Best Media Player Software: 8 Most Popular Picks of the Year

Here's our top picks based on popularity and performance

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • Media player software is useful for more than audio and video playback.
  • Explore all the amazing capacities these tools have to offer in this comprehensive guide.
  • Choose the best media player for your needs based on your specific requirements.
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Media software can be either media centers or media players that support a wide variety of multimedia file formats.

Both are among the most essential software as they play audio and video files on hard drives and Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and CD. Thus, most Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms usually include at least one multimedia program.

What is the best media player to use?

CyberLink PowerDVD – Among most popular media players

PowerDVD is one of the hottest media players primarily designed for movie playback, but you can also utilize it for music and even showcasing.

Supporting all the latest video technologies, PowerDVD allows you to play virtually anything from Ultra HD Blu-ray for 4K to DVDs, BD-Live, 3D DVDs, and even ISO files.

PowerDVD users can embrace virtual reality with their Rift and Vive headsets for 360-degree videos. Media casting is another great addition to this media player that enables you to stream media to the TV via Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku.

With its lossless audio format music playback, high-resolution photo slideshows, and media libraries, PowerDVD is more of a media center.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • TrueTheater cinematic enhancements for supreme video and audio quality
  • Multichannel lossless sound system
  • Compatible with all platforms and entertainment devices from PC and mobile to streaming devices
  • Content management features to easily search, browse and view your favorite videos
  • Seamless Playback for your entire media collection
  • View wirelessly on any device
Enjoy 360-degree videos, 4K, 8K, HDR, and more! Simply unleash PowerDVD’s potential to enhance your multimedia experience.
Check price Visit Website

GOM Player – High-Rated media player

The GOM player is simply one of the best media players available out there, plus you get to enjoy its amazing features absolutely free of charge.

Of course, if you want to take your viewing experience up a notch, there is also a premium version available that keeps annoying ads at bay and provides a comfortable high-resolution 4K playback without buffering.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Native file format support (AVI, MP4, MOV, DVD, CD, and more)
  • Capable of rendering even damaged video and/or audio files
  • Extensive subtitle library available with automatic search and sync capacities
  • 360° VR playback with the 360-degree mode
  • Fully compatible with the Windows architecture

GOM Player

The best media player globally acknowledged is up for grabs – take your viewing experience up a notch!

VLC – Over 3.5 billion downloads worldwide

VLC is one of the best-established media players that was first developed in the ’90s.

Despite its relatively plain UI design, VLC remains one of the best media players with a vast array of options and tools for video and music playback.

This is open-source software that runs on most Windows platforms, and it’s also compatible with Android, Mac OS X, iOS, and Linux.

How we test, review and rate?

We have worked for the past 6 months on building a new review system on how we produce content. Using it, we have subsequently redone most of our articles to provide actual hands-on expertise on the guides we made.

For more details you can read how we test, review, and rate at WindowsReport.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Extensive audio and video file format support
  • Play YouTube videos within the software, subscribe to podcasts and listen to radio broadcasts
  • Multimedia file conversion via a handy Convert tool
  • Selection of audio and video filters with which you can apply a wide variety of effects for cropping, geometry, colors, overlay, visualization, equalizer, etc.
  • Customization options, skins, plug-ins and visualizations to boot

Download VLC free here

What was originally the XBMC (Xbox Media Center) has now become the biggest media center for Windows and other platforms.

Kodi is a media center that pretty much does it all, and you can run it on most platforms. Windows, macOS, Android, Linux, iOS, and Raspberry PI are all platforms compatible with Kodi.

It’s not an exaggeration that Kodi does it all as the software supports a multitude of video, audio, image, optical drive, network protocol client and server and container formats.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Play music and video from Blu-ray Disc, DVD, CD, and numerous file formats
  • Organize your multimedia within metadata databases
  • Watch or record live TV, stream films and TV shows and listen to radio broadcasts via add-ons
  • Set up slideshows for your photos, check the weather forecasts and even play Kodi games
  • Customization settings (pre-installed add-ons, unique skins and layouts, menu items, backgrounds, screensavers, visualizations, startup window, regional settings, display mode and much more)

Download Kodi free here

Plex – Compatible with almost every mainstream platform in the world

Plex is a media center with client and server apps that shares the same XBMC roots as Kodi.

However, Plex is now completely different software and is the best media center for streaming multimedia content across alternative devices.

Plex’s client and server apps are compatible with almost every mainstream platform under the sun. You can utilize its server apps on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Netgear, and FreeBSD platforms.

Although the server apps are freely available, you’ll need a monthly Plex Pass subscription to fully utilize all the media center’s features.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Stream your multimedia content to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Roku, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast devices among others
  • Library organization that includes artwork and detailed bios for multimedia content
  • Cast media content to TVs via Chromecast, and watch online channels without subscription
  • Photo albums, photo tagging, lyrics for songs, and cloud storage synchronization (Premium subscription)

Download Plex here

KMPlayer – Supports 3D video content

KMPlayer is a freeware and highly versatile media player with tons of configuration options for audio and video playback that’s compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS platforms.

The software now supports 3D video content so that you can play 3D movies, and with its 3D Movies Plus app, you can watch programs from Discovery 3D World.

KMPlayer users can also watch 4K and UHD videos, and with the KMPlayer VR app for Android, you can watch 360-videos with VR headsets.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Includes video capture tools so that you can capture snapshots from videos
  • Stream compatible media content to mobile devices with KMP Connect
  • Watch 360-videos with VR headsets
  • Supports all the latest video technologies

Download KMPlayer free here

MediaPortal – Can play all Windows media files

MediaPortal is one of the best open-source media center alternatives to Kodi. The software has a stunning UI, loads of skins and plug-ins, and a full suite of multimedia tools.

MediaPortal pretty much matches, and in some ways eclipses, Kodi’s feature set. The software has its own TV-server with which to watch and record more than 10,000 live channels.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • Watch live TV on multiple PCs with just one tuner card
  • Stream both audio and video content from various sources
  • Set up photo slideshows for your favorite pictures
  • Remote web browser access to MediaPortal
  • Hundreds of plug-ins available for TV, videos, music, games, photos, and weather forecasts

Download MediaPortal free here

5KPlayer – TrueTheater technology

Compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms, 5KPlayer is a media player that’s had some rave reviews.

This is a 4K 5K media player with which you can play videos with 4K UHD 3,840 x 2,160 resolution.

Let’s quickly look at its key features:

  • High-res video format support
  • Download videos from more than 300 video sites, such as YouTube, DailyMotion, Vevo, and Vimeo
  • Built-in Airplay to stream multimedia from Apple iOS devices to the media player

Download 5KPlayer here

Media Center vs. Media Player

The main distinction between these two is that you can open and organize all your multimedia files with media centers.

Generally speaking, media centers support a wider range of multimedia formats than players. Aside from music and video playback, media centers also enable you to organize and browse multimedia files within metadata databases and showcase your favorite photographs with slideshows.

Another notable difference is that media centers are also DVR software (digital video recorder) with which you can both watch and record live TV with an additional tuner card. You can also add extra plug-ins to some media centers for weather forecasts, games, movie and TV streaming, etc.

On the other hand, media players are specifically designed for music and video playback. Some are dedicated video or music players (such as MusicBee), but most media players generally support both audio and video file formats.

Although there are a few exceptions, they generally don’t provide live TV and movie streaming.

However, media players can include more extensive options and features for audio and video playback than media centers. If you don’t need live TV, movie streaming, or any photo options, they can actually be a better alternative.

Whether you go for a media center or player, there are plenty to choose from. These are the best media software for Windows you will ever need.

These media software packages include extensive tools and options to get the most from your multimedia content.

As there is some disparity between media centers and players, it’s probably better to add one new media player and one media center to Windows. Then you can get the best of both worlds.

What software are you currently using? Share your experience with us via the comments section below.