This is sort of like a part two to my previous write-up about the best options for media in Windows 7. Some users took the time to add their favorite choices in the comments, so I decided to give their choices a little justice, download them and check them out myself. Here are my conclusions on the options that I test drove:
MediaMonkey: MediaMonkey has almost a cult-following in the media player and management realm. The software is one of the most extensive suites that I’ve ever used. Format support is one of the best and the features are so many that I cannot begin to name all and do the software justice. To briefly put it, this software is more for the experienced and demanding user and not so much for the casual media user. One particular feature that I enjoyed was the ability for the software to recognize your current player of choice and import all of its media information (play counts, ratings, ect…). My main issue with MediaMonkey was the cluttered look of the interface. While it does an excellent job of helping the user manage their media, I also prefer a combination of features and simplicity. Please correct me in the comments if I am wrong, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t appear to be available for the Mac, which is okay because this is a Windows news site. There is a free version and a Gold version of the software with added features for $19.95.
Gomplayer: If you are looking for a basic video player for Windows 7, look no further. GOM Player is just that…a basic video player. Format support is very good and quite extensive. All the major formats seem to be supported and the software even includes DVD support. The interface is simple and very easy to navigate. Features include: advanced codec support, the ability to adjust and configure subtitles, advanced video and audio settings. To summarize, GOM player is an excellent, small, video player for your video files and it’s free. If you are looking for the full media center experience, this is not your software.
Winamp 5.57: Winamp has been around forever and is one of the most popular and versatile media experiences for the PC that is available. Format and codec support is superior and features are as extensive as you will find. Skins, equalizers, visualizations, plug-ins, internet radio and internet TV are just a few of the options that Winamp offers. My only dislike with Winamp has always been the layout and interface. It’s not really my favorite interface out there, but that is purely preference and other users find it very easy to use and helpful, so you’ll need to judge that for yourself. The lite version is free and there is a Pro version for $19.95.
BS.Player: One of the older revisited favorites is BS.Player. This player is very good for playing many different file types and specializes in the DivX format. During installation, the player will check for missing codecs, which is a nice feature. BS.Player also doubles as a decent jukebox with the ability to play music files. One feature that it is missing is the ability to update album art, which is a huge “deal breaker” for me since I need to have the album art on my PMP. Music management and playback is exceptional, but the real bread and butter of BS.Player lies in its ability to play nearly any video format. Most importantly the BS.Player is available for free.
Windows 7 Media Center: I know, this one is obvious, but I believe it’s worth mentioning since it is a media option for Windows 7. Media Center is truly a one-stop shop for everything media. Music and video are at the forefront of the experience and pictures, internet TV and loads of other features round out the best Media Center to date. If you don’t believe me, try TiVo or some other media center experience and you will soon be regretting your decision. Media Center was buggy in past releases, but since, it seems that Microsoft has figured things out and is charging ahead with an excellent media solution. Simply put, Media Center relies on your computer and Windows integration for pretty much everything and codecs and formats work the same way. Basically, if Media Player plays it, so will Media Canter. There are so many features and options in Media Center that it could be its own article…wait, it is. For more information, take a look at Everton’s write-up on Media Center, here.
There ya go…as I concluded in part 1, there are many other good alternatives that I didn’t mention and I sure cannot do these ones justice in such a breif article. My main purpose is to show that there are many good alternatives. That’s part of what makes Windows, in my opinion, so much better than other OSes, the versatility and selection of software. As always, hope this breif summary helps.