After VLC became the sensation that it is today, many competitors popped up. They took the foundation of VLC – easy to use, multiple format support etc – and added their own spin to it. Some added much needed features, some added too many features while some decided to improve upon the UI.
It’s great to have choices and competition is always better. But I think for most people, VLC is the best media player out there. And this includes both casual users who just want to play a video file and enthusiasts who need perfectly synced subtitles and support for the most obscure media format (hello .webm, didn’t see you there).
Let’s Talk about the Alternatives
1. GOM Player
GOM Player can be called the anti-VLC. It looks starkly different, displays ads, and from a technical standpoint, is not very easy to use. Just like every other video player that’s worth a damn, it also supports every major media format and codec out there.
Who is GOM Player for? For people who for some reason or the other are sick of VLC or think that it may be a bit too simple.
PotPlayer personifies everything that’s good about GOM Player. It’ll remember where you left off in a video, there are tons of keyboard shortcuts, it’s fast and light on the resources.
But the UI is just a mess. And it’s ugly. PotPlayer is one of those applications that’s too complicated for its own good. You’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time getting to know the app. Unlike VLC it’s not something you can just pick up and start using.
If you just can’t live with VLC, SMPlayer is the one you should go for. It’s free, open source and has tons of awesome features like native YouTube support, searching and downloading subtitles (which you can enable in VLC via extensions). It’s not just the features, SMPlayer has solid codec support as well.
4. Windows Media Player
No, just no.
5. MPlayerX for Mac
MPlayerX for Mac is the biggest competitor to VLC. It’s the app I used for a couple of weeks that one time on my Mac before coming back to VLC. MPlayerX looks great on the Mac, it can automatically build up playlists for the next episode of the TV show you’re watching and the keyboard shortcut support is a lot better than VLC’s.
So Then Why VLC?
As I’ve said, I’m not going to pretend that alternatives to VLC (even more powerful ones) don’t exist. But beauty of VLC is that it can be as simple as you want it to be or as complicated as you want to make it.
A middle aged office worker who knows almost nothing about computers can pick up VLC and start enjoying movies. He doesn’t have to customize the video playback, the aspect ratio or the subtitles.
But in the hands of a proper geek, VLC can turn into a powerful tool. And powerful tool it is.