Like me, you’ve probably got plenty of media files on your computer, in umpteen different formats; MP3s, MP4s, AVIs, WMVs, FLVs, DATS, OGGs, SWFs, MOVs, RMs, VOBs MKVs, etc, etc, and don’t you just wish there was one player which would play all of them? Of course, Windows Media Player is pretty good, as are some others, but the closest I’ve come to finding the panacea of media players, has to be GOM Player.
First released in 2003, the totally free GOM Player has been updated quite a few times, the current version, v. 2.1.28, being fully compatible with all versions of Windows and, at just over 7mb, downloads and installs in just a few minutes.
On the outside, GOM Player looks pretty much like any other media player. The clean, uncluttered, default front end consists of the usual playback position bar and playback counter, volume control, play/pause/stop/forward/backward, open file, control panel and playlist buttons and a button to access the program’s settings. There are only 2 video skins which come with the program, and 2 music skins (directory lists), but colours are changeable and there are more skins available to download and, you can design your own if you’re artistically inclined.
Much of what GOM Player has to offer, however, isn’t readily apparent, and there are some features which raise GOM Player above much of the competition.
One interesting feature is the ability to play media files which have become partially corrupt or, perhaps, are still in the process of being downloaded. GOM Player scans ahead through the file looking for playable parts, and simply plays them. It doesn’t fix damaged files, but it does give you an opportunity to play them.
Another great feature, should GOM Player encounter a media file in a format which it is incapable of playing by default, is that it will inform you of that fact and ask if you would like to search for the appropriate codec on the internet. Nine times out of ten the codec will be found, downloaded and installed quite quickly and playback can begin. On the few occasions this fails, it’s usually because the file is corrupt beyond redemption, and GOM Player cannot identify it as playable.
One more excellent feature I’ve used more than a few times is the audio sync facility, whereby audio which is frustratingly out of sync with the video, can be moved forwards or backwards in 0.1 second increments.
Subtitle support covers the major subtitle formats and, as I do, you can keep all your subtitle files in one directory, within which GOM Player searches for a subtitle with the same name as the media file currently playing.
Some of the more frequently accessed commands are available in the control panel, which is opened via the button on the player. Here you can adjust brightness, contrast, colour saturation, pan & scan and access the screen capture buttons. Capturing a screen is as simple as clicking the button, but there’s also an advanced screen capturing facility, which allows a “burst” capture up to 999 frames, and a facility to make the captured image your desktop wallpaper.
The control panel also includes an equalizer, which many audio presets such as rock, dance, hall and laptop speakers, a subtitle explorer to cycle through subtitles if, perhaps, you have them in different languages, which also has a facility to move the subtitles forwards or backwards in half second steps if they are out of sync, and advanced playback controls such as time jump, playback speeds and A-B repeat.
There is also a simple to use playlist editor, where files can be added, deleted and the playlist saved for opening later.
Many other relatively frequently accessed commands are available on the main menu opened by right-clicking anywhere on the player window. Here you can open files, access all the extensive playback, subtitle, video and audio options, aspect ratio settings, full pan & scan options, window sizes etc.
The rest of the options(!) are available on the preferences menu. Here you can set up GOM Player just how you like it. It probably wouldn’t even occur to most users that they can change the default action associated with the mouse buttons or the scroll wheel, but here you can. Here also are the font settings for subtitles, where you can change the size and colours, and even add outlines and shadows to make them easier to read.
All the playback commands and a multitude of the other commands all have associated keyboard shortcuts, which make accessing them much simpler. The preferences menu also allows you to assign specific commands to particular keys if you’re already used to a setup.
It must be said that the customisation options go beyond what most people would require, but if you watch media on your computer often, and like to be in control, you might want to spend a little time setting GOM Player up to be just how you like it.
In conclusion, whether you’re looking for a media player which is very intuitive and requires little knowledge to use, or a media player which you can customise to your specific requirements, I can wholeheartedly recommend GOM Player.