KMPlayer is a powerhouse

KMPlayer may not be the easiest program to use, but it sure packs a punch.

Once you get past its nightmare of an installation process, KMPlayer's sheer power and flexibility are impressive. It includes a vast array of video- and audio-capturing options, as well as skins, a plethora of playback controls and tweaks, and broad DVD support.

When installing KMPlayer, be sure to keep your eyes peeled, as the process is less than straightforward. It presents a number of different jargon-filled installation options ("Extender Plus External Codec?"), an offer for a bundled Ask.com toolbar, and inexplicably another offer for a "Clean Water Action Reminder." It's also worth noting that my install experience included a prompt for me to "re-start as an admin" in order to update the app. I did this and was stuck in an eternal update loop that forced me to restart the program.

Installation issues aside, I am actually pretty impressed with the number of features KMPlayer offers. I was able to play DVDs without a hitch, and I didn't run into problems with any video file types. Also, the extensive menus include controls for brightness, contrast, hue, and so on, subtitles, screen size, aspect ratio, color, capture tools, and so much more. There's even a built-in audio equalizer and 3D playback capabilities. It's nice that there's so much packed under the hood, but it can be overwhelming if you're not completely comfortable with advanced video terminology.

With so many features, it's a shame there isn't a clear and concise Help file to get users started. Instead, the F1 Help command brings you to KMPlayer's online forum, where you are forced to sift through user-generated instructions and tips.

The bottom line is, if you are a discerning video enthusiast, looking for extreme flexibility in a video player, then KMPlayer should do the trick (once you get past the install process). On the other hand, if you're a more casual viewer looking for a simple player, then this download might be overkill.

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