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AVS Media Player, an attractive alternative

Try AVS for a good-looking free media player.

Many users opt to replace the quirky Windows Media Player, either with one of the popular freeware open-source players or a for-pay "pro" player with more options. AVS Media Player is the latter type, only it's freeware. Like the open-source players, it handles a wide range of video, audio, and image files. With an attractive, up-to-date interface that will complement your video system, it's an excellent choice if you're looking for something a bit different from VLC, MPC, and the other free alternatives.

AVS opens with both its media player and playlist sections showing, though it's easy to close the playlist as well as switch between video and music layouts. The player's black skin, Aero highlights, and white fonts give it a sleek yet subtle look well suited to video duty. While such skins are hardly rare among media players, few boast such a skillfully designed layout. For instance, the settings and adjustments are a bit more like a TV's controls than most media players are, with a simple series of tabs where you can set the player's behavior, loudspeaker environment, aspect ratio, and subtitles.

There's an audio visualization feature that definitely improves on Windows Media Player's display, with a series of fractal-based animations that usually but not always indicate their intensity. For example, our favorite (in low doses) is called "Ambient," but "Seizure" might be more accurate. You can switch to the smaller music player view if you don't want visualizations.

We played video in both window and full-screen mode as well as audio with and without the visualization feature. The quality of both video and audio is excellent and will be limited only by your system (the minimum recommendation is DirectX 9 or better). AVS supports 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 surround sound, too. If you'd like an attractive, easy-to-use alternative to Windows Media Player and other free players that doesn't compromise on performance, try AVS Media Player.

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