Why use a third-party media player? Well, most people don’t really know what goes on behind the scenes with regards to digital video. There’s encoding, decoding, and transcoding along with a whole host of competing video formats (AVI, MP4, MOV, MKV, etc.) and audio formats (MP3, OGG, FLAC, WAV, etc.) — and that’s only scratching the surface! I won’t bore you with the technical details.
Usually, the end result for most people is frustration. All they know is they downloaded a video online (whether legally or otherwise) but are unable play it. Or maybe the video plays, but there’s no audio — or vice versa. We’ve all been there. In the past, this issue was resolved by downloading the proper codec or codec pack, such as the venerable K-lite Codec Pack.
More recently, this issue is addressed simply by using the awesome and free VLC Media Player by VideoLAN. VLC is extremely powerful, cross-platform (there are Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS versions available), and open-source software. It can play just about anything you throw at it — DVDs, CDs, video files, and audio files — and best of all, there is no need to download additional codec packs.
Check back in on Fridays for more awesome free software recommendations. I don’t necessarily plan on writing one of these up every Friday, but once or twice a month, so stay tuned.
Brian Dunham is a Cisco and Microsoft certified network and systems engineer with over a decade of experience in the Information Technology field. When he is not in front of a computer he can be found out in the wilderness canoing, hiking, fishing, or camping.