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Choosing The Best Media Player For Your Computer

by Tom Volotta on March 12, 2012

Best Media Player for your computerChoosing the ‘best’ of anything can be a difficult task. Choosing the best media player for your computer is among those because, well, there are so many great choices. There are even a lot of great free media players.

Along with there being many different software options to sort through, there are many more features and capabilities to consider before identifying the best media player for your computer. We’ll try to pare down the list of considerations to help make that selection process simpler.

OPERATING SYSTEM

Whether you’re running Windows, Mac OS X or even Linux, there’s a player for you. The assumption here is that you are not satisfied with the built-in media player that came with your system. Many third-party providers either offer cross-platform, or custom-OS versions of their products. There still are a good many players that are Windows-only, so that narrows the field for other users. Intel Macs can operate in either OS X or Windows mode and there are some vendors that offer more advanced features only on their Windows products.

Looking for a robust media player? The free version of RealPlayer plays and converts most file formats and does a whole lot more.

MEDIA PLAYER FORMATS

What container formats and codecs do you need to play? Windows Media Player and Apple’s QuickTime are both excellent media players, but do not completely cover the wide range of available formats such as FLV, AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV and others. Often, the built-in media player won’t serve all your needs or has limited features, like Windows Media Player. Upgrade your feature set and format compatibility easily by using an independent media player. Check to see if the media player is also able to accept additional codecs to help extend its capability. Also make sure the player can handle any special audio formats you may want.

CONVERTING FORMATS

All the best media players have this ability, although be sure to check what formats are native to the video player, and what formats they can be converted to. The typical use here is to convert video from your computer to a format that can then be ported to your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Also, the best media players can easily convert video to MP3 audio.

DOWNLOADING VIDEO ONLINE MEDIA

With both commercial and free content readily available on the Internet, being able to download video directly to your video library with a single click is a welcome feature. This feature is available in the best free media players, so be sure to look for it.

VIDEO PLAYLISTS AND LIBRARIES

Keeping track of your video collection through a library, having playlists and the ability to easily move files around should be one of the most important features.

USER INTERFACE

This is a big part of why you select a particular media player. Most players share many of the same functions, but it’s how they are presented and the general workflow that separates them. Items to check are the overall look and feel, how intuitive the functions are to access and use; whether it can be customized with skins or docking to suit the way you like to work. Do windows appear and disappear for no apparent reason? Can the interface be minimized? Is there a mini player or taskbar version?

MEDIA PLAYER SETTINGS

All media players have different layers of preferences so you can customize how the user experience by adjusting video and audio playback quality, settings for hot keys, automatic window resizing, Internet connection parameters, enabling on screen displays, and so on. These can be confusing at first, so start with the factory defaults and adjust various settings, as you get more familiar with the player.

EXTRA FEATURES IN THE BEST MEDIA PLAYERS

Since the majority of the best media players all do a great job at playing video and audio, usually have a decent media management system, can convert formats and easily download video from sites like YouTube, it’s often those extra features that make or break a media player being the right one for you.

A few things to look for:

  • Does the player enable easy linking with social network sites and sharing?
  • Can it burn CDs and DVDs, and is it able to burn in high definition?
  • Will it display subtitles and handle other metadata, which may be embedded?
  • Does is allow screenshots, including being able to capture DVD snapshots?

There are a large number of free media players for computers available from a wide range of vendors. Several, especially for Linux, are open source. But not all the free media players offer some of the advanced, extra features you may need. So check on the differences between free and paid software. Typically, the up-charge for the extra-feature, paid version is modest, from $10 to $40.

If you have any problem choosing the best media player for yourself, just let me know. I’ll be happy to answer any questions. Just leave a comment below.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 don April 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I tried to download and install realplayer from realplayer website but it fail to install because windows indicated that realnetwork.installer encounter problem. so what problem? whjy can’t the realplayer be installed in my computer?

2 Tom Volotta April 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Check to see if you have some previously installed versions of RealPlayer. If so, UNinstall them, do a system restart and download a fresh version. Do a virus scan of your computer just to be sure. What version of widows are you using, and if you’re possibly using Firefox 10, get rid of it and upgrade to version 11.

3 Michael Rowlands April 28, 2012 at 4:13 am

I’ve used previous versions of realplayer and been delighted. That was many moons ago. I recently downloaded and installed the free version and am delighted with the plethora of features. But…. I’m running Windows XP Pro, svc pack 3, with 1gb ram and 50 gb free disk space.

The down load takes forever to load, slowed my system to a crawl, and takes ten minutes to load and play a video. The other players on my system play the videos captured by RP as quickly and readily as before.
Any Suggestions?

4 Tom Volotta April 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Well, that’s annoying. You are right on the edge when it comes to RAM though. Minimum requirement is for the 1GB you’re running. Windows XP Pro sucks up a lot of that on its own. That shouldn’t necessarily bog your system down the the crawl you’re describing though. It is odd that other players handle the RP captured video fine though.

My quick guess is that there may be some remnant of the older version of RealPlayer that is interfering with the new version. First thing I’d do is make sure I did a full UNinstall of both the Old and New versions. Do a re-start, then download the new RP again, and see if that helps. Also, run a virus scan to see if somethings if stealing cycles from your machine. If not you should contact Tech Support for more informed assistance.

BTW: RAM is cheap. Are you able to upgrade yourself? If so, it’s the easier way to improve performance. I know that’s not an answer, but it’s something I’d do regardless

http://i.realone.com/product/help/RealPlayer-15/en/RealPlayer-help_Left.htm#CSHID=Welcome_to_RealPlayer.htm%7CStartTopic=Content%2FWelcome_to_RealPlayer.htm%7CSkinName=SilverSkin

5 Tom Volotta May 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Back to the download for a second.

Is the problem download speed or player function? You say it takes forever to download, but then say other players play to RP fine. Is it download or RP player speed you’re having problems with?

What the speed of your Internet connection? Is time of day an issue? Are neighbors bogging down everything?

Just some thoughts.

6 Lilianan May 7, 2012 at 3:18 am

nice share…
mybe i will back again to read more…
i was choose the best media player…

7 Tom Volotta May 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks.

Sure, come back and check the various topics. Lots here.

8 gmanz June 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm

i had some issues that started with the download of mozilla foxfire browser, well 1 thing kept leading to another, iv been searching for answers online almost non-stop for almost 2 days, i missed this page somehow yesterday, but i found it today. i will buy you not 1 beer but 2, you have answered alot of questions with this. i was just looking for answers as to why real player stoped working and i cant even get it to reinstall. im good now and my next quest was to find out about media players. you have explkained it to where i can understand 98%, the 2 % will come easy now. thanks. again
ps ill be back. if you want to how the problems i had came about ill tell you just ask. ( the last 2 days has almost put me aat the end o my wits end over something that seemed as easy as just uninstalling a program)
thanks again. you just dont know how much.

9 Tom Volotta June 11, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Hey, that’s great. Glad to be of help, and that things worked out for you.

I’ll have to check with tech support about how to download the beer. ;)

…TV

10 Johnny Doan June 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Please tell me how to delete the bad songs ( no image or no audio ) and replace new one. I can’t fix with this option, I need one manual book with full detail instruction. Thank you.

11 Tom Volotta June 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

There are a few simple ways to delete Music, Videos, Pictures, Downloads & Recordings and Playlists from RealPlayer. While in the Library, select Music, Video or other category. I like to view the contents in Thumbnail mode, but Detail view also works.
1. Click on the video to select it. Click on the RealPlayer name and triangle in the upper left. Move the cursor to Edit and click Delete in the drop-down menu.
or
2. Do a Right Click on the thumbnail, and click on Delete in that drop-down menu.
or
3. Just hover the cursor over the thumbnail, then click on the More button that pops up, click Delete.
For good measure, empty the Recycle or Trash bin.

Then, import or download the file(s) from the original source, and see if they work. Be sure the formats for the media are supported by RealPlayer. If not, you may need to download a codec pack to properly play the audio and/or video.

As for detailed instructions, RealPlayer Help would be your first stop. If that doesn’t serve your needs, go to the RealPlayer Customer Support page. If the Knowledge Base there still doesn’t do it, there is a Contact Us link where you can either telephone or do a Live Chat with someone who will help. I’ve used Live Chat and found it a very convenient way to get my questions answered.

…TV

12 real cheap youtube views July 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Woah this blog is excellent i really like studying your posts. Stay up the good paintings! You realize, many people are searching around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

13 Tom Volotta July 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks. Plenty of other interesting topics covered throughout the blog too.

…TV

14 Judy alliso January 2, 2013 at 1:40 am

I would like to download some videos and audios from the spirituality and practice site. I have Apple every thing phone mac and pad. I hate that i cant get real time player thought maybe there might
Be a fix available. I have skyfire but curious how to put it together if that is option

Thanks judy

15 Tom Volotta January 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Judy,

You have two different issues. First, if you have a Mac, RealPlayer for Macintosh is available, and will enable you to download content from the site you mentioned, and others. You can then transfer that audio and video to your iPhone and iPad.

As for Skyfire — that is a web browser for iOS and Android mobile devices. There is a version of RealPlayer for Android, but not yet for Apple iOS products.

…TV

16 Cathy March 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

I am looking for a media player that I can download website videos with mulitple formats (not just youtube). Something along the lines of what Realplayer offers with the downloader pop-up that appears in the corner of the screen when you watch a video and gives you the option to download the video. I had this on my Microsoft PC, but now I have a Linus with Ubuntu version 12.10. And of course I can’t download RealPlayer now. Is there something I can install with similar features that is not complicated as I’m not a computer whiz?
Thank for your help if you can.
Cathy

17 Anonymous May 24, 2013 at 10:26 am

thanks

18 Auntie Rose September 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’ve been using Real Player for a long time. Really love it. So I bought Real Player Plus. But it won’t install and freezes my computer. Have to just shut down the computer to clear it off the screen. What can I do?

19 RealPlayer Team September 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Performing a clean uninstall and reinstall can help you resolve many issues, try uninstalling and reinstalling RealPlayer by following this link:

https://realnetworks.zendesk.com/entries/23994572

Note: Make sure you delete the RealPlayer folders as mention on the link before reinstalling RealPlayer.

After installing RealPlayer follow the steps to enable the RealPlayer Plugin in your web browser,

https://realnetworks.zendesk.com/entries/23689856

If this doesn’t work, please send an email to help@real.com, include a brief description of the issue, copy and paste the link to this thread within the email for further assistance.

20 Roland March 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Hi,
I am using this media player: http://www.cyperlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/features_en_US.html
How does this one compare to the Real player?
Thanks, Roland

21 RealPlayer Team March 24, 2014 at 7:14 pm

RealPlayer Cloud is the newest version of RealPlayer, available for customers who have an operating system of Windows 7 or higher. RealPlayer Cloud includes all the functions of RealPlayer 16, as well as allowing you to upload and share videos, play them across your various devices, and watch them on your TV using Chromecast or Roku.

If you purchased RealPlayer Plus 16, when you update to RealPlayer Cloud, you still get all the premium features of RealPlayer, including burning DVDs, accelerated video downloads, cleaning your music library, printing playlists, and more.

Use of the Cloud storage and sharing features is completely optional. We think it’s a cool–and private–way to share your favorite videos with friends and family, but there is no requirement to upload your videos to the Cloud if you don’t want to.

If you need further assistance, please send an email to help@real.com

22 Tom Volotta November 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thanks for the mention on SociableBlog, and the links to us. Many other interesting topics covered throughout the RealPlayer blog. Enjoy.

…TV

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