While for many of us, Windows Media Player may serve as a good enough tool for video playback, but it’s certainly got it’s problems. Lets face it – for most part it’s perfectly capable of playing DVDs, but performs miserably when it comes to playing wmv or mpeg files which are a couple of generations old. Our hard-drives are littered with such video clips that come as attachments along with mails and it can get really frustrating when you’re faced with a message saying “A codec is required to play this file. To determine if this codec is available to download from the Web, click Web Help.” More often that not, the so-called “Web Help”, which takes you to the Microsoft Codec download page doesn’t prove to be of much Help 😡 !!
For a long time, I have been searching utmost lengths for a freeware third-party application that would dutifully play all these files without a single hiccup. Media Player Classic, which resembles the old Windows Media Player 6.4, proved to be one of the strongest contenders in this category. Unfortunately, some of the older files still refused to play. This led me off on another relentless search till I came upon this “too-good-to-be-true” media player named VLC. This terrific utility by VideoLAN happens to be one of those miracle applications which is capable of playing back virtually every type of audio and video files without requiring you to download any of those godforsaken codecs. And that includes DVD & VCD movies too.
VLC is a free & open-source cross-platform media player – which means it can be run on literally any OS ranging from Windows, Mac OS-X, BeOS, FreeBSD and numerous flavours of Linux. It is highly portable and can play almost any formats like MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg etc. But it doesn’t end there. VLC can double up as a multimedia streaming server in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. A full list of features is available here.
If you ask for an honest, unbiased opinion, I can’t really claim that this is THE ultimate media player ever – but yeah, I certainly haven’t come across a codec that this cool-tool cannot handle on its own. You can always give it a shot and provide some feedback on your own experience…