Best Free DVD Player Software for Windows or Mac
Jessie T. used our Ask the Burning Geek form to ask the following question:
“I’m looking for a software that can play DVD movies in addition to ones I download. What is the best software to do this?”
So to answer her question I thought it would be best to add it to our blog so everyone could benefit. Or perhaps someone else has a better recommendation that I would welcome in the comments section. Please list what you are currently using to playback video, DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.. on your Windows, Linux, or Mac machines.
Ok, what I think is the best free DVD/Video player currently is VLC Media Player. Why do I think it’s the best? Well for starters it’s open source and a non profit organization run by volunteers which usually means they are trying to offer the best solution naturally. Others than being free the main reasons I like this are:
- It’s fast loading. No clunky high res image menu screens trying to load.
- It supports almost all playback mediums like DVD and DVB and video formats like DivX, MKV, MP4, x264, etc…
- It can stream video from streaming video sites
- It can play AVCHD format which is used on HD camcorders
- Cross platform support. Works on Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Solaris and others
- It’s an excellent basic audio and music player with playback supporting MP3, AAC, AC3, Vorbis, FLAC
Included Decoding and Encoding API’s
One of the major reasons VLC is so popular is because of the built in DVD Decoder that is included. This function enables the player to run DVD movies that contain CSS or the content scrambling system which is a copy protection code added to movies to prevent the unauthorized use of duplicating or copying. All major (paid) DVD Player Software including PowerDVD incorporate a DVD decoder within the software so playback is seamless. Without this crucial addition you can not playback DVD movies. However software like Windows Media Player does not include a built in DVD decoder thus this free software does not playback DVD discs. This is one of the best reasons to have VLC on your system. If you don’t use it as your main video/audio player, it’s good to have as a last resort just in case your regular player takes a dump.
As you can see in the following screenshot the main user interface is pretty basic and straightforward. The software does support interface skins by utilizing the skins2 interface. This is a nice addition because of the blandness of the main skin. But hey, it’s free and it works.
Here is a short video on how to stream video over a network by using VLC Media player:
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