By Chaz Baruela
Student, University of Hawai’i at Hilo
The first time I bought a laptop I used the default media player program, which is Windows Media Player. Unfortunately, there are some file types that do not work unless you download extra codecs for them. I didn’t want to download extra codecs, so I asked my friends what media player they use. That is when VLC media player was introduced to me. I have been using this program for the past five years, and in my opinion it is one of the best media players around.
First, the program is 100 percent free plus the download and install is quick and easy. When you install VLC, you don’t need to download extra codecs. Almost all video and music files such as mp4, mkv, avi, mp3, and ogg are playable as soon as VLC is installed. One classmate, Kai, commented on my post and said that he uses VLC media player to play flash video and matroska video files (Gilding). Another, Leleiohoku, said that she only found one movie that they couldn’t play (Stafford). My point is that VLC plays almost everything.
When you start up the media player, one of the first things you will notice is the interface. Reviews about how simple and attractive it looks are mixed. However, I think it is simple and has the basic functions covered such as a loop and a playlist. What you might not know is that there are some other “hidden” buttons that allow you to record, take a snapshot from a video, and a frame by frame button. I don’t see much use for frame by frame because all it does is stop the video and play it forward one frame at a time.
VLC media player offers some other features that you may not know of. Did you know that you can actually download videos from YouTube through VLC? It isn’t the best video downloader, but having this as an option is a pretty cool added feature. Another cool function allows you to convert videos to different formats. This is pretty useful for me since I prefer to have mp4 files as my main format.
While these are cool features, I mainly use VLC to play videos. I usually watch anime or movies that have subtitles. One of the cool things about VLC is that you can customize your options to watch movies in a different language with subtitles automatically selected. I prefer to watch my movies or anime in Japanese. When I first started to use VLC, I would always change the options through the menu. When you keep doing that for all of your videos, it can get very irritating. By using these options, my experience with VLC has been much more enjoyable.
For lazy people (like me), there are shortcuts for almost everything that you will need to use (Russel). I find that these shortcuts are very easy to use. One key is all you need to press for the basic functions. Since I watch movies that have subtitles, there are sometimes issues with the audio or the subtitle timing. With the shortcuts, all you have to press is g or h for the subtitle timing and j or k for the audio timing. The more useful shortcuts enable you to skip forward or rewind the video. Both of these functions involve the left and right arrow keys. By pressing shift, alt, or control plus the left or right button, the video will move forward or backward by 1 second, 10 seconds, or 1 minute. By far this has been the most useful shortcuts available in VLC.
Finally, there are the DVD capabilities of VLC media player. What I have found is that VLC media player is able to play almost all DVDs regardless of the region codes. VLC media player allows you to change the settings of the brightness, picture size, cropping, and rotation. Being able to brighten movies with bad lighting is a big plus in my opinion. Sadly, VLC can’t play blu-ray discs yet (Muchmore). I hope that they will soon allow the use of blu-ray, though, which could potentially increase VLC’s popularity with users.
All in all, I would say that if you want an app that can play almost any media file, then choose VLC media player. It’s free and can be used on Macs, PCs and Linux computers.
Gilding, Kai. “Re: VLC Media Player.” Online posting. 11 September 2013. Laulima Discussion. 16 September 2013.
Muchmore, Michael. “VLC Media Player 1.05.” PCMAG.com. 9 February 2010. Web. 16 September 2013.
Russel, Bob. “VLC Media Player.” Download.com.CNet, 29 August 2012. Web. 16 September 2013.
Stafford, Leleiohoku. “Re: VLC Media Player.” Online posting. 8 September 2013. Laulima Discussion. 16 September 2013.
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