a high definition video is being played, it uses the video card within the system to decode the video stream, which in return will reduce CPU utilization and makes the playback smoother regardless of the size and quality of files being played.
Unlike most media players out there, potPlayer allows you to see what type of file is being played on the player right now, & this is an useful feature for those who wish to sort files based on file formats.
** Note: PotPlayer is originally designed for Korean audience but it has been translated for English users. It’s possible to update this software by clicking on the link provided in the ‘Options’ menu, but the updated version will be in Korean language, so if you wish to update to the latest version, kindly click on the link provided by us to make sure it’s in English. **
Probably the most well-known freeware among home users, VLC stays ahead of it’s competition thanks to the robust features & sturdy performance ever since it was first released. Don’t be fooled by it’s simple interface and assumed it’s not feature packed. It’s ability to play almost every single video format without the need to install external codecs makes it a number one choice among many users.
There are tons of controls and tweaks that you can apply to this tool. You may adjust the brightness, contrast, playback speed, etc… The list won’t end. If you are someone who’s accustomed to watch a movie with subtitles but it isn’t available on the DVD you’re playing, you can switch the volume up by 200% to hear what the actors are saying.
There were several times when this tool just hang & quits without any reason, but don’t let it deter your experience. It’s a wonderful software that deserves a try & I am sure you’ll enjoy using it.
GOM Player (Windows)
Don’t fancy a video player with bland interface? Well GOM Player is there for you. This slick looking player has edge that looks like polished steels, with playback buttons located at the bottom of the screen.
One nifty feature offered by GOM Player is the function to search for codecs on the internet if the built-in codecs that come with the player don’t support the video format, so you will have no problem in playing pretty much every video format available in this world. There’s a minor nuisance where a small upsell ticker is located at the middle of the screen, which links users to GOM’s products, but compared to most software that bundles with malware & flash banners, users can easily ignore it by simply changing to another skin.
Media Player Classic (Windows)
A lightweight & advertising free open source software, Media Player Classic allows users to play any DVD on Windows platform. What’s great about this tool is that it can be easily installed on any old computer, dating back as far as ’99. There are certain features that can enhance your movie viewing experience, such as the ability to download subtitles, and using your iPhone as a remote control by installing WebUI.
XBMC (Windows, Mac, Linux)
XBMC is a cross platform media player that’s available for Linux, OSX, & Windows. It offers a wide range of remote controls, & combined with a stylish interface, it’s the best thing you can ever get for your home theater. Because it’s an open source software, it has a large & supportive community behind it who’s willing to help beginners to set up this media player.
P.S. : KMPlayer has been excluded from our list because as of this writing, the current version of the player comes with annoying advertisement & malware, which we found to be a major letdown considering how great it used to be. For those who are thinking of upgrading your current version, please don’t! You’ll not be able to reverse this step once you clicked that upgrade button. A much better option would be to download PotPlayer, since it resembles KMPlayer & it’s developed by the same guy without those unnecessary advertising.