Splayer: impressive, lightweight media player that packs quite a punch

SPlayer is a free, open source media player that is lightweight, well designed, and quite powerful.

It promises to play every conceivable media format (including DVD’s and streaming media), and to optimize your audio and video quality to best utilize your hardware specifications.

It is light on power consumption, making it ideal for laptop/travel use, and offers a handful of innovative features such as on-demand automatic downloads of subtitles.

Wow! Where did this one come from? To start let me just state that there is an undeniable wealth of fantastic free media players available, such as The KMPlayer, which I am very fond of, VLCGOM PlayerBSPlayer, to name a few.

Which is why it is quite an achievement when a newcomer can lump all of the others together and somehow differentiate itself. Splayer does exactly that

Splayer Screenshot

by means of its sheer “economy”; i.e. by being lightweight, having a small footprint, being truly portable and light on power consumption, and by its sparse yet sleek interface. It does this while simultaneously being innovative and offering a breadth of features. Here are more notes on this program:

  • Lightweight: low footprint, low startup and playback memory footprints, low energy consumption (perfect for laptop travel use).
  • Design: a lot of attention to detail when it comes to interface design and look and feel. Splayer seems sparse and simple; on-screen controls appear only when you hover over the program dialog. They succeed in presenting a clean, minimalist interface even when the program has a lot of features on offer.
  • Optimizes picture and sound quality: reduces screen noise, features algorithms that are enhance image and sound quality, optimized for multi-core SSE2 SSE3 MMX GPU etc
  • Portable version available: unzip and run; includes all internal codecs that can play any media file in any environment. Look for the word “portable” on the program page to find the download link to the portable version. [Update 7/17/2010] Caution: some users have reported associations being hijacked and registry entries being added by the portable version – see comments section
  • Streaming: streams any format; allows users to supply URL for media on the internet.
  • Audio and video capture: to disk from device, supported.
  • Other features: “subtitle matching” automatically downloads and displays subtitles, bookmark favorite media, pin as topmost window, tweak transparency, capture screenshots, automatically remove black bar (if any) for widescreen video, etc.

Wish list

  • One thing I noticed switching from KMplayer on Windows 7 was that video file icons added after the switch no longer automatically displayed a preview screenshot as their icon. A minor issue but I hope it will be addressed.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: a very nice player that is also open source. With its combination of (a) being extremely light on resources, (b) having a very nice and sleek interface, and (c) playing every conceivable media format this program has won itself a permanent stay on my machine. It has also just become the default media player that I would recommend to people if asked. You will like it.

Version Tested: 3.3 (build 1021)

Compatibility: WinAll.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 5.75 megs).


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • gentk

    I also use the KMPlayer currently, and prefer it over VLC, GOM etc. due to the minimal interface and some unique configuration options which I’ve found useful over the last few years.

    I will give this a try, but it will take a lot to make me dump the KMPlayer over it.

  • gentk

    Oh, and the KMPlayer isn’t ugly with the right skin… that’s a cheap shot on their part :P (“comparison of similar products”).

    What’s with these east-asians and kickass media players anyway? :P Seems to be their niche.

  • http://my.opera/chocobillo Chocobito

    Its obvious that Splayer use the Gabest Media Player Classic source. I hope this don’t infringe any GNU licenses.

  • Jogy

    Tried SMPlayer?
    Like many others, this too is based on mplayer and works really well. The author gives wonderful support too! Many of the new feature request I put in got added … and added quickly!

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    OK I gave the portable version of this a go and it does look good. It does have a long way to go until it replaces KMPlayer on my system though. If you switch to accurate seek (keyframe) it tends to freeze up on seeking. Also I had automatic downloading of subtitles enabled and it downloaded the Spanish subtitles for the movie I had opened but there seems to be no option to change that.

    All in all I will be sticking with KMPlayer as it is far more powerful and stable.

  • PR-0927

    I am also a user of The KMPlayer (because of this site, actually).

    I’ve heard the menu was all in Chinese or something, and that playing .mkvs causes some problems. Is this true? And can it play 1080p files flawlessly?

    Also, the main thing that could get me to switch from The KMPlayer would be support for Blu-Ray discs (as long as it had the same exact playback support as The KMPlayer as well).

    Can anyone confirm/deny these things? I’m loathe to install a new program until I do hefty research.

    - PR-0927

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    @PR-0927 – Why not just download the portable version as I did? It’s a safe way of testing.

  • Franp

    Be aware !

    Even the portable version leaves traces in your system.
    On my Windows seven, it added chineses menus into the type auto-detetction windows and into the explorer right-click menu …

    Crap, that’s all.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    @Franp – Can’t say it left anything on mine. Are you sure you didn’t accidentally et it to be the default player or set hotkeys from the menu?

  • Crapton

    Just tried the portable version and compared memory footprint & CPU vs KMPlayer, same film same segment.

    KMPlayer < 20-25%, 25 MB
    SPlayer 50-65%, 50 MB

    It is very nice player but can not substantiate the claim of lightweight etc. I tried Splayer also with performance setting, a bit better but relatively little difference.

    Btw I run a simple Pentium 4 system with 2 GB memory on XP.

  • http://www.car-uk.info bestcarrwallpaper

    @crapton , thanks you, i m using this on my cpu..

  • Doc

    Tried the “portable” version, it added a “Play with ” and Chinese characters to my AutoPlay list, can’t remove it. Also hijacked all of my media filetypes (icons & descriptions, and “open with”) without asking. Terrible.

  • jasray

    No matter the player–the movie clip shown is from “Ink”–watched last night on Hulu, Hi-Res, no flicker, etc. Anyway, the movie definitely shows some originality and new age speculation–worthy of a watch by anyone. Story Teller is a “dream girl” in this part of the country. She’s sweetness and light!

  • Intrinsic

    Same problem happened to me as it did to Doc, even though i selected no files to be associated with the program it resets the associations to the system defaults it seems, this included non-media programs like WinRAR! Bad bad bad software. Just need to reassociate things back to BSPlayer(well worth the cash, leanest and meanest player really) etc

  • Mike

    I downloaded this software and then sent it to the Virus Total website to be scanned. At least three scan engines picked up problems. Am I to assume these are false positives? If yes, what do you think is causing the problem?

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  • DrTeeth

    Appalling software, lasted 5 mins on my system and left LOADS of dreck in the registry…some in Chinese.

    SMPlayer has now replaced VLC and GOM here; though puzzled as to why it has to cache font files.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    @DrTeeth – So first you say it only lasted five minutes on your system but then you say it’s replaced VLC and GomPlayer. So which one is it? Did you find it so appalling you stopped using it or have you replaced your current player with it?

  • http://www.brainfight.com Splayer en français

    Splayer sounds promising, but it lacks definitly of some updates in the code and web site to translate all part from chinese developpement. I hope they could open their translation tool to let community supports it with more languages.
    I also experienced a bug with subtitles, it changes of size quite often, as soon as there is an accentued character.

  • simplicity lover

    Nice start of a nice player, which would grow and improve with time. Thanks.

  • DrTeeth

    @Carbonize

    Splayer and SMPlayer are two different products!!!!!!

    DrT

  • http://carbonize.co.uk/ Carbonize

    Sorry my bad. I shouldn’t make comments after a 12 hour night shift.

  • Chandrashekhar

    Very Nice…. Post I am using VLC media Player. But Windows media player is also good.
    if you want to know how to enable subtitles in Windows mediaplayer 12 visit link below
    http://freecomputercourses.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-enable-subtitles-in-windows.html

  • Samer

    Well, after using this program for about a month I still like it a lot. Am I really in the minority?

    Yes there are some context menu entries that are in Chinese, such as the entry you get in the “open with” dialog, but that doesn’t seem to be a big problem and will probably be corrected somewhere down the line.

    I am disappinted that the portable version may not be “truly” portable, especially when the Splayer web site makes a bit deal that it is exactly that. Will keep an eye on it in case that issue is fixed (I am using the installed version on my machine and very happy with it).

  • Musiker

    I tried the portable version today and was very annoyed with a lot of entries it left in the registry. In terms of playback quality, the only player I can compare it with is Winamp (which is the only one I use on any regular basis), and in this respect it seems to do a little bit better than Winamp though.

  • mark

    I tried it after your positive review. It looks great & has a very intuitive GUI. After testing it I found it to be very buggy indeed. The internal subtitle downloader is fast & effective. It also messes with registry and other programs (it actually changed my KMPlayer subtitles settings !) I also found it to be using 25% more resources than KMPlayer. It has great potential but I will stick with KMPlayer for now. Splayer is something to watch out for when it is finished!

  • cowgod

    after trying the portable version out for a couple of weeks, i decided i really liked this media player. i decided to set it as the default player for all the file types it supported; then the problems cropped up. i’m running windows 7 x64 and splayer totally messed up my file associations. this isn’t a huge deal because i could reassign the file types with the built in windows “Set Default Programs” option, however this does not fix the bigger problem this created–thumbnails no longer show up in windows explorer (unless they were generated and cached before i installed splayer).

    i ended up having to rebuild my registry with the default file types found here: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/19449-default-file-type-associations-restore.html

    this fixes the missing thumbnails problem, but completely violates my trust in the program. i’m really disappointed because the interface is beautiful and it did play everything i threw at it, i just can’t trust it.

  • http://www.impressthenet.com Business Automation

    Thanks for the tip! I LOVE well written software!

  • lunaticprophet

    It will really have to be good for me to give up KMPlayer (love that app!). I’ll give it a try… but I’d be astonished if it can beat KMP!

  • Ragnar

    Something is fishy about this software. First it tries to make an automatic connection to the net for updates to an IP address associated with http://www.Chehalisvalleyrealty.com located in texas but the IP in China!

    After canceling that connection the next thing it tried to do was grab control of the system service that syncs the data between my computer systems, WTF!!! This software can not be trusted. I’m uninstalling this SOB now!

  • Ragnar

    Oh yeah, DrTeeth was right. This POS had a ridiculous amount of registry entries I had to remove, over 2000! I’m running several scanners over my system to do all of the cleanup. Even though its free, BUYER BEWARE!!!

  • Ivan Kolevski

    Splayer is good, but last time I checked it used unauthorized version of Core Codec, isted in the Misc.Settings install, which is quite wrong because Core Codec is not free and redistribution is prohibited.

    If you want to use similar player that is based on MPlayer and has very similar interface and better skin support try MPlayer WW SVN-r30380 @ http://sourceforge.net/projects/mplayer-ww/

    Portable version also available and it is veeeery light on resources and IMHO better than Splayer. MPC-HomeCinema is MUCH better in terms of bugs and development cycle than Splayer.

    Just my two cents,
    Regards,
    Ivan

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  • John ODwyer

    Great Site…thanx.

    John

  • bigjohnny

    Splayer hijacks file associations! Even the portable ones. Before running it, go to cmd.exe
    and save your default associations by typing this (WinXp): ASSOC>assoc.txt

    Now if it hijacks yours, you can restore them by finding the one hijacked in the file and restoring it by typing this in cmd, or making a batch of a bunch of them which is what I did:
    ASSOC .mp3=mp3 file

    here is my batch, which just calls an MP3 “mp3 file”, etc. if you saw this too late:

    Re-ASSOC.bat
    —–COPY BELOW—–
    ASSOC .AIF=AIF File
    ASSOC .AIFC=AIFC File
    ASSOC .AIFF=AIFF File
    ASSOC .ALAC=ALAC File
    ASSOC .AMV=AMV File
    ASSOC .APE=APE File
    ASSOC .APPLICATION=APPLICATION File
    ASSOC .ASF=ASF File
    ASSOC .ASS=ASS File
    ASSOC .ASX=ASX File
    ASSOC .AU=AU File
    ASSOC .AVI=AVI File
    ASSOC .BIK=BIK File
    ASSOC .CDA=CDA File
    ASSOC .CSF=CSF File
    ASSOC .CUE=CUE File
    ASSOC .D2V=D2V File
    ASSOC .DAT=DAT File
    ASSOC .DIVX=DIVX File
    ASSOC .DRC=DRC File
    ASSOC .DSA=DSA File
    ASSOC .DSM=DSM File
    ASSOC .DSS=DSS File
    ASSOC .DSV=DSV File
    ASSOC .DTS=DTS File
    ASSOC .EVO=EVO File
    ASSOC .F4V=F4V File
    ASSOC .FLAC=FLAC File
    ASSOC .FLIC=FLIC File
    ASSOC .FLV=FLV File
    ASSOC .HDMOV=HDMOV File
    ASSOC .IDX=IDX File
    ASSOC .IFLV=IFLV File
    ASSOC .IFO=IFO File
    ASSOC .IVF=IVF File
    ASSOC .IVM=IVM File
    ASSOC .M1V=M1V File
    ASSOC .M2A=M2A File
    ASSOC .M2P=M2P File
    ASSOC .M2T=M2T File
    ASSOC .M2TS=M2TS File
    ASSOC .M2V=M2V File
    ASSOC .M3U=M3U File
    ASSOC .MID=MID File
    ASSOC .MIDI=MIDI File
    ASSOC .MKA=MKA File
    ASSOC .MKV=MKV File
    ASSOC .MOV=MOV File
    ASSOC .MP2=MP2 File
    ASSOC .MP2V=MP2V File
    ASSOC .MP4=MP4 File
    ASSOC .MPA=MPA File
    ASSOC .MPC=MPC File
    ASSOC .MPCPL=MPCPL File
    ASSOC .MPE=MPE File
    ASSOC .MPEG=MPEG File
    ASSOC .MPG=MPG File
    ASSOC .MPLS=MPLS File
    ASSOC .MPV2=MPV2 File
    ASSOC .MTS=MTS File
    ASSOC .OGG=OGG File
    ASSOC .OGM=OGM File
    ASSOC .OGV=OGV File
    ASSOC .PLS=PLS File
    ASSOC .PMP=PMP File
    ASSOC .PSS=PSS File
    ASSOC .PVA=PVA File
    ASSOC .RA=RA File
    ASSOC .RAM=RAM File
    ASSOC .RATDVD=RATDVD File
    ASSOC .RM=RM File
    ASSOC .RMI=RMI File
    ASSOC .RMM=RMM File
    ASSOC .RMVB=RMVB File
    ASSOC .ROQ=ROQ File
    ASSOC .RP=RP File
    ASSOC .RPM=RPM File
    ASSOC .RT=RT File
    ASSOC .SMK=SMK File
    ASSOC .SND=SND File
    ASSOC .SRT=SRT File
    ASSOC .SSA=SSA File
    ASSOC .SUB=SUB File
    ASSOC .TP=TP File
    ASSOC .TPR=TPR File
    ASSOC .TS=TS File
    ASSOC .USF=USF File
    ASSOC .VOB=VOB File
    ASSOC .VP6=VP6 File
    ASSOC .WAV=WAV File
    ASSOC .WAX=WAX File
    ASSOC .WEBM=WEBM File
    ASSOC .WM=WM File
    ASSOC .WMA=WMA File
    ASSOC .WMP=WMP File
    ASSOC .WMV=WMV File
    ASSOC .WMX=WMX File
    ASSOC .WVX=WVX File
    ASSOC .XSS=XSS File
    ——-End————-

    • Samer

      Thanks for this bigjohnny.

  • Chris

    the portable version install to my computer more registry keys and accessed startup files , this is a full install not a portable version is you want my opinion (still clicking allow on my firewall … 50 notices to run a portable program… CS5 installer had less

  • Allen M

    I tested this player today and was amazed by the video color filters. I had slight troubles when playing flac files though. It was able to open the files, but I could not seek to a specific point within the audio file without the player freezing completely.

  • Bob M

    Don’t use this program under any circumstances. Even using the so called portable version will hijack all your file associations (even when you tell it not to associate any files) and it makes numerous entries in your registry – not a portable program at all. Prepare to spend a lot of time cleaning up your computer after using this – it is bad news. There should be a prominent warning at the top of this post.

    • Samer

      @ Bob: I removed the words “is truly portable” from the description and added a warning in red font, stating that the portable version may exhibit what you described. I did not experience this myself when I tested this program though.

  • jfjb

    Hello Samer,

    My regards to the Says family — and yours too.

    I’ve been playing with sPlayer v3.5 (build 1373), in Comodo Firewall Sandbox, just in case the Chinese characters invade my registry) but thanks to bigJohnny’s reminder (see above) of the ASSOC command, I monitored the install results: no invasion of registry associations — so far.

    sPlayer (Shooter Player, as the “About” box says) is not that much better than VLC as far as I can see, feel, taste and smell.
    Here are my comparative numbers in XP SP3, 2.8Mhz 3GB, NVIDIA GeForce GTS250 w/512MB, playing “Naked Lunch” over the Emerge Desktop shell version 5.0.0.213 (ahem!!!)

    Footprint ……… VLC 79,280k ………. sPlayer 62,524k
    CPU usage …. VLC 4-7% …………… sPlayer 8-10%

    So, where is the obvious dichotomy that would make the difference between a sure-fire old-timer of sorts and the new kid-in-the-block?
    I’ll be watching Spike Jonze next.
    Surf’s up, dude.

    jfjb

    • Samer

      @ jfjb: I deleted the double post. Its not your fault my site seems to go offline for a minute or so every time someone posts a comment. I think its something to do with the hosting.
      Thanks for these number (and yes the says family is alive and kicking as you can see)…
      I don’t really have anything to add, except that VLC seems to be under intensive development lately. CPU usage for both seems particularly low, but the VLC numbers are very impressive. Perhaps VLC was merely more suited for Naked Lunch !

      Thanks for sharing

  • zen

    now on v3.7 — any updated testing? am a bit wary since the blog page is in chinese, so is the dev page ^_’