App Pick: VLC 3.0

Posted on February 10, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Windows, Windows 10 with 22 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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