The right media player can make a huge difference to your favorite movies and TV shows. There are dozens of options to choose from, but it can be tricky to narrow down which media player is the right choice.
While most players have mostly the same features, there are subtle differences between the various options that greatly affect your experience.
We’ve covered three of the most popular options – VLC, Quicktime, and Plex – to help you choose the right media player for the best experience. Let’s start with Quicktime.
QuickTime Player is becoming the default for many users simply because it’s built into macOS, but even if you don’t have a default program, there are many reasons to consider.
First, QuickTime Player can play iTunes files. VLC Media Player cannot play iTunes files due to their DRM encryption. If you’re a Mac user immersed in their ecosystem, you can opt for an option that will allow you to play iTunes purchases with ease. The downside, of course, is that QuickTime Player is only available on Mac systems. Apple officially ended support for the Windows program in 2016.
QuickTime Player is ideal for videos recorded on iPhone, but it may not work as well with downloaded videos or more obscure file formats. Another drawback is that QuickTime cannot play .srt files, the most common subtitle format. If you want subtitles to be turned on while watching, QuickTime may not be the best option.
QuickTime has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that makes it easy to navigate and find the media you want. You can also record and edit videos using QuickTime, but this requires a QuickTime Pro subscription – $ 29.99 USD fee.
- Automatically included in macOS.
- Works with iTunes files.
- Easy to use interface.
- Not compatible with Windows
- Doesn’t work with shared subtitle files
- Less compatibility than competitors.
- Works with Mac, Windows and Linux.
- A huge number of plugins.
- Streaming capabilities.
- Huge range of file compatibility
- No music sorting option.
- Flat user interface
- Free tier fully functional.
- The paid version is inexpensive.
- One of the best choices for your home entertainment system.
- Alexa Compatible
- Difficult to add media.
- More features than the average user needs.
While QuickTime is the default media player, VLC is often the best option for a number of reasons. The main one is that it supports a huge number of audio and video file formats. The media player is also open source and available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
While no external codecs are required, VLC is compatible with an almost stupid number of plugins that allow you to extend functionality far beyond the basic ones. You can easily stream audio over your home network using the sftp / ssh protocols.
VLC has keyboard shortcuts for almost every function you can imagine. While this is not the most important part of a media player for most people, those who value convenience will love the extra flexibility it adds to the program.
The downside is that VLC doesn’t have the most attractive interface in the world. The color choices are soft in the late 90s style. Everything works without grace. Of course, aesthetics are not the most important thing in the world, but VLC also lacks the widest range of features as a music player.
The program lacks functionality for sorting music. VLC is designed as a video player. Although it can play audio, this is not its main purpose and it is displayed in the interface.
Buckle up – Plex has a lot to talk about. Although it is a media player, it is more of a server than anything else. Once you get Plex up and running, you can stream media from your devices to just about any other home device using the right hardware. If you have a lot of music and movies stored on your computer that you want to watch on the big screen, Plex is the way to go.
There are two versions of Plex: free and paid. The great thing about Plex is that the free version is already fully functional. The paid version just adds a few more benefits that fewer users might like, like VR support and Sonos integration. For the vast majority of users, the free tier will be more than enough.
If Plex sounds too good to be true, that’s pretty close to it. However, there are several areas where this is more of a hassle than a benefit. You can easily set up your Plex server, but there are problems adding media to it.
In fact, adding content requires naming specific folders and subfolders, which quickly becomes tedious. If you go through this process, you will be rewarded with a media library that you can access from virtually anywhere.
Plex is available for both Mac and PC, but it can be streamed to almost any device, including mobile phones. It also has Alexa integration, so after adding a file to the Plex directory, you can ask Alexa to play it and it will show up.
It’s a tough choice, but we’re voting for VLC. It provides the largest number of features and the widest range of compatibility with audio and video formats. Plex comes second, but it is too complex and user-friendly.
If you are a power user looking to turn your PC into a multimedia mega-center, then Plex is a great choice. On the other hand, if you only need a minimum of functionality and have a Mac, the built-in QuickTime Player is a great choice.