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VLC Media Player Does it All for Free

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Media, Software

VLC Media Player Does it All for Free

With the relatively recent success of Macintosh, the increasing mainstreaming of Unix-based systems, and new popular operating systems coming into play each year, it is important for software to be universal instead of just operating on Windows. The VLC Media Player is a program that embraces this concept, and is entirely cross-platform. It has even recently become available for Apple iDevices. VLC is a free and open-source solution for playing videos and music, and holds the number one spot on sourceforge.net for most downloads.


Compatible With Everything

One of the primary advantages of VLC Player is that it comes ready to play just about any file format that isn’t extremely obscure. This is because after the download VLC player also installs a vast array of video codecs for decoding and encoding video. Normally, for each new file format, the user would have to hunt down the proper codec online and manually install it; thanks to the FFmpeg project, VLC can play formats like mp4, flv, and 3gp without any special setup. It is also compatible with various formats of subtitles.

Notable Features

One of the most praised features of this software is its ability to play damaged or incomplete files. This is particularly useful in a number of circumstances, such as hard drive crashes or corruptions, failed downloads, interrupted file saves, or camera malfunctions. The program can be run directly from external storage media, making it ideal for use in public locations or playing videos on a new computer. Due to its open-source nature, many skins exist and are easy to create. VLC Media Player has the ability to interact with many different controllers including analog devices such as infrared controllers. Finally, perhaps not a useful feature but still interesting and humorous to some, VLC can render videos as ascii art.

Alternative Output

This software was originally developed as a way to stream media across a college campus. As such, it retains its streaming capabilities and can also act as a transcoder to display video on external devices. VLC supports UDP, RTP, RTSP, MMS, and HTTP streaming protocols. It can output a wide variety of video and audio formats, though not as many as it can read.

As is the case with many open-source programs, this gem isn’t nearly as well-known as it should be. It outperforms most media players in every way in terms of functionality and provides easy customization options. Users looking for a better media player would do well to give it a try.

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