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VLC 2.0 Review

by Rob Zwetsloot

The cross platform, open source media player du jour VLC has just had a massive update to VLC 2.0 that should excite media consumers from every level

The amazing thing about VLC that helped make it so ubiquitous was that this tiny, free, open source package could play absolutely anything you could throw at it without going through the hassle of finding and installing various codec packs. Well, apart from the one DVD library for legal reasons.

In recent years though, VLC has slowly begun to lag behind. With other media players making better use of multi-core systems, and the inability to play Blu-Ray films or 10-bit content, the lightweight media player that could play everything was anything but.

Enter VLC 2.0. It’s finally been released nearly three years since 1.0 was finished, which itself took 13 years. With apparently 7000 code commits by 160 volunteers, there are huge changes that have been made throughout its core, as well as some tweaks to the interface.

VLC 2.0
The playlist is still intact, including thumbnail previews

The list of changes goes on for miles, but there are some highlights that are well worth noting. As foreshadowed above, some of the major noticeable changes include the ability to now watch Blu-rays and 10-bit HD video. Unfortunately though, the Blu-ray support is a bit limiting – firstly menus will not show up so you’ll need to do some deductive reasoning to figure out which chapters and scenes you want to be watching. Also, like its DVD support, you’ll need to grab an extra library or two to get them working.

It’s a huge step in the right direction though, and the main reason that it’s not fully supported just yet is because of the amount of work that has gone into the core rendering engines. Video outputs have been added, and older ones rewritten, now supporting better GPU optimisation and multi-threaded decoding for HD content.

The result is it plays content better than ever, whether it’s locally, in a browser, or streaming to other devices. And still it remains a tiny package that is extremely lightweight, especially now that it’s taking full advantage of a computers hardware.

VLC 2 Subtitles

Hopefully the Blu-ray support will be increased over the next year, either through the normal bug patch releases or a minor upgrade to 2.1. Even without this full support though, VLC has successfully reclaimed it’s crown as the best video playing solution.

Verdict: 5/5

The ultimate media player has lived up to its reputation by overhauling the core and adding support for new and better HD codecs, as well as basic support to play Blu-ray content, without losing and of its previous functionality. All this while staying small and lightweight through better hardware optimisations

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    • Srini

      Some how I found, start to playback is slower, compare to 1.1.*

    • MH

      Unfortunately, when I upgraded to 2.0 I lost sound from the digital output on my HTPC. This only affected VLC, not any of my other audio programs.

      Apparently, VLC now relies on the debacle also known as pulseaudio. After installing pulseaudio, sound returned to VLC albeit with some nasty static. I also lost the ability to control the volume of system notifications. Removing pulseaudio and downgrading VLC returned static-free digital surround sound to my system and control over the volume of my notifications.

      Obviously, this is an “upgrade” I would not recommend to anyone relying on digital audio.

    • JELaBarre

      Apparently, though, they *still* haven’t fixed the CDDP/freedb lookup problem yet, which apparently has been an outstanding problem since 2007 (5 years and how many interim versions have been released since then?)

    • Wm. A. Weasel

      Rob Zwetsloot Please review usage of “its” vs. “it’s”.

    • Ancurio

      Too bad you’re not gonna read this, but:

      please get with the frickin’ times. PA is standard.
      I’ve been using it since 2009 without a single problem, at a time when it was still flamed by Ubuntu users due to idiotic decisions made by their packagers.

      Also, please blame the packager of whatever distro you’re using, because VLC had PA/ALSA (and a bunch of other sound systems’) support as early as 1.3, and it hasn’t really changed in 2.0. It just needs to be compiled in.

    • bernie

      are you sure you are using ‘du jour’ right?

      its like saying ‘flavour of the day’, here today, gone tomorrow.

      VLC is a stalwart, a successful beacon of free software on multiple platforms for quite some time.

      I think you mean perennial or something like that.

      i usually like to wait for the first bug fixes before I install but I have a virtual partition just to indulge for these kind of things.

      I really hope their movie creator project picks up a little steam.

    • Zeroth

      Important to note that if you use VLC Remote on android to connect, VLC 2.0 has completely gotten rid of the “old_http” connection thing, so until the remote is updated, you won’t want to upgrade VLC. Just throwin that out there. :)

    • Timmy B.

      The update is horrible. Play back is slower, constantly freezes when moving the mouse during play back, having major issues trying to play on second screen, sound issues… the list is going on and I’m not into having a media player that doesn’t work. All around FAIL.

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