For some years now, VideoLAN or VLC media player has occupied the top spot as the favored media player by video aficionados and newbie enthusiasts alike. You would have probably read reviews about a free software “not being the be all and end all’ of its niche, but in the case of VLC media player, that statement can be easily crushed under the hefty weight of its patronage.

It’s open source and it’s free

What makes VLC the best in the game? Well, for starters, VLC media player does not stop at touting killer features. Being an open source program, VLC quickly adapts to the needs of its users. Its developers are keen on bringing in more than a few upgrades and security patches during each upgrade. Of course this would not be possible without the altruistic contributions of other independent programmers and people with a soft heart—and deep pockets—for the bohemian lifestyle of programmers. The open source community is always quick on the uptake when their product just screams for an upgrade.

Golden but not as hefty

What surely clinches the deal for VLC is its being lightweight. The latest version, VLC 1.0.5 Goldeneye, is only a 17 MB download. During the installation, there wouldn’t be glitches even if you’re wearing your dunce cap. Once you click the “I Agree” button, the default options is satisfactory enough. Even if your attention span has gone short, the chances for an erroneous process are slim. A huge thumbs up already if you’re the type who’s more prone to leaping than looking first!

However, if you’re the type who checks everything first, fear not, VLC offers a customizable program folder location and choices of plug-ins to install. The actual installation process takes a few seconds to less than a minute to complete, depending on your computer’s specifications.

Dashing Personality

Since artificial intelligence is not as advanced as seen in futuristic movies, software’s personality depends on its features. The new VLC 1.0.5 , apparently inspired by James Bond , is as debonair as well.

However, VLC media player’s default skin admittedly needs a makeover. Its default skin begs a touch of aesthetics to be put into place. Thankfully, skins for VLC are easily downloadable on the Web.

Supported Formats

For its size, it’s quite remarkable that VLC media player offers full support for a variety of multimedia formats. These include MPG, AVI, ASF, WMV, WMA, MP4, 3GP, DIVX, OGG, Matroska, Real, WAV, AC3, Raw DV, FLAC, FLV, DVD, VCD and Audio-CD to name a few. Other multimedia players almost always need a separate codec installation to read these formats, but with VLC media player, there is no need for that. That means, even if you copy the program folder to a USB and transfer the files to another computer, the VLC media player will play these files.

The Babylon Effect—Not!

Over thirty languages are supported and you can choose between them while using VLC. However, you have to restart the program before these changes take effect.
It also supports various subtitle formats, which any video connoisseur can hardly live without if they want to enjoy the vast archive of international movies available in the market nowadays. The same can also be said for VLC media player’s support for multilingual audio tracks commonly found in DVDs.

Filters and Plug-ins

Its vast array of video filters offers users options for enhancing their viewing experience. These enable users to fix syncing problems as well.

Video Streaming

VLC media player can also transcode files for you. The newest feature gives the users capability to stream media from the Internet or from a network with VLC as a streaming server. However, a little network administration experience would be in order if you’re planning to stream from a DVD server. Sadly, VLC doesn’t support burning streamed files into DVDs.

Bottom Line
Beneath its underrated skin, VLC media player has a debonair personality and a bunch of amazing features. Judging by the support its getting from the novice to advanced videophile community, VLC media player’s prowess does not rely on a bandwagon psyche. The features packed in this lightweight software truly prove itself worthy of its acclaim.

And if that does not convince you, how does the word free sound?