App Pick: VLC 3.0

Posted on February 10, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Windows, Windows 10 with 21 Comments

App Pick: VLC 3.0

In its latest incarnation, the VLC media player addresses some long-standing complaints and adds some killer new features. Enough so that even casual users may want to go to the trouble of installing and using the new version of the app.

For years, VLC was part of the default set of apps that I installed on every PC. The reasoning here is simple enough: Microsoft’s built-in apps were simply too unsophisticated. And that’s true whether you were talking about legacy apps like Windows Media Player or newer attempts like Videos/Zune Video, which debuted in Windows 8.

But two things changed to make VLC less useful to me. First, Microsoft’s built-in video app, now called Movies & TV, improved to the point where it offered everything I needed, including support for subtitles and captioning. And worse, VLC, while excellent, never adapted to the high DPI displays that are common now on the PCs I travel with. The app just didn’t keep up. So I stopped using it.

Previous VLC versions did not scale well on high DPI displays

Well, things have changed yet again. This week, VideoLAN shipped VLC 3.0, a major update to its video player. And this release is a big deal, one that addresses my complaints and adds some other great new features.

VLC 3 finally supports high DPI displays seamlessly

Key among them:

  • Chromecast compatibility
  • Scalable UI that finally looks right on high DPI displays
  • 4K and 8K video playback support
  • HDR support

There’s a lot more, but those are the big ones. Also note that VLC is available across a wide range of platforms, including Windows XP or newer, macOS 10.7 or newer, iOS 7 or newer, Android 2.3 or newer, Android TV, Chromebooks with Android support, Linux, and others.

The one unknown here is battery life: Whatever you think of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) generally, or Movies & TV specifically, it’s going to give you the best battery life. And that matters when you’re on the go. There’s no way to know how or if VLC changes that dynamic, but it’s something to think about if you’re using a portable PC on battery power. And nothing in VLC’s release notes says anything about battery.

Still, a very nice update. And an app that I will, once again, install on all of my PCs going forward. You should give it a look.

 

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Comments (22)

22 responses to “App Pick: VLC 3.0”

  1. Avatar

    Siv

    I checked in my 2.x version for updates and it said I was up to date??

    In the end I had to download it from the VLC site.

    My only gripe with VLC was it's determination to not remember the size you set its window when you last used it. It always seemed to create a huge WIndow so you have to resize it back to a more manageable setting.

  2. Avatar

    robinwilson16

    I can't install this.

    Have been trying since this announcement and always get the same error:

    The app didn't install. Code: 0x80246013


    The Office 2016 UWP apps give the same error.

    Everything else is updating/installing ok though.

  3. Avatar

    seapea

    It was a piece of cake to update to VLC3.

    As for concerns about battery life and Chromcast, well ...

    " If media codecs are supported by your Chromecast device, VLC only acts as a streaming server (which is battery consuming). If not, VLC will transcode andstream media, which is highly cpu and battery consuming. "


    geoffreymetais.github.io/features/vlc-30/

  4. Avatar

    Shmuelie

    The one unknown here is battery life: Whatever you think of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) generally, or Movies & TV specifically, it’s going to give you the best battery life. And that matters when you’re on the go. There’s no way to know how or if VLC changes that dynamic, but it’s something to think about if you’re using a portable PC on battery power. And nothing in VLC’s release notes says anything about battery.


    I'm curious if the UWP version of VLC (that has also upgraded to 3.0.0) will be comparable to Movies & TV for battery life.

  5. Avatar

    PeteB

    Gimped UWP version is pointless and way more laggy than proper Win32 version. Did they not get the memo that wmobile is dead and there's no upside to sticking low quality phone oriented apps into Microsoft's petty DRM wrapper?

  6. Avatar

    Rcandelori

    Great to finally have HiDPI support.

  7. Avatar

    karlinhigh

    I am happy to see FluidSynth MIDI playback has returned to VLC. It allows setting custom sound fonts. With the S. Christian Collins GeneralUser GS SF2-file in place, VLC becomes my favorite MIDI-to-audio converter.

  8. Avatar

    gvan

    Can it play videos downloaded via iTunes?

  9. Avatar

    MikeCerm

    VLC has never properly supported GPU acceleration for some reason, so that's why the battery drain is higher than other apps. The only reason I really use VLC is because there's never any codec issues and because it's so easy to manipulate playback speed. But if you're just watching a common file time at regular speed, there are better options.

  10. Avatar

    Bobby Williams

    Finally! VLC is usable again. The dpi issue was really pissing me off. Origin has the same issue. If it wasn't for my love of The Sims 4, I would never use Origin.

  11. Avatar

    warren

    About time they fixed the high-DPI issue. I stopped using VLC ages ago because of that.

  12. Avatar

    glenn8878

    You would think the UWP app would work better than the Win32 application, but it’s the opposite. Video would be blocky. Pictures and video would not orient automatically. Takes a long time to play. Just bad performance overall and can’t take advantage of a new and speedy Intel processor. In fact, it seems like my iPhone 7 plays videos faster than my PC. I uninstalled it and forgot it.

    • Avatar

      NazmusLabs

      In reply to glenn8878:

      You might be interested to know that I believe the UWP has also been updated with the features introduced in the VLC Win32 engine. In fact, even the Android and iOS received the update, which you will note if you read their full changelog.


      You may be interested to see if the new update mitigates the issues you noted with the UWP version.


      P.S. One big pain point for me in regards to the UWP version is that the app tries to build a media library, making the initial setup slow. It's frustrating to see the app doing all the extra processing updating it's library when I open a video or audio using it. I use iTunes and Windows's built in apps to handle library management. I love the simplicity of VLC Win32 in that I can use it as a standalone player to open files on demand from file explorer.

      • Avatar

        skane2600

        In reply to NazmusLabs:

        "P.S. One big pain point for me in regards to the UWP version is that the app tries to build a media library, making the initial setup slow."


        It just illustrates that whether it's a Win32 application or a UWP application, delays like this are really just a function of the developer's feature choices, not something intrinsic to the platform choice. One could imagine that if the desktop version of VLC had this capability, it might be enabled/disabled by a checkbox within a traditional Win32 installer (the horror!) that would allow someone who wasn't interested in the feature, to enjoy a more responsive experience.

  13. Avatar

    Paul Tarnowski

    I actually prefer the Universal App version, funnily enough. Not that I think it has anywhere near all the options of the desktop version, it's just easier to deal with since I only use a video player sparingly. To that end just ran the Store app and had it update VLC automatically.

    • Avatar

      NazmusLabs

      In reply to ScribT:

      I like the UWP one as well. It's just that I don't like it wasting resources managing my library. I have iTunes, Groove, Movies & TV, and Photos apps to do those. I love using the Win32 player as a standalone player that just plays video on demand from file explorer without much overhead.

  14. Avatar

    Birraque

    VLC is a good media player but version 3.0.0 looks like a unfinished product to me.

    My Event Viewer has a lot of ERROS from vlc.exe now.

    It's easy to reproduce the problem:

    1. Start VLC

    2. Close VLC

    3. You'll see a VLC media player stopped working in reliability history (Control Panel; All Control Panel

    Items; Security and Maintenance; Reliability Monitor).

    You'll not see any dialog box of stopped working, just one entry in reliability history.

    The problem is with both 32-bits and 64-bits version.

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