StarCodec is a free pack of media codecs optimized for a wide range of media players and formats, packaged together with a single installer. It offers stable, high-quality video and audio playback from a variety of sources, including files, disks, and Web sites, and numerous configuration settings to optimize media compatibility and playback.
Installing the StarCodec pack involves choices like post-processing and file associations; we chose the defaults, but they're easy to change later. Clicking Finish opened StarCodec's locally downloaded HTML product page in our browser. StarCodec's Start Menu entry includes DivX playback controls and a DivX configuration tool, an AVI FourCC settings dialog, a MediaInfo feature with dozens of language options, and a folder labeled Config. There are also icons to quickly access the StarCodec Web site as well as remove the codec pack and associated software. The Config folder contains the settings for configurable filters, encoders, and decoders, including the aforementioned ones as well as Xvid and ffdshow; there's an SPDIF Test tool, too. None of the various settings seemed likely to challenge users who have configured media playback options before; there's assistance available online but no actual Help file. With codecs, the proof is in the playback, and we played a wide variety of video and audio files through three common media players: Windows Media Player, Zoom Player Pro, and the free, open-source VLC Player, which packs its own set of codecs. We played AVI and MPG video shorts, DVDs copied to the hard drive, iTunes-compatible music, and even a few odds and ends, all without a hitch or glitch. Clicking Remove quickly uninstalled all the codecs and associated software, requiring a reboot to finish and reassociate file types with their previous defaults.
If you're having trouble playing certain files in certain media players, you should definitely check out StarCodec. There are lots of free codec packs out there, but few we've seen are as complete as StarCodec's, and none we've come across are bundled together in such an easy-to-use package.