GOM Media Player
Pros: Wide media support, built-in screen capture tools
Cons: No help manual, saving settings are a little weak
Extras: Audio output options, subtitle support, skins
Numerous media players are jockeying to become the default setting for your music and video streams. Among the top audio contenders clamoring for your ear--among them RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, DivX Player, QuickTime, and WinAmp--GOM Media Player has stood out as a firm favorite.
GOM Media Player's support for a wide range of media certainly helps. DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, WMV, ASF, AVI, and MOV formats are all compatible, as are common codecs like FLV1, AC3, OGG, MP4, and H263. A pop-out playlist can save and organize your various media files, though the limited sort modes (two) hardly makes it a champ.Visual features
More impressive are the customizable settings on the control panel. Here you can adjust a video's image brightness, hue, and saturation. There's no preview window, and changes occur as the video runs, so unless you care for a rousing session of trial and error, be sure to tweak the settings after clicking "play."
More and more apps include a built-in screen capture feature for viewers to grab still frames from within a running video. Captured images are saved in JPEG format by default, to a dedicated GOM Media Player directory. The advanced features let you switch to BMP mode, adjust image quality, and access the photo directory. I would prefer to be able to rename the file in advanced mode before saving. For now, you'll have to rename from the open directory. Another screen capture option, zoom 'n' pan, toggles through settings to reorient the video for a more stylized screenshot.
I personally like the player's slick orange-and-black default theme, but customization buffs can download additional skins from the GOM Media Player Web site, which you can also access from the program file on the Start menu. As always, when you download third-party software from an unknown source, take special care to scan the file for viruses.Audio features
While home jockeys are welcome to dominate individual slides on the 5.1 channel audio output controls, casual listeners benefit from a host of presets to optimize a range of musical genres, including rock, techno, and classical, as well as, usefully, laptop speakers. You can also bracket part of a media file to form a new clip, and adjust subtitle settings if your video is labeled--a karaoke video, for instance. Right-clicking the mouse calls up a list of keyboard shortcuts to help fine-tune these adjustments, though even better would be a way to save the settings.