Not too long ago, I found myself impressed by the sleek functionality of GOM Audio for Windows. It turns out that GOM has its own free video player as well – GOM Media Player – and I knew I just had to check it out. Most people already know about the big name players, like VLC, but I wanted to see if the GOM player could match them in performance and quality.
GOM Media Player originates from South Korea and is the number one media player in that country. It’s also the primary client for GOMTV, which is a popular streaming service in said country. If that doesn’t convince you that there’s some serious clout behind GOM’s player, I don’t know what will. Join me as I explore this powerful piece of software to see what it can do.
Like all of the best programs, GOM Media Player presents you with a step-by-step introduction wizard to set up all of the basic features right away. First, you choose a mode: Normal (the default configuration), High-Quality (for high-quality displays, but requires more processor power), and TV-Output (optimized for televisions). You can always customize the settings further – these just provide you with a baseline setup.
The setup then guides you through a few sideline settings, like which codec settings you want to use, your speaker setup, subtitle font size, and whether or not you want to associate different file types with the GOM player. That’s it for the setup wizard. It’s easy to navigate and gives a glimpse into all of the features you’ll find in GOM, so I have good feelings about this.
I stand ambivalent on GOM’s user interface. In terms of aesthetics, the default skin (and the other skins that come packaged by default) are all on the ugly side. It’s not that they’re bad, but they seem dated with all the gradients and rounded corners. Fortunately, there are some user-created skins that you can find in their skin directory and those are beautiful.
In terms of layout, though, GOM is fantastic – informative and functional without being cluttered. You’ve got the typical buttons for playback and volume control, as well as three buttons for quick access to playlists, a control panel, and opening new files. What I like best is that regardless of which skin you use, approximately 90% of the interface is video playback. That’s what a video player should be: don’t distract from the video with interface elements.
The GOM player has something called a control panel, which gives you a wide range of control options for the current video being played. It’s split into four sections:
- Video: This panel controls the brightness, contrast, and saturation for the video playback. There are also buttons you can click to pan or zoom the video and even take screen captures.
- Audio: There’s nothing too special about this one. It’s just a 10-band equalizer that you can use to optimize your video’s audio playback.
- Subtitle: Now this is just cool. You can alter the size and position of subtitles on the fly. I like to watch with subtitles so I don’t ever miss any context, so this is fantastic for me. In addition, you can adjust the timing of the subtitles (back or forward) with one click of a button in case you have synchronization issues.
- Control: This panel lets you change playback speed (default, slow, fast) and lets you jump around in the video. Nothing special there. But there is an A-B Repeat mode where you can set a section of the video to repeat playback.
Here’s the thing about watching videos: once you have a file that you want to watch, it’s really annoying when issues arise that delay or prevent you from actually watching it. And even when the video plays, a lack of features can prove unsatisfying. Fortunately, GOM has some great features that will impress:
- Codec Finder: GOM comes equipped with a few codecs in the default installation. It doesn’t include a huge swath of default codecs because most users have no need for them (their words, not mine). But if you end up playing a video that GOM doesn’t have a codec for, it will search for one
- Image Capture: Like mentioned above, the GOM player can take screen captures of the video being played. You have the choice of saving it directly to disk or copying it to your clipboard. The Burst Capture lets you take multiple captures in quick succession.
- Audio Capture: GOM can strip the audio from a video and save it as its own file. You get to select the format and quality of the resulting audio.
- Video and Audio FX: Apply different effects to your video and audio in real-time if you want. Video effects include adding or reducing noise, sharpening images, deinterlacing, and deblocking. Audio effects include voice filters, reverb, and 3D stereo.
Supported Media File Formats
In case you’re wondering whether or not GOM Media Player supports a particular format before you decide to switch over, here’s the out-of-the-box list:
- Video: AVI, DIVX, MP4, FLV, MKV, MPG, MOV, WMV, TS, ASX, M4V, RM/RMVB, OGM, DAT, IFO, VOB.
- Audio: MP3, AAC, OGG, M4A.
- Subtitle: SRT, SUB, SMI, RT
- Playlist: ASX, PLS
I’ve always been a big proponent of Media Player Classic – Home Cinema for video playback but GOM Media Player is just too enticing to not consider the switch, especially since it’s completely free. I’ll be using it for the next few weeks and that should tell you something about how much I like the GOM player. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (nothing ever is), but I recommend that you at least give it a go. It’s worth it.