Media Player Classic Home Cinema doesn't quite make the cut

Playing video files made easy, but with some gotchas that disappoint.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a free utility that provides video playback. Since there are a lot of video players on the market, this is a tough area for apps to really stand out from the competition. With a few performance issues and some operational quirks, Media Player Classic Home Cinema didn't come out at the top of the long list of similar programs.

The installation process is simple enough, although there's about a half dozen screens to step through. Once installed, Media Player Classic Home Cinema launches quickly, although there's no modification to the pop-up Explorer menu to launch a video clip with this tool except through "Open With." A separate menu option would have been nice. The player's interface is a little awkward. To open a file you don't get a standard browser window, but a list of recently opened files in drop-down format along with a Browse button that then offers an Explorer window. By default the player always opens with the sound turned off, and an icon has to be clicked to activate audio. While it seems like a small issue, this isn't the default with most players, and the extra step was a drawback. Playback was fine on most video files, but on larger files we did have a crash a few times. Another weird behavior is the Stop button, which resets to the beginning of the video instead of holding the current location like most players do. We had to get used to using the Pause button instead. Navigation back and forth in a video file also seemed slower than some competing products.

While we had only a few minor quibbles with Media Player Classic Home Cinema, the inconsistent crashing on larger files and those little quibbles quickly led us to uninstall the product and revert to the standard Windows offering. We're not sure why you'd want to use Media Player Classic Home Cinema over other players on the market. There's just not enough there to make this software stand out.

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