Which Media Player Sucks Least?

Currently involved in a mondo thread regarding the question of whether QuickTime sucks or not, which by necessity also asks whether Real Media and/or Windows Media suck, and if so, how much? As with operating systems, I think all of them have strengths and weakness, but there are no secrets about my leanings: I think QuickTime is more flexible, has better (or at least equal) quality per bitrate, has a cleaner UI, is less big-brother-ish, and is less invasive (is less brash about stealing associations). QuickTime is also, unfortunately, the only one that nags the user till they cough up $30 — something I’m more than willing to do, though I know many/most people are not.

Not everyone shares my opinion. Thought I’d take a straw poll here on birdhouse, where the air is slightly less rarified than on the mailing list. What do you think? If all audio/video media on the web had to be in a single format, which should it be?

Which media player/platform gives the best overall user experience?

View Results

Gorgeous example of QuickTime in action.

Music: Janis Joplin :: To Love Somebody

59 Replies to “Which Media Player Sucks Least?”

  1. I am a recent Apple convert (I have only had a mac for 11 months), but I have *always* found quicktime to be better than the alternatives. The nag-ware can be annoying, however… I pretty much registered QT on my Mac right away since I was doing “that kind of stuff” with it right away, but I know that I still get nagged on my WinXP box… But as far as I can remember, I only get nagged once a session or so, no?

    I absolutely loathe the Windows Media Player’s interface, and it seems that the design team for WMP know this and actively try to make the UI annoy me more with each release. To me, the simplicity of QT is what I want in a media player. Simple transport controls, perhaps a volume control (which I never use but doesn’t irritate me), and that’s about it. WMP uses multiple windows, has all kinds of extra shit (organizes media, catalogs net radio, flushes my toilet) that just seem to bog down my usage. On top of that, it seems like the “simple skin” in WMP gets harder and harder to find and activate with each release. When it comes to WMP files, I just use VLC ( http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ ) on both platforms.

    I am pretty indifferent to Real, mostly because I don’t see many people using it anymore. The last version of their player I used, RealOne, seemed to have caught a bit of the bloat that WMP suffers from, but to a much smaller degree. I hate the ads that Real uses much more than the nag of QT.

  2. As *players* go, I use Windows and have the same objections as Sean to Windows Media Player and Real, so I use Winamp 2. The latest version plays video with DirectShow, so it plays DivX, OGM, etc—anything for which you install the codecs.

    I tried VLC once for its subtitling support, and it generally wasn’t to my liking. Its interface was too Linuxy, and I couldn’t get the subtitles to work. Either it was an incompatible format or I couldn’t set it up right—but they showed fine in Winamp with the DirectShow subtitle filter installed.

    I still have Real installed for listening to Real streams, but I don’t remember when I used it last.

  3. The thing QuickTime does the best is also the least exposed (to most users) and hence the most under-appreciated.

    QuickTime is a complete media architecture, you can embed almost any form of media into a QuickTime file (you may or may not need to write custom code).

    For example I worked on a 3D component for QuickTime that we used to deliver a custom looking application (the QuickTime player with a custom skin) using a flash based interface with totally interactive and non-linear 3D content ‘inside’.

    We certainly could have added video too – but that wasn’t the point.

    QuickTime is way more than just a video player.

    Andrew 8-)

  4. man, is this even a question? I guess if you don’t have QT Pro it could possibly be. But the Pro is a damn useful piece of software in itself. Not only can you save media off the web, but you can do basic editing too… Still trying to wrap my mind around someone claiming Real could possibly be better.

  5. Intermediate user here, running a 650Mhz compaq, but keeping it running well with the pci slots full.:))
    I reverted back to an older version of WMP 6.4.07xxx and it works great. I run all my media though it and never find any anger..;).

  6. However, my cable modem gets bunged up at times… sorry about the multi posts…. They kind of invalidate my point I know..sorry.

  7. The real problem is QuickTime’s functionality, inside and out. The Player is an unreliable piece of crap, locking up on a regular basis. Version after version, it still stinks. Anyone who is particular about maintaining his computer is loathe to install this hack.

    And talk to any programmer who has to write for QuickTime: He despises it. QuickTime and its documentation are a mess. 5000 pages of crap, and two thirds of it are obsolete. QuickTime returns nonexistent error codes. It is incapable of telling you what kind of images you’re really dealing with in the file, which makes it totally unsuitable for professional high-end video.

    You can’t argue with the facts. In the year 2003, QuickTime still doesn’t support more than two audio channels. That’s pathetic.

    Let’s face it people: QuickTime is a gimmick that has been patched together and turned into a bloated, gangrenous abomination. It needs a total rewrite that it will never receive. It barely holds together. It is not a format to be taken seriously.

  8. David, QT isn’t perfect, but your post is almost all FUD. What is “unreliable” about QT? Locking up? Huhhh??? I meet a lot more people who refuse to install Real than who don’t have QT installed.

    QT is in fact the choice of professionals – wherever the highest quality per compression is needed, wherever the most interactivity or advanced features are needed, etc, people turn to QuickTime.

    > You can’t argue with the facts. In the year 2003, QuickTime still doesn’t support more than two audio channels. That’s pathetic.

    Do Real or WMV support 3D interactivity? SMIL? Hotspots? Or a dozen other unique QT features?

    QT is not a gimmick – it’s the standard to which Real and WMV are still trying to reach.

  9. Granted, I run a 5-year old Compaq Presario laptop, but QuickTime is a general pain in the rear for Windows users. It doesn’t ship with Windows, it just recently adopted the concept of standalone downloads (something Microsoft has allowed for years), it runs slower than molasses, and it has that annoying window that pops up whenever you start it. The QuickTime-iTunes package does not support playlists for video files, as Winamp and Windows Media Player do. Also, what’s with that annoying qttask.exe TSR?

    RealPlayer is the most useless media player I know. It doesn’t ship with ANY operating systems (unless you count Palm OS) and nags the living crap out of you when you use it. Come to think of it, Real has their own terror of TSRs.

    Granted, WMV may not be the codec of choice for media professionals, but since most of the world can play it on their computers out-of-the-box, it’s an easier choice to live with. I understand that many people hate installing third-party apps. Less people have to do that if you’re running WMV!

  10. It’s not even a fair comparison

    Two of these players are designed for one specific format, and arguably the third one. All are heavily commercial. All are ambasitors of some uni-corporation porfit driven technology, therefore the question can’t be answered in as simple terms as “which one suck the least” They all suck in their own unique way.

  11. Every time Windows Media Player received an “upgrade”, it would play fewer of my video clips. After a couple of years of this I was only able to play about 25% of my collection, so I found an installed VLC media player. It plays everything I own, so I don’t plan to use Media Player again.
    As for the others – I can’t offer a good assessment, because I haven’t used them for several years.

  12. David Gurney’s comments are certainly interesting, particularly since QuickTime was years in the making, and Windows Media Player and its predecessor was hastily hacked together as a reaction to QuickTime. Perhaps Mr. Gurney should review the transcripts of the Microsoft Antitrust trial. The unreliability of QuickTime Player he experienced may have been real, but it was not caused by QuickTime being “a gimmick that has been patched together and turned into a bloated, gangrenous abomination” but rather by Microsoft’s continued fiddling with Windows code to make QuickTime run poorly. More than just sabotaging it’s own customer’s computers, Microsoft tried to hide its efforts by releasing different versions of Windows with not just the same version number, but with the same build number, to make Apple’s efforts to work around the intentional Windows code roadblocks more difficult. No telling how many users experienced system crashes, and no telling how many programmers (including MS Programmers) were impeded in their efforts at tracking down and correcting problems because different operating systems were intentionally mislabeled as being identical systems to hide Microsoft’s efforts to make another’s program look bad. Mr. Gurney is obviously angry, but he needs to direct his anger against Microsoft, since it altered it’s software for the intentional purpose of giving Mr. Gurney and others a bad experience with QuickTime.

    As for Mr. Gurney’s remark that QuickTime is “totally unsuitable for professional high-end video?, it is obvious that Mr. Gurney just made this up in his anger. The proof of QuickTime’s solid foundation is the vast number of Hollywood movies and network and local television edited on programs that use QuickTime to do their heavy lifting. QuickTime was, and is, a revolutionary piece of software that has changed the way things are done, and expanded what can be done.

  13. > And talk to any programmer who has to write for QuickTime: He despises it.

    I’m a programmer, I use QT, I love it, and I have *never* had a pleasant experience with *any* other media player.

    >Granted, WMV may not be the codec of choice for media professionals,
    >but since most of the world can play it on their computers out-of-the-box,
    >it’s an easier choice to live with.

    Hardly an excuse. Windows doesn’t come with QT pre installed any more than the MacOS comes with WMP. This “out-of-the-box” theory practically suggests that no software that doesn’t already come with the computer is worthwhile, especially if an alternative is already there. Seriously, how much software that your computer came with have you already replaced with something better? Besides, one should never have to “live with” poor software.

    > I understand that many people hate installing third-party apps.

    Not only is QT is a proffessional piece of software, hardly to be considered “third-party”, but again this statement suggests that it’s not worthwhile to install software that you don’t already have.

    All in all, I think Bill Smith has made the most important comments yet. Look, for anyone who has done a *propper* and *un-biased* (key word there, un-biased) analysis of Microsoft, their software, and their business practices in particular, it is clear that this is hardly a company and software that you can trust or rely on. It is clear that their one goal is market domination for maximum profit. It is clear that their software is built for this purpose. It is clear that Microsoft is actually working **AGAINST** the computer industry.

    If you’re not convinced, consider this:
    It takes 5 million lines of code to write Linux.
    The MacOS contains 2.5 million.
    Windows is currently 40-60 million lines of code in length, and growing (there are those who suggest 80 million).

    Any programmer knows that efficiency is elemental, so the fact that the ballpark is 4 times the side of Linux should raise some alarms.

    I’m not trying to start a platform war here, I’m only pointing out that, for Microsoft, developing quality software is bad for business. To do so would simply cost too much money, so they slap together a shoddy product and cram it down people’s throat (forcing roadblocks to degrad QT’s performance is a prime example). Their success is based on market strategy alone.

    WMP is no stranger to this strategy.

    Proffessionals and users alike who are *aware-of-the-facts* will tell you not to use WMP. It’s just a tool for domination.

    You are the pawn.

  14. Quicktime sucks. Every time you activate it, it shows a quick launch button that you have no option for deactivating. What a lame pest. Real Player is a bloody mess with its impractical layout and dry appearance. Windows Media Player is a pain in the arse to get to play with certain codecs. But for basic use, WMP is the best. It’s the most organized yet the least pestering — at least version 8, which I use, is. Version 10 was a load of junk, with its lengthier load times and stalling issues that leave a man/woman banging their head against the keyboard in frustration. But to this day I stick with Winamp PRO 5. It can play videos in this version and has a sleek appearance. It can also burn lossless FLAC format audio without any problems. WinAMP > all. Turn it up to 11!

  15. i am professional audio engineer and electronic music producer. i find winamp has the best clearest sound quality. in fact it is very close to the “true sound”.

    you may download acid from sony and compare the differences :-)

    cheers

  16. I really don’t like windows media player because it’s a chore and a half to set up playlists and it’s just not user friendly in general. I have to re-sort my playlists every time I run WMP.

    Real Media is like a plague of locusts that swarm your computer like a field of corn.

    I liked Winamp, but it was a severe memory hog and caused a ton of problems with other programs.

    Haven’t tried quicktime yet – I’m using WMP now until I figure out which one I want to use for good.

  17. All I know is that most media based web sites do not support Mac or QuickTime, such as, CMT, MTV, VH1, Yahoo, MSN, on and on and on.

    All I get all day long are messages telling me that Macintosh and Apple are not supported. So much for all my superior computing power because I own a Mac.

    Therefore, Mac users, and especially OS X Tiger owners cannot access any video or music on most of the internet because Mac OS X will not play WMP which is the media player embedded in almost every web site that has anything to do with popular music and music videos.

    I have wasted hours trying to “fix” or work around my media problem and I am afraid the solution is that I must get a PC and run Windows. OMG!!!! I just love this continuing saga of “operating system” wars. Thank you Steve J. and Bill G. for all these hours of enjoyment!!!

  18. I liked the old windows media player. Simple interface. You could pause and un-pause with a click anywhere in the display window. you could choose your zoom level. It just did its freaking job!! Well I have been hanging on forever and let it upgrade so I could heare xm radio and the version 9 sucks balls!!!!!! upgrade my codecs and leave the interface alone, OR allow me to choose the old school style. Quicktime sucks too. I ended up uninstalling and sending them hate mail because that install tries to take over every freaking thing on your computer. I’m surprised it doesn’t install MacOS!! God I hate this, how do I go back to my old win media player.

  19. The QuickTime codecs are good, but not the application itself. In fact, QT for Windows blows ass. It’s slow, constantly nags you to buy the Pro version, and doesn’t feel at all like a native Windows app.

    But then again, neither does WMP! It gets fatter, slower and more invasive with every release. All this, and it still won’t play half the media I want to watch.

    Video on computers just sucks.

  20. Note that QuickTime 7 no longer throws up nag screens to reg for the Pro version. Instead it swaps out menu items missing from the unregistered version with “Pro Version Only” – so you can both see what you’re missing but also avoid necessity for nag screens.

  21. QT is best choise esspecialy on MAC – works great and nice, lots of components, nice, useful features

    but on PC my choise is opensorced Media Player Classic – 100% simlicity and 100% functionality. MPC plays everything *.mov, avi, ogg .. all! plus have very useful functions like zoom or strech movies (if badly encoded divx)

    standart WMP sucks, realplayer sucks too

  22. Strangely enough, I came across this thread while wandering around looking for VLC media player skins. Sicne I’m an opinionated kind of person…

    I pretty much refuse to vote in the poll because I’m not very fond of any of the above. Granted, the pole was originally posted in Oct of 03, at a time when I was damn near homeless, and certainly not concerned with what media player I would use if I laid hands on a computer… Still, right now, I gotta say that I don’t like any of these choises.

    It’s a toss up for which is the worst – WMP or Real, either way. WMP is the most massive case of bloatware I have ever seen. There is no excuse for a media player taking thirty seconds to start up on a AMD 2.2 64 system with 1 gig of ram.

    Real is adware. Unless you’re willing to pay for it, then it magically transforms into spyware (did I mention that WMP is essentially spyware, too?). Ahh, well. Windows users are used to spyware anyway, right? I mean, the whole damn OS spies on you, so… Oh, yeah – back on the subject. Real lags somewhat, and it’s not exactly a great codec. In fact, I’d say .wmv is preferable, and I’m just not a .wmv fan.

    Quick time is definately the best of the three. The quality is magnificent, but the player interface feels alien to anyone who is not a Mac user. It doesn’t run especially well on Windows (which, despite being Microsoft’s fault, is still something Windows users have to deal with), and I get annoyed with having to close out nag screens.

    Now, VLC media player… That rocks. I can do just about anything I want with it, it’s easy to use, stable, and open source. Foobar2000 is better for music (much better sound quality), but VLC is, as an overall media machine, as good as it gets. The interface for both is admittedly a little linuxy, but, then, so am I. ;-)

  23. Wow, I just felt a need to comment here. WMP is just too sad. You have to install a thousand plug-ins to get it to do something, the GUI annoying me to the point of deletion. As a matter of fact, I just got this:
    http://www.wm4mac.com/wmv.htm
    and never had to worry about WMP again. QT takes 0.5 seconds to start up AND play the movie, WMP takes 10, and an extra 2 to load the movie. And WMP usually runs somewhere around 15 FPS. Realplayer has way too many ads, but at least it’s pretty fast.

  24. Don’t get me started on RealOne Player. That thing drives me insane. The video quality is ok, but the functionality of the player does not exist. For heavens sake it doesn’t even rewind or fast forward. I move the slider to jog the video and it just doesn’t update. I’m lucky that it even plays from the start. This is a problem in Windows Media Player as well. It doesn’t jog video, it will update at some point in time. At least 30 seconds from where I started playing.

    RealOne player just now has stopped playing any audio from any clips, because it has conflicted with an external USB audio device. I mean COME ON! This is supposed to be a media player, Audio is a form of media. It should SPECIALISE in using external audio devices. I have yet to try Windows Media Player with this device.

    The next thing is interface design. Both programs totally break all ground rules on interface. It spits on the Apple Human Interface Guidelines which are readily available on the developer connection website http://developer.apple.com/

    Compared to Quicktime. Quicktime SH*Ts on the other two players. Hell I found a plugin for quicktime that allows it to play Windows Media files… and guess what? IT PLAYS IT BETTER. Quicktime also has far more functionality that the other two players, and actually can jog. However if you have a video that its over and hour or two you need to be a on a G5 and have Quicktime 7. Something that ticked me off for a long while.

    Of course, there are nicks with quicktime. Such as the normal and PRO versions of the player, and the nag every week or so. Apple should just make the standard quicktime, the pro version. I mean, people who haven’t bought the pro version can’t even get full screen. Thats a cop out.

    Quicktime obviously works better on a mac, than on windows or other platforms. In OS X Quicktime is integrated and a *part* of the system. Its just as important as Cocoa and Carbon. I think the system can’t run without Quicktime. So whether you use VLC, or MPlayer or any alternatives. You’re system will still use Quicktime. Some may call that a restriction, but how can it be? It works doesn’t it?

    I’m not sure about Windows Media Player working with windows, but real player – just simply sucks balls on any platform. I usually don’t like to compliment M$ software as most of it is crap. But compared to real player it is beautiful. Microsoft software being beautiful? Thats amazing.

    Quicktime doesn’t play it all however, there are a few formats that it can’t play and can’t export. So thats where VLC comes in, VLC would be my second choice in media players. I’ll also remind you that Quicktime can do basic editing. Don’t see that in any other player ey? Of course you have to have the PRO version, which is a stupid thing of Apple to do.

    So every player has its good and bad parts… WRONG! Real media has no good parts, only bad. Windows media has no good parts only bad. And Quicktime has good AND bad parts. Which is the better player?

    Come on diehards, bring it on.

  25. What kind of question is this. all 3 suck major in some way.

    Real player/realone: SUCS ASS, Fullstop nothing more to say

    WMP: if it actualy played any of my videos i would be happy but it doesnt even when it downloads codecs it cn’t find them or it breaks

    Quicktime: since this is a MEDIA player question not a ‘which is better for video’ question i say this sucks because it plays videos realy well and use it occasionaly, never ever use this for musci i still can’t figure if its possible to create a bloody playlist or not yet

    OTHERS:

    you seem to think there are only 3 media players well lets see

    divX player: find it very good for video not much else

    iTunes/iTunes for windws: i love this but it is only good for music and radio (lots of radio :) but it does it well easy to create playlists and find the media you want

    Winamp: good for music okay for video if you are an average home user this is more than adequate

    Mplayer: not had much experiance with this but all sources say IT SUCKS

    and there are various others that i just have not crosed yet.

    as for profesionals making movies and stuff i have yet to meet one that CHOOSES quicktime rather than has it forced onto them by the company

  26. OMFG, I hate windows media. I have a macintosh desktop and Macintosh laptio. I also have a IBM. Every time I go on my ibm I get that gay start up “please upgrade” type of thing. Everyone with a PC instead of using Internet Explorer use firefox. On limewire use Quicktime as your default player. And every one use itunes, their are no exeptions. I ganrety if you do those things you wont run into a virus. Thats just one of the many ways to bypass virus’s. Or you could just use a mac. Other media players that are good include VLC, and MPlayer

  27. Real Media is horrible! It takes forever to start, sounds terrible, and is hard to use even for experienced users! It even has it’s own format that suck! I wish windows media player or winamp could play real files then I would never have to download this ad filled garbage.

  28. All three are bloatware. After using each one of them for years, I gave up and am finally using VLC Player.

  29. QT is the better of the 3 besides the nagware, but WMP is faster and RealPlayer just sucks. I personaly use Xine on linux.

  30. Well Out of those three players I gotta say all of them are pretty much bottom of the barrel. WMP, happens to glitch more times than not and when it does work its choppy because the ammount of ram it demands is sacraficed to it.

    Real Player, is prolly the worst out of the three, It can play multiple forms of Media but the majority of movies that are not in Real formate are lucky to even get a single frame. The Audio aspect is pretty rough as it will buffer a file saved on your system for an hour before its willing to tell you weather or not the file can be played. Usualy it cant.

    Quick time happens to have similar problems as the other two, However the main problem with Quick time is how well it doesn’t work. Quicktime files seem to be the only files it likes. And the ammount of BS it installs along with it is horrendous.

    The Best Media players I have found over the years have been in this order, The Short lived Yahoo Media player, played anything, but needed access to Yahoos server to activate the installation, Ultra Player, PLayed anything and everything, then VLC Media player functions better than ultra player due to memory useage and simplicity, but like Ultra Player and Yahoo Player it plays anything and quality is damned good. I have tried the majority of players out there on the web and VLC is by far the best in my experience, And shy of that is Ultra Player.

  31. And the ammount of BS it installs along with it is horrendous.

    I’m curious what you mean by that — what does QT install along with it besides itself? I’m not aware of the QT player installing anything but QT.

  32. What if I don’t like any of your choices?

    Personally, I think that WinAMP is the best player going for video.

    WinAMP version 5 is my favorite. It just plays things without complaint, yet does not suffer from the bloat of the three players you described.

  33. Xalph – I think your point is that the choices I gave in the poll were for media formats rather than media players. There’s some gray area because the three main media formats all have popular players associated with them, but all of the players can also play other formats. And there are independent players not associated with any particular format. So you make a good point, though I’m reluctant to change the poll terminology at this point.

  34. sir,
    with due respect i beg to know more about quicktime. i installed the quicktime 7.0.4 pro in my win xp pro sp2 pc. but i am astonished to find that the player only plays mp3,mp4,mov but it dont plays the others formats.besides all i have plenty of cds,vcds & dvds but they cannot be played in QT.is there any way to enable those features in quicktime and turn it into a complete digital multimedia solution..
    i like the player because with the mov file it gives tremendious sounf quality and very good frame rate but mov is not supported by dvd players so i cannot turn my huge collections of vcds & dvds into mov.but with the vob file it is a pleasure to view in quicktime.
    because i am not a frequent visitor of this forum please inform your advice opinion to carquest_1989@yahoomail.com
    waiting for ur reply.
    thanking you all
    Ramen Mukherjee

  35. Okay, all of them suck really. However, if you’ve got the right codecs installed, WMP is alright. Just alright. VLC is probably the keenest player out there if you don’t want to screw around with finding and installing codecs yourself. If your a MAC kind of person, sorry, I’m PC. However, does everything, and has a few odd quirks that are relatively un-noticeable. Now here’s the bomb:

    Media player is absolute shit!!!!!!! or rather sheeeeiiiiite (Irish) compared to (I still prefer VLC or WMP for video files) Winamp for audio. You suck MP. God I’m having fun.

    Sorry for the naughty language, but it must be said!!!!!!

    Listen on or view on dudes!

  36. If you’ve ever tried to create animations or videos and play them on the web, in multimedia presentations, or create videos, you’ll find that Windows Media and Real are useless. Windows Media can’t do anything larger or differently shaped than 320×240 or 640×480. Pathetic. Everyone seems to be judging these players by merely novice applications like watching someone else’s media. It’s like someone who only rents VHS cassettes from Blockbuster commenting on a professional format like the High-Definition P2 Flash memory cards.

  37. No doubt, Quicktime is a steaming pile. Thank god for QuickTime Alternative and Real Alternative! I’ll NEVER install QuickTime or RealPlayer on another computer! People who release anything in these formats are n00bs. Why would you release something that 99% of PC users can’t use without installing 3rd party crap-ware before running?

    Windows Media PLayer isn’t great. It’s choppy and buggy with some formats…but it comes pre-installed, doesn’t bug you to upgrade to Crap-ware PRO and doesn’t run ads before you can watch the video.

    Let me reiterate: QuickTime and RealPlayer are two of the biggest piles of crap available for your computer. Just remember, releasing in these formats means LESS people will watch your video or listen to your music. Maybe the Linux dorks will tune in….

  38. Which media player sucks least ?
    The list below goes from worst to best in my humble opinion.

    Windows Media Player sucks for playing both video and audio media files because it is unnecessarily ugly skinned by default and not very user-friendly, in addition it suffers from a lack of options and on top of that it does not originally support all video formats like the .mov encapsulation format a lot of videos on the web use, it will neither accept .srt subtitles files. The use of Windows Media Player for audio files is also a big pain in the ass because it does not support global hotkeys, it requires too much system memory (latest WinAMP only uses the half of what WMP needs) and it does not even support .pls playlist files widely used by broadcast radios…
    Conclusion: let the many use this low-end unfinished and quality-decreasing non-cross-platform media player, leet people will use something much better like WinAMP, mplayer or VLC.

    RealOnePlayer is a pain to install, you have to register after install completes which is always really annoying and smells like a commercial product while is it being said free. It is also quite ugly skinned. At first launch you can listen and read “You have the power to play anything” My foot ! You cannot play .mov files without having QuickTime installed and the .mkv encapsulation file format is not even supported…
    It is not good for audio use either because there are no global shortcuts.
    Conclusion: uncool.

    QuickTime is a very limited video player, you cannot even play videos fullscreen in the free version, it only supports a very few formats by default like .mov .mp3 and .mp4. It can export file to another format but it is also very limited for that.
    Conclusion: not to install.

    iTunes is fine. Available on Windows and Mac OS. Some people only use it because they accidentally own an iPod :-) In fact iTunes is pleasant to use, I just regret the lack of global shortcuts…
    Conclusion: cool

    WinAMP is just THE best audio player. It plays every audio and playlist file and is fine to edit music tags. It has lots of options and has customizable global hotkeys. It hase fine visualisations and lots of skins available online. It can also play most of the video formats but is not convenient for that use.
    I only regret it is not cross-platform (but it would not be called WinAMP :-)
    Conclusion: must have.

    mplayer is good because it plays everything, it is cross-platform, open source and simple. But you will sometimes have to use it with a command prompt (very leet though :-) You can encode videos with mencoder which is great too but also to use in a command prompt.
    You will find optimized builds for Windows here: http://ffdshow.faireal.net/mirror/mplayer/
    Conclusion: must have even if you do not often use it, it will sometimes help you.

    VLC is perhaps THE best video player for most uses because it supports all video file formats, it works perfectly for network broadcast (do not forget VLC is VideoLAN Client and was designed for that purpose). It is also free, open source, cross-platform, easy to install (it is the case on Windows and Mac OS, on unix/linux it’s very different) and use, not skinned by default but skinnable. I personally keep the installer on my USB pen drive to install it everywhere I go because it is a really nice piece of software.
    Conclusion: MUST HAVE.

    Just a last thing before finishing for those who did not know, Ogg Media Files [.ogm] and Matroska Videos Files[.mkv] are both encapsulations formats, supposed to be better than avi.

  39. Well, at least we all agree that RealPlayer is terrible in every way.

    While Windows Media Player is massively bloated and may have some privacy issues, at least it works most of the time.

    Quicktime, though, is another matter. Lately, I have been having some rather frustrating problems with Quicktime. I made the mistake of updating it, so it did its best to reset all sorts of file associations to it, including formats that it is unable to play, or at least not without several dozen plug-ins it wants me to download.

    The other main problem is that I seem to be unable to return the associations to other programs.

    It also lacks some basic features, or rather, the free version does.

    I’m going to attempt to uninstall it, and switch to one of the alternatives.

    To hell with Quicktime.

  40. great discussion thread, but i’m actually at the moment a little more interested in the video you link to. i really enjoy it, and had no idea such a business lived in somerville. how’d you come by the video? i went to elsa.photo.net (from the url you give), but don’t see any hint of this hidden gem…. who did the documentary and for what?

  41. I found this entry while googling “Real Player is a pain in my ass.” And it really is, I hope Real Player eventually gets phased out. Ordered from most amount of suck to least amount of suck my list would be: Real Player, Windows Media Player, DivX, Winamp, and VLC.

  42. QT sucks… what’s with no full screen? Thats complete bullshit. I like WMP and VLC. WMP’s UI is much better than VLCs, but VLC will play many video files that WMP won’t. I wish that VLC would support global hotkeys as does WMP so I can use my play/stop/ff/rw keys on my laptop to play a video even when the program is out of focus.

  43. shacker : No, QuickTime has the full screen function activated only once the program is registred, and that’s a shame !

    brenton : Windows Media Player doesn’t really support global hotkeys, in fact it’s rather multimedia keys a lot of people don’t have on their keyboard. I also wish VLC had the support for real global hotkeys just like WinAMP does, I mean customisable global shortcuts like Ctrl-Alt-Home for play/pause or Ctrl-Alt-PgUp/PgDn for previous/next file…

  44. WMPC – CLASSIC ftw~
    lowest mem. usage
    fastest load time
    support for every format
    just install cccp =b

    winning choice, unless you need a playlist
    in that case.. gg~ lol

  45. I can’t stand Window’s Media Player these days. Sure I like the audio rippin ability and the playlist ability and functionality is great.

    But it takes almost 30,000 K of memory, and if I am trying to run Photoshop and MPlayer at the same time, the audio freezes when I do any dragging operation in PS, and PS takes forever to do any filter or saving operation with it on. It is also just too… large. I’d like something more compact but not Quicktime, with its stupid qttask, and vlc media tries to take over your media experience, etc etc.

  46. In the past, I have liked QT over other embedded video players. It tends to load faster, and worked well under Firefox. However WMP10 has came along, and is getting closer to equal in embedding in the browser.

    as for outside of the browser, I use Media Player Classic. Without question, it plays everything

    I cannot comment on real, as I haven’t used it since around 2000-02

  47. ..itunes. wmp 11. jetaudio7. media jukebox. mediamonkey. the list goes on. and on. and on. poorly designed or buh-loat-ware baby! so one returns to w.m classic.

    not ideal. but then what choice does one have amongst so many media players that seem to share one thing in common. the desire to sell.

  48. Pro usage aside, I’ve never had a smoother streaming media user experience than when I watch full-screen QT movie trailers. Can Real or WM do that? Does it look DVD quality? Can you easily pause or back up the video? I’ve been doing this since I got my first broadband connection at home in 2000. How come WM or Real videos always look like crap by comparison?

  49. Quicktime is useless, I hate the thing. It always tries to associate all media file types with itself even when I specifically select options telling it not to. Video and even audio files will open in a browser embedded player rather than the stand-alone player no matter what options I choose. It’s always nagging me to upgrade to the Pro version which just has features you’d expect as standard on any other media player. For instance, you can’t even view video full-screen without upgrading to Pro! How lame is that! I just uninstalled the thing in the end because I only ever used it to watch .mov files which are few and far between these days. I’ve never had a problem with Windows Media Player, it does pretty much everything that I want and all for free, none of this ‘upgrade to Pro’ version nonsense you get with Apple. I also much prefer the interface, it’s much more simple and intuitive. According to the poll results it looks like most people agree. I took some xvid rips of Lost around to my sister the other day and she watched them on her brand new Apple Mac using Quicktime and she was so annoyed that they wouldn’t play full-screen whereas full-screen is a standard option on Windows Media Player. I just said “well, that’s Apple for you, all style no substance!”.

  50. Actually Tom, you can watch any QT movie (and any format that the QT player will support) in fullscreen mode using iTunes without upgrading to QT Pro. If your sister has a newer mac, she can also watch any QT movies using Frontrow in fullscreen mode and that’s an even cleaner interface. I agree that it’s lame that the free version of QT won’t play fullscreen video, but there are free alternatives for playing QT movies that are readily available or built in (if you have a mac). Sounds like your complaints are “all FUD and no substance!”

  51. Hi all,

    I am Bill Gates and I would like to say that my company, Microsoft makes a lot of money out of you idiots!

    Personally at home, I use a linux box and VLC. Not one of these piece of crap Windows boxes. They’re horrible. I should know, I invented them!

  52. All I know is VLC is the worst. Can’t play a bupkis file if it’s life depended on ot. Lot’s of pixelation buring playback. Windows and Cyberlink play it fine.

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