Watching videos is something that most people do on their computer daily.
Whether you are watching through a website, streaming URLs using a native player, or downloading video files and playing them on your computer, you probably watch hours of video on your PC each week.
If you are having a poor experience streaming or playing back videos, your attention may turn to upgrading your hardware. While that does eventually become necessary, hardware upgrades are not the first step you should be taking.
Start by downloading and trying one of the top video streaming and playback players for Windows. Below is a list of the five best Windows apps for watching movies, television shows, and other video content.
If you want a single program that can play nearly every video file under the sun, then VLC Media Player is a must-install on your Windows computer. The advantage of using VLC is that you can install it onto older and newer computers, and you should not experience any compatibility issues.
Sometimes you try to play a video file on your favorite media player, or you are hoping to stream a video URL, but the file is not readable by that player. Perhaps you get video but no audio, or vice versa. Such issues are common with less reliable media players, but a non-issue with VLC.
A bigger challenge you may experience is finding a type of video file that you cannot play using VLC. The player is even capable of handling 3D videos up to 8K in resolution.
Another free movie and television show player that you can install on your computer, GOM Player is a very good option for beginners. The layout of the player is very easy to understand, and you can navigate its various options using a few clicks of your mouse.
Whether you are hoping to watch a video on your computer, or you want to screencast it to your television, you can do so using GOM Player. That is a feature you may not always find in other media players on Windows.
You can even play 360-degree or 180-degree virtual reality videos, which can go up to 8K in resolution. Keep in mind that whether you can successfully playback such high-resolution content is dependent on the CPU and GPU on your computer as well.
5KPlayer is a top-notch option for both streaming and playing back native media files. If you have downloaded a movie or television show episode onto your computer, you can play it through 5KPlayer without any hitches.
Streaming is easy too. All you have to do is add the URL into the relevant box within the menu of the player. Then you start the video, and it begins to load. You can go into the 5KPlayer settings menu to adjust the buffering of these videos, as that may improve your playback experience on slower internet connections.
One of the reasons to choose 5KPlayer over the other options on this list is the fact that you can stream YouTube through the player. You do not even need to watch videos on the YouTube webpage, especially if they are stuttering on your computer.
PotPlayer is one of the most advanced free players that you can download onto your Windows computer. One of the first things you will notice about PotPlayer is that it has a very aesthetically pleasing design and layout.
Most free media players do not give much attention to aesthetics, but PotPlayer is sleek and makes you feel as though you are using a modern, high-end media player to playback or stream videos on your computer.
PotPlayer does have support for 3D videos, while you can also update the codecs through the player. Another advantage of PotPlayer is that if you are streaming videos, you can screen record using the app, which allows you to save bits of videos or the entire file as it streams.
The only downside to PotPlayer is that it has many menus and video/audio options, which can become overwhelming for novice users.
One of the lightest and simplest video players to use on Windows Media Player Classic — Home Cinema is based on the old versions of Windows Media Player.
When you first open up this program, you may find it a little bare-bones. The menus are very easy to use, however, and you can playback videos and stream them with ease.
One of the advantages of using MPC-HC is that rather than being limited to the layout of the media player, you can adjust it on the fly. You can customize the toolbars to your liking, only adding the functionality that you would use the most often.
Given MPC-HC is so lightweight, if you have a very old computer that is struggling to handle HD videos using other media players, try this player. You are likely to get much better results, as the player is so lightweight that it does not use very many resources. You can upgrade your computer in the future, but MPC-HC will help you for now.
An issue that a lot of people experience on Windows computers, especially older ones, is that watching certain video files is challenging. The file may not play, or you may notice a lot of stuttering.
If you have this experience while streaming files through URLs, or when you download them onto your computer, using a different video player is the best way to resolve the problem.
Any of the five Windows apps we have highlighted above are ideal for playing back movies, television shows, and other video files on your computer. Even if you want to stream a video from a website, you can enter the URL of the video and play the video directly within the app.