GOM Player

Free video and audio suite GOM Player can handle just about any format you could name, and even supports 360-degree VR video. This not only lets you play online video from YouTube, but also interactive videos you’ve shot yourself. This might not have mass-appeal at the moment, but it’s a video type that will only grow in popularity in the coming months and years.

GOM Player has a couple of very neat search tools built in. It supports subtitles – ideal for accessibility, or just watching videos without sound – and rather than hunting high and low on the interest, you can use the player's own search facility to track them down and add them to the video.

In a similar vein, should you find that you have a video in a format that GOM Player is unable to play by default, the problem will help you to find the necessary codec and get it installed.

User experience

GOM Player has a simple, clean interface, though this comes at the expense of accessibility. There are very few on–screen control besides the bare minimum playback buttons. If you want to do anything else, such as changing sound or video settings, you'll have to navigate its menu system. Some useful everyday tools – such as a the graphic equalizer – are present, but harder to find than they should be. This can cause frustration when you're first starting out, but it's worth persevering with the program. Once you get used to the way it works (and the learning curve really isn't all that steep), you can forgive it some slight peculiarities.

Like many other media players, GOM Player is skinnable. This means that if you don't like the way it looks by default, you can completely change it by applying a new theme. That said, these skins are purely cosmetic, so if you're not a fan of the menu system, changing the look won't help.

GOM Player supports all the most popular media file formats, and could easily become your main media player once you're used to its quirks. There's also a mobile app – GOM Remote – that lets you control the desktop software from the comfort of your sofa.

The installer is a bit of a sneaky one, though. The Express setup option installs potentially unwanted programs (including web browser plugin), and will change your default search engine and home page. It's off-putting and easy to miss unless you work through the installer slowly. Take time to read what's happening, and make sure to select the Custom Installation option (don't be put off by the fact that's labelled as Advanced) so you can opt out of unwanted extras.

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