Category Archives: High Definition Video Players

Download Miro – An HD Open Source Internet TV Platform And So Much More

imageThere continues to be much discussion in Tech media circles, on the benefits of  getting rid of expensive Cable TV where prices seem to be skyrocketing (I just got another $2 a month bump this week), and focusing instead on the multiple alternatives which the Internet now supports.

Given that your computer screen is, in reality, a high-definition display, you can easily enjoy Internet sourced videos in HD full screen. Pretty neat – especially if you have a wide screen LCD display.

Miro (last updated August 16, 2011), is a free (open source), Internet TV platform and Video Player (and so much more), that can certainly even out your path in breaking your reliance on Cable TV – and, the costs that go with it. Miro, in fact, might well be the perfect tool to help with your transition.

In my view, Miro is one of the most underappreciated open source applications available on the Internet. It never fails to amaze me how less deserving “media players”, which are often hyped to the max, can generate more downloads than this superb application.

Not only can Miro play virtually any video in HD, including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID, but on top of that this application, which sports major changes from previous editions, is effectively a media management center.  I must admit, I was more than a little surprised at how effective Miro is in this role.

For example, the application quickly, smoothly, and effectively, located my music files after prompting me to select a search path. Playback controls are typical and playlists are easily created.

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The core of the program however, is the well designed video features including built-in Torrent download capabilities.

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In the following example I downloaded a 1.4 GB movie using the Torrent client. The test torrent download  took full advantage of my Internet settings – 1.7 MB per second.

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Playback of the downloaded file was a bit of a treat really. Definitely HD; smooth; quality sound.

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Additional features include the ability to sync media to multiple devices –  including Android phones and tablets. Better yet, Miro will even convert video files to the right format to play on your phone.

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Getting the application just right to meet your specific needs, using the Settings menu is straightforward and uncomplicated.

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Fast facts:

Works with your current music library – It’s very easy to switch from iTunes to Miro– without any copying. Just point Miro to your music and video folders and those files will appear. If you don’t like Miro (impossible!), nothing’s changed.

Converts and syncs to Android – You’d have to be crazy to use a music player that doesn’t sync to your phone. Miro is simply the best music and video player for Android phones and tablets.

Download and play almost any video – Do you still use separate programs to download, play music, play videos, and sync to your phone? Miro plays almost any video or music format and downloads from YouTube, podcasts, Amazon, and bittorrent.

Convert any video – You can convert almost any video with Miro into mp4/h264, with presets for almost any device you can think of (including iPhones, iPods, iPads, Android phones, and more).

Share Your Media on your Network – When two Miro’s are on the same Wi-Fi network, they can stream and transfer music and videos to each other. It’s the easiest way to watch a video or play music upstairs if the file is downstairs.

Ultra-fast torrent downloading – Miro has some of the fastest bittorrent downloading in the world, built in. Try us head-to-head with any bittorrent application!

Open-source – don’t lock yourself in – Unlike some other media players, Miro is not trying to run your life. Not only is Miro 100% free and open-source, it’s made by a non-profit organization. You don’t need to be locked down by one corporation to have a great media experience.

Buy Music and Apps inside Miro – The Amazon MP3 store is built-in to Miro. Buy, download, and listen, seamlessly. Buy Android apps from the Amazon or Google app stores and they will sync to your device.

There are many more features in Miro that can be quickly covered in a short review. I haven’t, for example, covered the easy way to stream and share music and video on your local/home network, using Miro. Checkout the publisher’s features page.

This program continues to receive high praise from video geeks, and it’s worth considering as an addition to your entertainment applications.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP, Mac, Linux. (I have not tested this application in 64 bit – but, I understand 64 bit support is available).

Download at: Miro

User Manual for Miro 4.0 (last updated June 30, 2011), available here.

A caveat: During the install process, pay particular attention so that you don’t install items you may not want (Yahoo Toolbar/homepage) .

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Internet TV, Linux, Mac OS X, Media Players, Multimedia Tools, Open Source, Software, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

Boxee – The Open Source Software, Not The Box

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I don’t watch much TV. No, that’s not some kind of elitist remark – you know, the type of comment thrown about by some who consider themselves a step above the rest. From my perspective, television actually sucks.

I’m tired of the fact that the History Channel rarely runs anything that’s remotely concerned with history. I’m tired of the fact that the Learning Channel long ago stopped pretending “learning” had anything to do with its mandate. And, that’s the short list.

Not only is television a vast wasteland, it’s become a toxic dump where morons like Charlie Sheen, and other emotionally unwell idiot actors (I’m trying to be kind here), set the standards for what supposedly passes for real life. It’s definitely not where my head is at.

Thankfully, the Internet with it’s virtually unlimited selection of educational, informational, and entertainment packages to choose from, helps to fill the “wasteland” gap admirably.

Generally, I find myself watching Internet entertainment on my wide screen LCD display, which is in reality, a high-definition display. Sitting at my desk however, is not quite as comfortable as I’d like – so for months, I’ve been on the hunt for a free application which will seamlessly connect Internet output to my television. Gotta sit in that easy chair – don’t ya know.

I think I’ve finally found it in Boxee. Boxee is an open source social-media application (Windows, Linux and Mac compatible), which allows users to stream content from both the Internet, and their personal home media, to a TV – from a simple package.

Step One:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Two:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Step Three:

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Graphic courtesy of Boxee.

Firing up the application:

On first launch, you will have to set up an account and sign in. Here’s why, according to the developer –

Boxee is meant to be social – not just with friends online, but also with people in your house. With this in mind we designed Boxee with multiple user accounts so that your social network, favorite TV shows and apps remain personalized and accessible only to you.

OK, that sounds sensible.

All of the following screen captures can be expanded to their original size by clicking.

The interface could do with a “facelift” – if you’ll pardon the expression. Nevertheless, it’s relatively functional, straight forward, and simple to use.

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Changing the settings is fairly simple, and the user can easily customize the application to meet specific needs.

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Adding apps to the application couldn’t be easier, and it expands the range of possibilities dramatically. The apps (for my purposes), are a lifesaver.

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In the following illustration, I’ve clicked on the installed CNET app.

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The video output from CNET (screen shot from my Monitor), really is 1080 HD. Crystal clear.

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The CineTrailer app (installed for this test), is illustrated below.

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Screen capture (in 1080 HD), from the Green Lantern trailer. Impressive.

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Shakira video running through the YouTube app. Love Shakira!

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Since I missed the national news last night, I added the CBC News app in order to catch up.

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Screen shot from the news showing the turmoil of the Vancouver riot.

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A very handy File Browser is part of the package.

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System requirements: Windows, Mac, Linux

Download at: Boxee

So that you can get the best out of this free software, I recommend that you checkout the Boxee Software User Guide.

Perhaps the most important Boxee software question – are there monthly fees to use Boxee?

Boxee does not charge you any monthly fees, but some premium applications accessible through Boxee require a fee.

I’ve been using Boxee for only a few days (I haven’t run an HDMI cable yet – maybe this weekend), and I’m sure I have much more to discover – but, to this point I’m liking what I’m seeing.

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Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet Radio, Internet TV, Linux, Mac, Multimedia Tools, Software, Streaming Media Applications, Video Apps, Windows Tips and Tools

Watch Videos and Internet TV in HD Full Screen with Miro HD Video Player

There’s been lots of talk in the Blogosphere lately, on getting rid of expensive Cable TV, where prices seem to be skyrocketing, and focusing instead on the multiple alternatives which the Internet now provides.

From a personal perspective, I’m a long way from getting rid of Cable TV. But that’s more an issue surrounding the medieval government broadcast regulations consumers are forced to deal with here in Canada, which allow Geo-blocking technologies that prevent Canadians from accessing television programming on U.S. websites, than any commitment I have to the boob tube, which I rarely watch.

I suspect in many other countries, consumers would be taking to the streets demanding access to the increasing number of broadcast options available online. The Canadian government needs to get its head around a concept called, “freedom of choice”. OK, I’ll stop ranting now!

For those of you who don’t face this restriction, Miro (last updated December 05, 2009), is a free (open source), internet TV platform and video player that can play virtually any video including, QuickTime, WMV, MPEG, AVI, and XVID. After iTunes, Miro is the second most popular video RSS player in the world.

The real strength of this application lies in the ability you now have, with Miro installed, to subscribe to any video RSS feed, pod cast, or Video Site/Blog such as YouTube, Google Video, and Yahoo Video, through channels.

When a channel is created in Miro, the program checks for updates periodically and will retrieve content for you through a HTTP download, or the included BitTorrent client.

You could, for example, subscribe to Comodo’s Internet video series, Really Simple Security, published on a dedicated YouTube channel, and with Miro’s automatic update function always be in the loop for new content.

Given that your computer screen is, in reality, a high-definition display, you can watch these videos in HD full screen. Pretty neat – especially if you have a wide screen LCD display.

To make it easier for you to find content for viewing, the included channel guide service is comprised of more than 1,800+ channels which are searchable by category, keyword, popularity, or language.

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Fast facts:

Built-in Channel Guide – explore hundreds of free Internet television channels.

Bit torrent download

Manageable Hard Drive folders

Resume playback

Channel surfing

Organizing video feeds by topic

Video sharing and hosting

Creating videos

This program continues to receive high praise from video geeks, and it’s worth adding to your entertainment applications.

Note: There is a learning curve associated with using Miro, but the developers video tutorial, takes the hassle out of it.

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System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Me, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, Windows NT, Windows XP (I’m not aware of any x64 support) – Mac, Linux.

Download at: Miro

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Interconnectivity, Internet TV, Media Player Replacement, Multimedia Tools, Software, Video, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Stretch Your Software Dollars – 26 Free Applications For Hard Economic Times

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Times are tough, the economy is in the tank, and if anything, times will get much tougher long before they get better.

We are all now faced with the task of trimming expenses this year, and software applications that cost hundreds of dollars are not going to be number one on our list of must haves.

Luckily, they don’t need to be.

There’s a wealth of tried and tested free software out in the wild blue of the Internet that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have this year. Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get needed work done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

To download the application/s of your choice, simply click on the application name.

Process those words:

OpenOffice:

OpenOffice 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

IrfanView is a very fast, small, compact and innovative graphic viewer for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista. Unusual name – terrific application.

Google Picasa:

A free software application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects to your photos with a few simple clicks and share your photos with others through email, prints and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Watch your favorite videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application for channels of internet video (also known as ‘video podcasts and video rss). Miro is designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience.

VLC:

A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Free FLV Converter:

This free software let you search YouTube and dailyMotion videos without opening your browser and you can even watch the videos using the built-in video player.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Better browsing:

FireFox:

FireFox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

Opera introduces Speed Dial which vastly improves navigation to your favorite sites. In addition, there’s Fraud protection, anti-phishing detection keeps browsing safe and secure.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on (my personal favorite), that has established an impressive 4.5/5.0 star user rating on CNET. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Protect your system:

Spyware Doctor Starter Edition:

This free version of the award winning program, with its easy to use interface, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers; it’s reported there are a million+ additional downloads every week.

AVG Anti-Virus:

AVG Anti-Virus Free now incorporates protection against spyware through a new combined anti-virus and anti-spyware engine as well as a “safe-searching component” which has been incorporated into the new AVG Internet Security Toolbar. This program scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule and scans email incoming and outgoing. For those on Vista, you’re in luck, it’s Vista-ready

Comodo Firewall Pro:

The definitive free firewall, Comodo Firewall protects your system by defeating hackers and restricting unauthorized programs from accessing the Internet. I have been using this application for 10 months and I continue to feel very secure. It resists being forcibly terminated and it works as well, or better, than any firewall I’ve paid for. This is one I highly recommend. Amazing that it’s free!

Staying in touch:

Windows Live messenger:

The next generation MSN Messenger. It comes with everything that were already available in Messenger, and a new i’m Initiative that makes helping your favorite charity as easy as sending an instant message.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpaceIM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, skinnable chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

System Tools:

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 8 months has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Audio Software, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Don't Get Hacked, Firefox, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Graphic Software, High Definition Video Players, Image Editors, MS Word Alternatives, Photo Tools, Software, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free GOM Media Player – 5 Star Rated – 5.1 Channel Output

Kick Windows Media Player to the curb! Replace it and get 5.1 Channel Output, advanced playback capabilities and more, with GOM Media Player.

I’ve never really warmed up to Windows Media Player. It’s bloated size,and outrageous overhead requirements (in my view), have always left me feeling just a little bit put out.

GOM Media Player, (the unusual name stands for Gretech Online Movie Player), has been the media player I’ve relied on for years now, and it just gets better with every release.

GOM Media Player’s support for a diverse range of file formats, it’s built in Codecs, and its advanced playback capabilities, have made it one of the most downloaded of all Windows Media Player replacements. It is the number one downloaded media player on CNET, with nearly 15,000,000 downloads to date.

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GOM Media Player is a relatively small (5.77 MB) application that can play most encoded video formats including AVI, DAT, FLV, MPEG, DivX, XviD, and more, with its own built-in Codec system.

If you’re the impatient type, GOM Media Player can even play video files that are still in the process of being downloaded. As well, files that have been broken during the downloading process can still be played.

For audio/video files that GOM Media Player can not play due to a missing Codec, (I haven’t found one yet), GOM Media Player will attempt to find one using GUID; if you are interested in seeing how GUID works then go to GUID.org. Once it finds a match, you will be redirected to a download site from which you can download and install the required Codec/s.

A built-in Screen Capture utility allows you to take screenshots of your video directly from GOM Media Player. Using the Burst Capture feature, you can take up to 999 shots continuous screenshots. I love this feature!

This is my personal choice of media player, and I have yet to be disappointed with its performance. I highly recommend this excellent free application.

Quick facts:

    • DVD-quality videos with 5.1 channel audio output.
    • Supports most Codecs (AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, FLI using an embedded Codec system
    • Plays incomplete or damaged AVI file by skipping the damaged frames
    • Plays Locked Media Files while downloading or sharing
    • Supports HTTP Streaming ASF/OGG/MP3/AAC/MPEG PS/MPEG TS
    • Subtitle, Overlay Mixer features, Keys Remapping, Super speed/High Mode
    • Play Audio CD
    • Play Video CD/SVCD/XCD
    • Enhanced Filter Rendering
    • Drag-and-drop support
    • Editable skins
    • Real-time index rebuilding for AVI files
    • Unicode support

    Advanced Features:

      • Customizable settings on the control panel
      • Adjust image brightness, hue, and saturation
      • Sharpen and add noise to your video
      • Audio equalizer
      • Fast forward/rewind using left/right keys
      • Repeat a section of your video using A-B Repeat feature

      System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista

      Note: I’m currently running this application on Windows 7 RC with no problems whatsoever.

      Download at: Download.com

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      Filed under Digital Media, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Multimedia Tools, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

      What’s Hot in the Download World? – Checkout the Top 20

      image There must be a gazillion sites on the Internet that offer application downloads, of one type or another – OK, that’s a slight exaggeration.

      My favorite download site though, by a substantial margin, is CNET’s Download.com – although it is not the only download site I use.

      I trust the programs I download from this site to be free from adware, spyware, and the multitude of other malware that floats freely on the Internet. Because of CNET’s adherence to a strict policy of offering untainted downloads, regular readers of Tech Thoughts are aware, that when I review an application, if the program is available for download at Download.com, I direct interested readers there.

      If you have ever wondered what applications make it to the top of CNET’s vast repository of software, then take a look at the top 20 downloads for the week ending May 10, 2009.

      Here’s a look at what’s hot:

      AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition

      Avira AntiVir Personal – Free Antivirus

      Advanced SystemCare Free

      Avast Home Edition

      Ad-Aware Anniversary Edition

      Orbit Downloader

      LimeWire

      Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

      WinRAR

      YouTube Downloader

      Camfrog Video Chat

      Download Accelerator Plus

      VersionTracker Pro

      FrostWire

      GOM Media Player

      IrfanView

      Free YouTube to MP3 Converter

      PhotoScape

      FLV Player

      Virtual DJ Software

      If you don’t find anything in this list that interests you, check out CNET’s main site.

      Comments Off on What’s Hot in the Download World? – Checkout the Top 20

      Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Audio Software, Digital Media, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Graphic Software, High Definition Video Players, Image Editors, Interconnectivity, Media Player Replacement, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

      GOM Media Player – 5 Star Rated and Free!

      Free 5.1 Channel Output. Advanced Playback Capabilities.

      Tired of Windows Media Player’s weaknesses? Fed up with its 24.5 MB bloated size? Are you unhappy with its outrageous overhead requirements? Then GOM Media Player, (the unusual name stands for Gretech Online Movie Player), may well be the tool you’ve been looking for.

      GOM Media Player’s support for a diverse range of file formats, it’s built in Codecs, and its advanced playback capabilities, have made it one of the most downloaded of all Windows Media Player replacements. It is the number one downloaded media player on CNET (download.com), with nearly 12,000,000 downloads to date.

      gom player 2

      GOM Media Player is a relatively small (4.66MB) application that can play most encoded video formats including AVI, DAT, FLV, MPEG, DivX, XviD, and more, with its own built-in Codec system.

      If you’re the impatient type, GOM Media Player can even play video files that are still in the process of being downloaded. As well, files that have been broken during the downloading process can still be played.

      For audio/video files that GOM Media Player can not play due to a missing Codec, (I haven’t found one yet), GOM Media Player will attempt to find one using GUID; if you are interested in seeing how GUID works then go to GUID.org. http://www.guid.org/ Once it finds a match, you will be redirected to a download site from which you can download and install the required Codec/s.

      A built-in Screen Capture utility allows you to take screenshots of your video directly from GOM Media Player. Using the Burst Capture feature, you can take up to 999 shots continuous screenshots. I love this feature!

      This is my personal choice of media player, and I have yet to be disappointed with its performance. I highly recommend this really excellent free application.

      Quick facts:

      • DVD-quality videos with 5.1 channel audio output.
      • Supports most Codecs (AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, FLI using an embedded Codec system
      • Plays incomplete or damaged AVI file by skipping the damaged frames
      • Plays Locked Media Files while downloading or sharing
      • Supports HTTP Streaming ASF/OGG/MP3/AAC/MPEG PS/MPEG TS
      • Subtitle, Overlay Mixer features, Keys Remapping, Super speed/High Mode
      • Play Audio CD
      • Play Video CD/SVCD/XCD
      • Enhanced Filter Rendering
      • Drag-and-drop support
      • Editable skins
      • Real-time index rebuilding for AVI files
      • Unicode support

      Advanced Features:

      • Customizable settings on the control panel
      • Adjust image brightness, hue, and saturation
      • Sharpen and add noise to your video
      • Audio equalizer
      • Fast forward/rewind using left/right keys
      • Repeat a section of your video using A-B Repeat feature

      System Requirements: Windows Me/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista

      Note: I’m currently running this application on Windows 7 Beta with no problems what-so-ever.

      Download at: Download.com

      2 Comments

      Filed under Digital Media, Freeware, High Definition Video Players, Media Player Replacement, Multimedia Tools, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools