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Switched Download: VLC Media Player

Download of the Week: VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player

What it does: The VLC Media Player does just what its name implies, and so much more. In addition to playing back video and audio, VLC can even be used to rip DVDs or stream video over a home network to watch on another computer in the house, or across the Internet.

What we like about it: First and foremost this free and open source media player is incredibly lightweight, which means it's fast. VLC is perfect for playing back any unprotected video file or taking a quick listen to a song when firing up iTunes and searching through your library is too much trouble.

VLC also makes quick work of the maze of media formats out there. OGG, MP3, WAV, MP4, AAC, DivX, AVI, WMV, MOV, even Flash Video (FLV) like those used on YouTube -- VLC will play them all. No need to open Quick Time for MOV files, Windows Media for WMVs, and iTunes for AAC.

If you do feel like tinkering ,VLC has more optiona than you could possibly imagine, some of which are easily leveraged for legally questionable ends. For example you can easily save streaming media from the Web by pasting the URL into VLC and checking off the Stream/Save option.

What we don't like: VLC won't work with any DRM-protected files. So many songs purchased through iTunes or movies downloaded from Amazon's Unbox store won't be playable. VLC can also be a bit confusing for those used to the pretty and uncluttered options available to users of iTunes and Windows Media Player. We strongly recommend spending a few minutes wandering around the menus and options to get acquainted with the app before jumping in. Also, it won't handle Real Media (.rm) media files, the type you'll find on some online radio stations, and, of course Real.com.

Bottom line: VLC could use a little spit and polish, but is still an essential tool for anyone who watches a lot of video on their computer or listens to audio in a multitude of formats. This one stop shop for media playback is quicker and more versatile than the market leaders such as iTunes, Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. MusicMatch. That said, you'll still need one of those market leader programs if you have any purchased content from iTunes, mobile music stores, or any of the music services such as Napster or Rhapdsody. The point of VLC is to play everything else without slowing down your computer.

Download VLC Media Player

Tags: media player, MediaPlayer, switcheddownload, vlc

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