Setting up a new (to me) laptop, what media codecs?

So, long story short, I traded laptops with my mom, and now have the computer with the minimalist setup I gave her for Christmas last year. Now I’m just setting it up for my use, and I’m wondering what all media codecs should I download, and where do I get them, just so I don’t get caught flatfooted at some point in the future? I watch mostly AVIs, DIVX, FLV, and some MKV videos, along with a few assorted other formats.

You can get them all (or at least everything you need) with the XP Codec Pack.

Also pick up VLC which will play those pesky files that have a problem but it’s not a codec problem.

Just a note: if you go the VLC route, you should not need the codec pack as they are already incorporated into the player. Another good all-in-one player is Media Player Classic Home Cinema.

If you want general codecs, I personally would go with ffdshow. It uses open source libraries for audio/video decoding and handles most formats. I have found it less troublesome than codec packs.

If you want to view mkv files and are not using one of the alternative players, you will also need the Haali Media Spliter. This properly splits the out the audio/video/other streams for general DirectShow players.

For realplayer and quicktime formats, I would recommend the packages named Real Alternative and Quicktime Alternative - they do the job, without all the unnecessary and intrusive extras you get with the genuine articles - especially Realplayer - which has just become a miserable vehicle for popups and spam.


All excellent advice.

I have VLC on my computer, but i prefer the Media Player Classic interface, so nearly all of my video watching is done using Media Player Classic, ffdshow, QuicktimeAlternative, and RealAlternative.

There is basically no video that this combination won’t play, and it gives you all your playback needs in a simple package, rather than having to search around dodgy website for a whole bunch of different codec packs.