Originally Posted by Onegai:
So you get a new movie or album etc. (Legally of course!) and you can’t play it on your pc, even if it’s a recognised file type. The problem is most likely your codecs. Simply put, codecs are sort of like a dictionary that helps your pc understand the language that the information in that media file is written in (It’s actually far more complicated but that’ll do). By default Windows only has support for the bare basics in media types. What you need to do is download and install some codecs. I can recommend Combined Community Codec Pack (Download CCCP: http://www.cccp-project.net). The latest version supports just about everything. It’s very easy to install too.
If this doesn’t help, there are a ton of other codec packs available, just Google “codecs” and you’ll get a near infinite number of results though I’m pretty sure CCCP will cover everything. Now on that note; you may have come across a format called *.rmvb. CCCP doesn’t support this format but don’t panic. There’s a simple-to-install and quick-to-download plugin for Media Player Classic (The latest version of MPC comes with CCCP). I personally wouldn’t recommend the rmvb format anyway, it’s really low quality – looks worse than a VCD.
Okay, because this article’s so damn short, I’ll give you a nice little break-down of my media players guide.
I suggest Media Player Classic instead of Windows Media Player to play your video since Classic uses way less CPU time and is much easier to use and more versatile once you get the hang of it. It also supports a variety of launch parameters – useful for batch files etc.
There’s another player out there I quite like too. It’s called GOM Player. It’s better at keeping audio/video synchronisation with CPU intensive media (i.e. HD movies) and apparently – though I see no difference – “it has superior full screen picture”. Of course, my favourite feature is that if you open a video file; GOM automatically finds all other video files in that folder and adds them to its playlist. This comes in handy if you’re watching a series.
When playing audio files, I’ve come to like Winamp although I actually didn’t at first. Windows Media Player is admittedly more sparing on CPU power than Winamp when it comes to audio and on older machines it loads quicker than Winamp too. However, once you master Winamp, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to use than Windows Media Player. Also, there are loads of skins available for Winamp and it’s even fairly easy to make your own. If you intend on ripping (Ahem, I mean backing up) audio CDs however, Windows Media Player is the more practical tool though.
Now some people use Nero or PowerDVD to play DVDs on their pc… Not recommended. Nero, despite its myriad of functions and pretty buttons, is slow, sluggish and eats into your CPU time like a rat in a cheese shop. As for PowerDVD, it’s not bad but it lacks the ease of use that MPC has. Also, don’t bother with VLC Player or Zoom player – they’re nothing special and not really as easy to use as MPC.