VLC Media Player 0.8.6c Update

I upgraded my laptop to Windows Vista Home Premium two weeks ago, and as with any operating system and application upgrade I have run into a few snags along with way. One of those snags involves one of my favorite applications, VLC Media Player. I’ve written before about my Hauppage WinTV PVR-USB2 recorder that allows me to record TV shows. Watching those TV shows became a challenge, however. I’m rarely sitting at my desktop computer, although I do use the computer often thanks to the good people at Log Me In, a wonderful service that I highly recommend. My wife got me the WinTV a couple of years ago and I’ve had a few snags along the way that kept me from using it but for the time being, when there is a show worth taping, I can record it. Watching the show has proven to be a huge challenge. As I said, I often don’t have time to sit at my desktop computer and watch my recorded TV. We don’t have an Apple TV or Slingbox either, although I am trying to make a case to my wife why we need an Apple TV. The options I’m left with for viewing my shows are to stream them, or transfer them to either my laptop, iPod, or Pocket PC to watch on the go.

The first option I tried was streaming with Orb. I ran into a snag with Orb that plagues me across all of my options, but the snag is most painful with Orb. Probably because my recorder works on USB, every now and again the recording will have a "glitch" for about a frame. This will cause most media players, such as Windows Media Player, to skip several seconds. On Orb, that was disastrous, because every time I tried to back up the video the stream had to re-buffer. This made watching an hour long TV show take several hours, especially when the stream was cut off. I experienced the same problem on Real Player, and I didn’t have that many options to catch a stream from Orb.

I next tried to take the video with me on my laptop, but again, Windows Media Player and Real Player would skip several seconds on every glitch causing me to either miss part of a show or spend hours trying to get that part to play. About this time I was working with my Apple iBook running Jaguar (OS X 10.2), and I couldn’t find a way to play mpeg video on a Mac. That was when I came across VLC Media Player. VLC plays just about any format imaginable and works on almost every platform. I’ve used VLC Media Player on Mac, Linux, and Windows and I have never been disappointed. One of my favorite features of VLC besides the multi-codecs and cross-platform capability is that VLC will play right through the frame glitches with no skipping whatsoever.

That brings me to the point of this update. After I upgraded to Windows Vista, I went to watch an episode of Hell’s Kitchen that I taped. I brought up my old trusty VLC Media Player and found that there was a minor incompatibility: the audio would play but not the video. I was running VLC 0.8.6b. I checked the VideoLAN home page, and found that sure enough, VLC had been updated. The new version works flawlessly on Windows Vista. If you’re looking for a free media player, check out VLC.

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