Most media center software and even iTunes requires a fast processor and a lot of memory from your Home Theater PC (HTPC). Many realize that their computer is simply too slow to play these files. Even for standard definition files with higher bandwidth or compression your playback may not be smooth enough to watch them. This is particularly true when you bring your laptop as a living room computer only to realize that iTunes or other players do not work properly.
Fortunately, there is a solution and even better it is completely free. When I was still using my laptop as a living room computer, the KMPlayer was the only media player I have found that played all my files (even HD video!) without jerky playback or tearing in the video. Believe me, I have tried several media players including The Media Player Classic, Zoom Player, Nero, PowerDVD, iTunes, BSPlayer, etc. My computer was simply too slow to play particularly .MP4 files on iTunes or any other media player. With KMPlayer I was even able to play high definition video files smoothly.
What you will need:
The KMPlayer is an excellent video and audio player which is able to play virtually any common media file format. It is one of the most powerful freeware media players and it is very light to run, which means it does not consume a lot of your computers resources. This makes it ideal choice for those who do not have the processor performance for resource intensive media centers.
Installing the KMPlayer is quite straight forward thanks to installation wizard. When installing the KMPlayer, you need to make sure that you select the Performance option during the installation wizard process. This optimizes the playback on slower computers. It will decrease the playback quality slightly, but this is barely noticeable.
After installation, you can add a folder where your movies and videos are located to generate an album art for each media file. This turns your slow laptop into beautiful looking Home Theater PC with nice interface and good performance. Alternative way is to change the KMPlayer as a default player for different file formats in windows so that you can launch movies directly from the windows explorer.
Finally, to take the experience next level, I recommend investing about $15 to CoreAvc codec. According to the CoreAVC.com “the CoreCodec CoreAVC High Definition H.264 video codec is based on the MPEG-4 Part 10 standard and is the video codec used in AVCHD, Blu-Ray and in HD-DVD. H.264 is the next-generation standard for video, and CoreAVC™ is being recognized as being the world’s fastest H.264 software video decoder”.
Before installing the CoreAVC I was not able to play M2TS files from my Sony HD camcorder, but the combination of CoreAVC and KMPlayer made playing HD home videos possible. This is an important tip to all of you struggling with a slow computer and “jerky” video playback.
If you are interested in getting the most out of your HTPC media center, continue reading our popular list of media center tips.