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The 15 best free multimedia downloads

Make your PC a multimedia powerhouse

If you find the media players and related software designed to turn your PC into a multimedia machine a little underwhelming, then check out our favourite 15 video and audio applications, all of which can handle just about any job you can throw at them. Visit PC Advisor Downloads for hundreds of great software downloads.

Any Video Converter Free Version
Playing video these days is no longer confined to your PC - countless other devices can play video as well, including handheld devices and music players, mobile phones, and the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The problem, though, is that if you've downloaded videos to your PC, they might not be in the formats your devices require.

This free application (download Any Video Converter here) will convert files from and to many different formats, including just about any that you find online. It even handles .flv files, so you could, for example, download YouTube videos using TubeMe and then convert them to a format suitable for your portable device.

Converting files is simple: just select the videos you want to convert (you can do it en masse), choose the format you want, and then click the Encode button.

VLC Media Player
Looking for a media player that will take on every audio and video format you've ever encountered, and many you've probably never seen - and that gives you plenty of extras as well? Then you'll want to grab this great free piece of open-source software. With some media players (such as Windows Media Player), if you want to play files in certain formats, you have to download a specific codec. In many other instances, you can't play particular formats at all. But VLC (download it here) is a free program that will handle just about any format you can throw at it.

It presents a simple, stripped-down interface, but offers advanced features if you dig deeply enough. When you're playing a video, for example, you can adjust the image in many ways. Similarly, a nice graphic equaliser lets you tweak audio effects. Even so, the extras don't interfere with the application's clean looks. And unlike many other multimedia players, VLC won't hog RAM or system resources.

BearFlix Basic
If you're fond of discovering videos online, downloading and playing them, and sharing them with others, you'll appreciate this simple-to-use file-sharing client (download BearFlix Basic here) that works on the Gnutella sharing network. It looks much like the popular BearShare, and with good reason - they're created by the same company.

Searching for a video is simple. Type in your search term or terms, peruse the results, and then decide which ones you want to download. You can manage and queue downloads, pause them, resume them, and so on. The program looks and works much like many other file-sharing clients.

The Theater feature, which lets you view the downloaded videos, is convenient. However, you may want to use it primarily to preview your videos (to make sure you've downloaded the ones you want), and then use your favorite video player for the actual viewing.

If you're a parent, be careful with this program. As with all file-sharing software, the files you find may have adult content. Also, when you install the software, it will ask whether you want to make BearFlix your web home page. Unless you agree to that, be sure to click the Decline button.

NEXT PAGE: GOM Media Player and DivX for Windows

  1. Make your PC a multimedia powerhouse
  2. Even more free video software
  3. GOM Media Player and DivX for Windows
  4. Great audio apps
  5. Foxy Tunes and Zune Media Player
  6. Foobar2000 and WinAmp Full
  7. Ashampoo Burning Studio 8.0

Visit Digital World for the latest home entertainment and digital audio news and reviews

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