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The Best Media Player Alternatives

In the ever-evolving world of multimedia, a reliable media player is a fundamental tool for seamless playback of various audio and video formats. While Windows Media Player and VLC Player have long been regarded as a go-to choice, it's always beneficial to explore alternative options that may offer unique features, enhanced performance, or a refreshed user experience. 

Reasons to Consider Alternatives to VLC/Media Player:


1. Inability to Play Broken Files: While VLC media player is generally adept at playing unfinished or damaged videos, there are instances where it fails to do so, incorrectly indicating that the file is damaged. This issue typically occurs when the file is still in the process of being downloaded.
2. Limited Support for Certain Codecs and File Types: VLC supports an extensive range of video and audio codecs and formats, but may require specific codec settings for a few formats. Configuring these settings can be challenging for many users.
3. Unexpected Crashes: One of the drawbacks of VLC media player is its tendency to crash without warning. This can happen when playing regular files, inserting subtitles, or transitioning to full-screen mode, disrupting the viewing experience.

The Best Alternatives

1. PotPlayer

Media Players, PotPlayer
Image source: PotPlayer 

Compatibility: Windows

PotPlayer could easily have claimed the throne of free media players if VLC hadn't established such a dominant brand identity. While VLC and PotPlayer share many similarities as comprehensive, user-friendly media players, PotPlayer surpasses VLC when it comes to handling larger files and cutting-edge video formats without encountering issues.

PotPlayer excels at providing customization options, allowing users to fine-tune settings according to their preferences. In fact, it offers a plethora of advanced features, including scene previews, bookmarks, and clip recording, that outshine even VLC's offerings. Moreover, PotPlayer's resource efficiency stands out as an added advantage over VLC, ensuring a smoother playback experience while utilizing fewer system resources.

Download: Daum PotPlayer 

2. Media Player Classic

Media Players, Media Player Classic
Image source: Media Player Classic
Compatibility: Windows
Originally introduced in 2003, Media Player Classic emerged as the preferred alternative to Windows Media Player during the Windows XP era. Although its development was halted in 2006, the project splintered into two distinct branches: Home Cinema (MPC-HC) and Black Edition (MPC-BE).
For everyday users, Home Cinema proves to be an optimal choice, prioritizing lightweight performance while accommodating the latest video formats and standards. On the other hand, the Black Edition takes the spotlight as a feature-rich juggernaut, providing a multitude of enhancements and improvements.
Media Player Classic stands out for its swift performance, minimal resource consumption, and compact installation size—a true embodiment of lightweight design. It effortlessly handles most formats and supports advanced functionalities such as subtitle downloads, video capture, and Skype integration.
As the prominent open-source alternative to VLC, Media Player Classic appeals to those disenchanted by VLC's recent bloat or PotPlayer's closed-source development. With its availability as a free Windows 10 media player, Media Player Classic remains a viable option, despite MPC-HC being discontinued in July 2017.

3. KM Player

Media Players, KM Player
Image source: KM Player
Compatibility: Windows, iOS
For those seeking an aesthetically pleasing and highly customizable media player app, KM Player fits the bill. While it may not possess the same level of power as VLC, it adeptly handles basic functions.
Similar to the other leading free media players available for Windows and iOS, KMPlayer boasts a wide array of supported video formats, ensuring seamless playback at resolutions like 4K and 8K. Its user interface is user-friendly and reminiscent of VLC, allowing convenient drag-and-drop functionality and easy control using keyboard shortcuts or arrow keys.
Notably, KMPlayer excels in 3D playback, offering a wealth of options for playback and frame color combinations. Additionally, it offers two distinct VR modes, catering to users with headsets and further enhancing their viewing experience.
Download: KM Player

4. 5KPlayer

Media Players, 5KPlayer
Image source: 5KPlayer
Compatibility: Windows, Mac
5KPlayer is a robust media player that comes packed with features and is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 11, and Mac operating systems. This comprehensive player supports a wide spectrum of video formats, including high-resolution options like 360-degree and 8K videos. One of the most notable features of 5KPlayer is its ability to seamlessly stream videos using AirPlay and DLNA, ensuring minimal quality loss. Moreover, the player facilitates convenient streaming directly from YouTube, simplifying online video management on the fly.
With its user-friendly interface, 5KPlayer allows effortless navigation, even providing options to rotate videos 90 degrees in either direction. Although in-app advertisements are common among free media players, they do not interfere with the viewing experience, though they may occasionally appear when accessing specific settings.
Overall, 5KPlayer serves as an excellent choice for both Windows and Mac users seeking a feature-rich media player with solid ad-supported functionality.
Download: 5KPlayer

5. ACG Player

Media Players, ACG Player
Image source: ACG Player
Compatibility: Windows
ACG Player stands out with its simple interface and touch-based controls, making navigation effortless. With a simple tap on the top half, you can initiate Play/Pause, while tapping the bottom half conveniently toggles the controls. For quick rewind and fast-forward, a left-right swipe suffices, and adjusting the volume is as easy as an up-down swipe. Although primarily designed for Windows 10 tablets, alternative keyboard shortcuts are also available.
The player offers advanced features, including customizable gestures, multi-window mode, efficient playlist management, seamless online stream playback, and customizable subtitle appearances and animations. 
While ACG Player does have in-app ads, they are non-intrusive and appear when you pause a video. Their presence doesn't disrupt your video-watching experience in any way. Additionally, you have the option to remove the ads through an in-app purchase.
Download: ACG Player

6. GOM Media Player

Media Players, GOM Media Player
Image source: GOM 
Compatibility: Windows, Mac
GOM Player, known for its popularity on Windows, also offers a Mac version. On Mac, GOM Player boasts extensive compatibility with a wide array of video and audio formats, including FLV, MKV, MP4, AVI, WMV, MOV, and more. 
Similar to VLC, GOM Player is both free and open source, and it even supports 360-degree video playback, immersing you in a virtual reality experience. Moreover, its auto-rotate feature proves highly convenient for frequent video consumption on mobile devices. With GOM Player, users can personalize their viewing experience through customizable options such as skin themes and playlist view settings. With built-in subtitle support, the player enables users to effortlessly download subtitles without having to navigate to external sources.
Additionally, Mac users can effortlessly import and export playlists, ensuring seamless accessibility across multiple devices. 

7. MPV

Media Players, MPV
Image source: MPV
Compatibility: Windows, Mac
MPV is a solid alternative to VLC, offering a free, open-source media player available for both Windows and Mac platforms. With a clean and simple interface, MPV primarily focuses on delivering a seamless video playback experience. Its minimalistic controls, located at the bottom, are easily navigated through mouse movements, making it particularly convenient for touchscreen devices.
A further advantage of MPV is that it boasts a wide range of features and allows users to fully customize key bindings, so they can assign any desired action to specific keys or combinations of keys. While MPV generally operates efficiently and places less strain on system resources, certain tasks like managing subtitles or streaming content to Chromecast devices can be slightly cumbersome. Nevertheless, exploring MPV as an alternative media player is certainly worth the effort.
Download: MPV

8. DivX

Media Players, DivX
Image source: DivX
Compatibility: Windows, Mac
Offering a viable alternative to VLC, DivX is a versatile media player with video conversion capability. This player excels at playing videos across diverse formats, while also providing features such as subtitle support, audio track selection, and video disc-burning options.
Moreover, DivX goes beyond the basics by incorporating H.264 video decoding for seamless playback of high-definition content up to 1080p, including HD and Blu-ray videos. Furthermore, password protection is available for downloaded or self-created videos, ensuring privacy and security.
While the core player is available for free, DivX also offers a premium Pro version that unlocks an array of additional features, offering users an even more comprehensive media experience.
Download: DivX
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