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As of 2012, there are a ton of media players available on the market, and many of them are free. With such a large selection, sometimes it can be hard to pick which software will suit you best.
For media players, I’ve tried a bunch of them but ultimately settled on Media Player Classic – Home Cinema, which will be known as MPC-HC from here on out. Pay special attention to the fact that I’m talking about the Home Cinema version–NOT the original version that was released way back in 2003.
The Home Cinema fork of Media Player Classic began in 2006 after deviating from the original codebase. At the time of this article, this new branch continues to run strong in terms of development and perpetually adapts to the ever-changing world of video codecs and file formats.
If you are someone who loves clean, sleek, or minimalist designs, then you’ll love MPC-HC. In its windowed form, there is little to no clutter. Everything is neatly arranged in an intuitive manner. Nothing is extraneous.
Other media players may have unique skin designs that try to emulate the look of a DVD player or something along those lines. MPC-HC does not. Instead, it follows the traditional Windows layout consisting of a menu bar, a status bar, a control bar, and the main playback area.
In addition, when a special control or toggle is invoked (such as when you change the volume or enable subtitles), a tight overlay appears in the corner. It’s both informative and unobtrusive.
One of the great things about MPC-HC is that it supports a number of different codecs straight out of the box. From MPEG to Xvid, from VCD to DVD, you’ll be able to watch nearly any video encoding format without having to install third-party codec packs.
Straight from the MPC-HC website itself, they say:
MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 playback. Media Player Classic is capable of VCD, SVCD and DVD playback, without the need to install any additional software or codecs.
MPC Home Cinema also has H.264 and VC-1 with DXVA support, DivX, Xvid, and Flash Video formats available. MPC can also use the QuickTime and the RealPlayer architectures. Media Player Classic supports native playback of OGM and Matroska container formats.
Supported File Formats
As a media player, MPC-HC does more than just video playback. If you ever need to listen to a single audio track or view a single image, MPC-HC has got you covered.
MPC-HC supports these video formats out of the box:
MPEG, MPG, MP2, VOB, ASX, ASF, WM, WMV, AVI, D2V, MP4, SWF, MOV, QT, FLV, MKV
MPC-HC supports these audio formats out of the box:
AC3, DTS, WAV, WMA, MP3, M3U, PLS, WAX, OGG, SND, AU, AIF, AIFC, AIFF, MIDI, CDA
MPC-HC supports these image formats out of the box:
JPEG, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
But there’s more! Some other great features included in MPC-HC:
- Option to enable anti-tearing. Tearing can be a jarring experience when you’re watching a video on your computer. MPC-HC can utilize a graphic mode that is often used for video games in order to solve tearing.
- Remote control access for Androids. By installing the MPC – Remote Lite app on your Android device, you can interact with MPC-HC from a distance. This is great for those times when you’re watching a movie on your computer from a distance and want to pause, rewind, or skip without getting up.
- Better support for 64-bit versions of Windows. The 64-bit version of MPC-HC will only use the 64-bit codecs installed on your machine.
It may or may not fit your personal preferences, but there’s no denying that this media player is one of the best available.