These days, there are an unbelievable amount of video formats because of all the various operating systems, mobile phones, Internet formats (like DivX and Flash), etc. etc. etc. To decide what video players are best for the Windows platform, then, we need to find players that support as many formats as possible, including streaming videos, and that are fast, simple, and reliable.
1. VLC Media Player – First designed by a group of French programmers and academics who called their group VideoLAN, it took this player quite a few years to get the respect it deserved. VLC Media Player is far and away one of the top (open-source) video players you can find on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux). It supports practically any codec automatically, and is very light and fast. Honestly, its a bit surprising that it hasn’t been relased as the default video player on more Linux distros for that matter.
2. KMPlayer – This rising star is a nerd’s dream, as it easily allows users to capture audio, video, and screenshots in a variety of ways. Additionally, KMPlayer supports tons of container formats like VCD, DVD, AVI, MKV, Ogg Theora, OGM, 3GP, MPEG-1/2/4, WMV, RealMedia, and QuickTime, just to name a few. In their words, “the player provides both internal and external filters with a fully controlled environment.” Sounds pretty sweet.
3. Miro Player – The interesting thing about Miro is that it not only plays tons of video formats, but it can also download videos from websites like YouTube or Yahoo, or even via BitTorrent. It is fully featured with all kinds of constantly updated tidbits. The only drawback perhaps is that its a bit overkill for people who just want a simple, reliable video player.
4. WinAmp – One of the first popular media player ever, WinAmp continues to maintain its fan base because of its awesome skinning options, attractive and easy interface, and wide support of many formats. They continue to think up new features that no other company does. Think of it as Windows Media Player plus iTunes, plus a ton of other stuff. WinAmp is also proud of the wide support it has for streaming formats, including Internet radio, Internet television, XM Radio, Singingfish, podcasts, RSS, and more. It also has extend-able support for portable media players, and users can access their media libraries anywhere via internet connections.
5. RulesPlayer – Not very well known, this video player by AfterVista is a codec lover and also a language lover. RulesPlayer supports all kinds of fonts and subtitles, and pretty much any video file you throw at it. You can even watch video files while downloading them! Light and safe, it deserves more recognition. And honestly, probably its own website!
6. GOM Player – Another not so well known player that deserves more respect. One of the claim to fames of GOM Player is that it can playback broken AVI files by skipping corrupted frames. Also, if you ever toss it a video format that it doesn’t support, it simply brings you to the proper codec download page, installs the missing codec, and you are back in business.
7. BSPlayer – Again, this program is awesome but its a bit overkill it seems. BSPlayer can play TV streams, podcasts, DVDs, and more. It automatically detects and manages most codec types, and is overall pretty reliable.
8. ZoomPlayer – Although not as supportive of every codec under the sun, ZoomPlayer is one of the quickest players around, built to use as few system resources as possible. It is light and attractive, and perhaps worth checking out sometime.