Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Video playback is a confusing mess. For most people the player to be used is defined not by personal preference, but by the type of file.
What is the best media player to download to view attachments with videos, Real? Quicktime? Windows media?
How about all of the above?
The problem is that as the recipient you don't have a whole lot of choice. It's the sender that determines the format that they send you, and you'll just have to have a player that understands it.
And not all players understand all formats.
Sadly, the world of video in particular is a confusing mess of formats and options. If all you're trying to do is view a video that someone else has provided, it's complex enough. Heaven help you if you want to try and produce a video.
For playback, to keep things the simplest:
Like I said, that's the simple path. While it results in three different media players on your machine, it usually works.
But recall that I said it's a complicated mess.
What's really happening for most media players is that they don't understand anything at all, in and of themselves. They rely on "codecs" (coder/decoders) that are installed on the system to actually understand the various media formats.
So naturally when you install the Real player, it also installs codecs that understand Real formatted files. Similarly when you install QuickTime, it installs codecs for QuickTime formatted files.
It's even possible that, after installing various media players you may find that some can actually play the formats of another.
There are some alternatives.
One of the classic alternatives is Media Player Classic. Designed to look like an older version of Windows Media player, you can set it up to play all three. That, of course, is best done by installing the separate applications anyway, after which their codecs become available to Media Player Classic.
But at least you can use a simple and consistent user interface regardless of which format you're viewing.
For codecs there are both Real Alternative and QuickTime Alternative which provide codecs that can add Real media and QuickTime support to other players without having to download the "official" versions of those applications. This is a common way to add Real and Quicktime support to Media Player Classic, for example.
There are two issues with Real and Quicktime Alternatives: typically they're not quite as full featured as the originals and it's not clear whether they're actually legal.
My recommendation for the average user is the simple one: install each player as you need it. (My personal preference is to then immediately disable the start-up programs that each of these programs adds. Those add no value, in my opinion.)
If you'd like a single user interface to handle all formats once the various official players are installed, then download Media Player Classic to act as a front-end.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.