Television sets and CD players are rapidly becoming a thing of the past for me. I spend most of my waking day in front of the computer and so I have adopted the practice of having DVD’s and CD’s playing in the top right hand corner of the screen while I work. Whether it’s a DVD rental from the shop, BBC streaming news broadcasts or the new iTunes download, media players have become an essential part of my internet life.
Here’s a brief selection of the media players I have encountered over the past few years.
It’s not often that I recommend a Microsoft product but out of all the media players that I have tried over the years, I always end up coming back to Windows Media Player. It always works and is easy to use. It’s been a while since Microsoft released any updates to Version 11 but so far no complaints from me. Media Player is often pre-installed with new computers but if you don’t have it on your PC for any reason, you can easily download again from the above link.
2. Zoom Player
I used Zoom Player for quite a while before finally going back to Windows Media Player. Zoom Player played all the video files I gave it but I gave up on it in the end because it always disabled the “keep Zoom Player on top” option. So everytime I started Zoom, I would have to choose the “on top” option again from the menu. It got slightly annoying after a while. But this is still an excellent media player nonetheless.
What’s interesting about VLC is that it is [NO LONGER WORKS] open-source and you can also have a portable version for your USB stick. It’s also one of the few popular players that lets you play downloaded Youtube videos.
4. Miro Player
It used to be called Democracy Player. Now it’s Miro. This is also open-source and you can also download YouTube videos (apparently. I never tried). You can read more about it at previously posted Top 5 Internet TV Players.
5. DIVX Player
I have never used DIVX player, although I know a few people that swear by it (and laugh at me being impressed with Windows Media Player). You need the DIVX codec to play most video files and I have subsequently developed a dislike for DIVX because when you download the much needed codec, the DIVX player also gets installed onto your computer. I don’t know about you but software that barges its way onto your PC uninvited earns my eternal dislike.
For a player that mainly markets itself as a music player, it also plays video files remarkably well with amazing picture quality and sound. This is also my favourite music player as it has a really great skin which allows you to keep the player in a narrow bar at the top of your computer screen. Winamp is constantly updated with new versions.
How could we possibly end this post without mentioning Mr Steve Jobs and his iTunes application? iTunes is a close second favourite to Winamp when it comes to playing my music and since iTunes also plays regular MP3’s and CD’s, I figured it was worth a mention. I prefer Winamp because it comes across as lightweight and smooth while iTunes comes across as rather clunky. But iTunes has a nice burning facility if you want to backup your CD’s. However, if you’re only using it because of an iPod than have a look at our list of free iPod managers.