VLC 1.0 review

VLC plays just about any digital video format known to humankind, including DVDs, and it does so with very little fuss or faff. It’s been in perpetual beta for the best part of a decade, edging incrementally closer to version 1.0 at a pace that snails would consider lazy. Now that it’s finally reached that target – has it been worth the wait?

The first thing worth noting about VLC 1.0 is that it’s very stable. We’ve been running various versions of this venerable player for a number of years on a number of platforms and have had the odd moment where VLC has frozen the system or balked at a file it should have happily played. We’ve had no such problem with VLC 1.0. In fact, if you do try to play a file that VLC thinks is corrupt or that has the wrong wrapper – the software offers to fix it for you.

No full version release would be complete without a couple of bona fide new features. In VLC we get frame-by-frame playback, real-time recording of media and a big batch of new decoders. There’s also support for AirTunes.

Alas, Mac development on VLC has lagged behind Windows and Linux on some fronts and that’s apparent in VLC 1.0. There’s no support here for Mac OS X 10.4 – so Tiger users will have to stick with the 0.9.10 version. Let’s hope it works on Snow Leopard – or this will be a very system specific update.

OUR VERDICT

Even with this tricky issue – one that’s shared with several open-source tools – VLC 1.0 remains the best of media clients. For many savvy users, it’s the default player to use and in this landmark version, that’s truer than ever. Just before we went to press version 1.0.1 was released, which fixes notable bugs and regressions that were present in the 1.0.0 version.

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