Before getting into details and the differences between Microsoft Windows Media Player (WMP) 12 and RealPlayer one thing is clear they both deliver high-quality audio and video. Deciding which media player is right for you depends on what you want it to do. One media player offers a bit more customization of controls and a store, while the other player has more media-centric features. Here are some considerations to help you determine which media player is best for you.
|RealPlayer Compared to Windows Media Player|
|RealPlayer||Windows Media Player|
|Supported File Types||m4a, mp3, wma, ra, rv, rm, ram, mvb, wav, flv, 3gp, 3gp2, mp4, m4v, wmv, iv4, avi, MPEG-4, QCELP, EVRC||AVCHD, m2ts, mts, avi, avs, divx, ivf ,mp4, m4v, mov, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, wav, wma, wmv, xvid, mp3, 3gp,3gp2, aac|
|Device Management||Android, Blackberry, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Other portable Device, Import Photos from device, Import Videos, Import Music, Copy music, video, and photos to devices, Sync music playlists||Automatic or Manual SYNC (transfer) to devices. No specific list of manufacturer or brands provided by MS. Automatic Sync checks built-in list. Can auto-search or add devices manually. Similar to adding drivers for a printer. Import photos from device, Copy music, video, and photos to devices, Sync music playlists|
|Content Acquisition||One Click Video Download, Audio CD ripping||Audio CD ripping, Windows Media Guide (store)|
|Content Management||Full media library, Automatic album art retrieval, Create and manage playlists, Trim videos (head/tail), Save still picture from videos, Convert audio and video for playback on over 100 major devices||Full media library, Automatic album art retrieval, Create and manage playlists. Save still picture from videos. SYNC converts audio and video for many devices.|
|Disc Burning||Audio CD, Video CD||Audio CD, Data CD, Data DVD|
|Social Media||Share links to downloaded videos on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Email||No dedicated access to social media sites|
• USER INTERFACE
Although choosing a user interface can be subjective, this is not just about how the program looks. It’s also about workflow, layout of the controls, menus, windows, and how other tools come together. The Library in both programs are similar and provide access to Playlists, Music, Video, and Pictures.
The aesthetic of RealPlayer’s dark gray and blues allow the buttons to pop visually and offers easy paths to other features. When in the Library, the video that is Now Playing plays at full motion in the bottom right corner.
WMP has a conservative look that in some ways mimics the light gray monotone look of iTunes. When a video is Now Playing In WMP the audio continues to play while in the Library. When a video is playing the controls disappear within a few seconds unless the cursor is moved into the frame. WMP also offers a number of alternative ‘Skins’ to customize the look of the player’s controller – a fun feature.
• FILE FORMATS
When it comes to media players finding one that plays the file formats you use most is essential. WMP has increased their collection, but it still doesn’t support Flash (FLV). Windows Media Player relies on users finding and downloading codec packs to fill in the gaps for many common formats that may not be included. While RealPlayer can play Flash video and other file formats.
• CONVERTING FILE FORMATS AND TRANSFERRING TO DEVICES
RealPlayer has a built-in, dedicated Converter application with a large selection of devices and computer formats. The software can also be used to transfer media to mobile devices.
Similarly, WMP has a feature called “Sync” that can be used to transfer files in the Library to mobile devices. This is tuned to transferring files to mobile devices. It automatically identifies the device and selects the best format. For more customization, there are some specifications that can be set manually.
• DOWNLOADING VIDEO
Acquiring content from online sources is routine. RealPlayer does it with a single click as you’re browsing sites like Vimeo, Metacafe, YouTube, and others. When a video is available for download, the “Download This Video” button appears in the upper right corner of the video frame. Click it, and the download starts, placing the video in your RealPlayer Library. Once the video is in the RealPlayer Library you can share it via popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
• WINDOWS MEDIA GUIDE AND STORE
Microsoft WMP is a point of entry for digital content. The Media Guide provides access to a variety of music, movies, television shows, and other content. When playing music, a “Shop” button appears under the album thumbnail. This opens a store window. There are only a few titles available as of this writing, and you cannot preview any of the offerings. There are also four “Online Stores” that can be accessed through the “Media Guide” button in the lower left corner of the screen. Here, music, video, and books are available. RealPlayer doesn’t offer a way to purchase digital media content or provide access to an online media store.
• HOW REALPLAYER COMPARES TO WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER 12
These comparisons have their subjective perspectives. RealPlayer is more direct in the way the user interfaces work together, using the features are intuitive, and overall it offers more functionality. While WMP offers more customization and the access to online media stores.
The casual Microsoft user will find WMP adequate for simple collection and playback of various media. For those who want to do more with media, RealPlayer is a better choice. Both media players are free. Windows Media Player 12 is included in Windows 7 and 8. RealPlayer can be downloaded for frree by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of this page.
What do you think? Work and/or play with both? Let us know which offers the better experience for you.