5KPlayer Review: A Worthy Alternative to Movies & TV app

5KPlayer prides itself by saying it is more than a media player, to its credit, the app has built in support for downloading online videos, AirPlay support and it also supports playing Online radio. Let’s take a look and find if it’s worth your time or not.

Every operating system should cover some basic requirements: it should be easy to use, it should be secure and it should have great apps for general work. While the first is true and second is debatable for Windows 10, I don’t think the default Movies & TV app for Windows 10 is worth using. File format support is not strong, UI is not great and it is not customizable at all. We have talked about some alternatives that you can use in past, today, let’s take a look at 5KPlayer, a Windows and Mac supported media player that I have been using since last few days.

Made by a firm named DearMob, 5KPlayer prides itself by saying it is more than a media player, to its credit, the app has built in support for downloading online videos, AirPlay and it also supports playing Online radio. Let’s take a look and find if it’s worth your time or not in our 5KPlayer review.

Installation and configuration

Installation was pretty straightforward, you need to go to the 5KPlayer’s website and pick what OS do you use, after that, download around 40-megabyte offline installer and you are good to go. Unlike many apps for Windows, 5KPlayer did not try to sneak-in any adware or bloatware which is great too.

5kplayer review
Installation screen

The startup times are quick too and I found 5KPlayer to be responsive on both my computers, one running Skylake quad core i7 and the other one on a fifth generation dual core i3 processor.

Right after the first launch, the app asked me if I wanted to register, if you want AirPlay support you can register, I skipped and 5K Player did not ask about that anytime later.

UI and Navigation

5KPlayer Review: Library UI

Once you open it, you will find that app is divided into 2 tabs, first one is labeled 5KPlayer, which works just like a Now-Playing screen and the second one called the library. The first one is simple and works just like it should and the second one is where most organization and playlist management can be done.

The library is divided into many sections each for categorizing Music, Videos, YouTube downloads, and Playlists. There is a straight forward search bar at the top right corner and a button to toggle list and grid view. The UI is easy enough to navigate around without any trouble, and I liked how you can mark a media file “Favorite” just by one click.  This marked music and video files can then be quickly accessed from the Favorites section from the navigation pane. I would like to have an option to change the skin to light colors though, maybe it will come in future with an update.

Features of the app

The player window is fairly simple and straightforward to understand, if you are playing some videos and also working on some other window, 5KPlayer hides the title and menu bar unless you move your mouse over to it again, which makes it a lot like the Picture-in-picture mode in iOS 11. The player has YouTube downloading support too, to download a video, you will have to paste the video URL on the library’s YouTube section, after pasting the URL, you can pick what resolution you want and whether you just want audio or you want the complete video. While YouTube download component is not as full featured as paid tools such as KeepVid Pro or YouTube By Click, it should be enough to serve casual users very well.

Selecting any file in library brings some details about file and a handy conversion option, which works just as it should. For audio files, 5KPlayer converting to MP3 and ACC and in the case of video, I found H.264 MP4 conversion present.

The Player also supports AirPlay. Because I have an HTPC connected to my TV, I did not test the feature but a quick search on Google revealed that the function works just as advertised. 5KPlayer has online radio as well, where you can either enter the URL of stream yourself or you can pick from a handful of already added shortcuts. Once you have entered correct URL, Radio kicks in and if you need, it supports pausing the stream too.

Using 5KPlayer

5KPlayer has responsive launch times and I liked how despite being free, it did not show any obtrusive ad to me. If you are adding a ton of videos to the library, it may take some time to process files for the first time, but once it’s done once, the library navigation is quick and easy.  I threw some ripped MKVs and downloaded 4K mp4 videos to the app and the performance was smooth on my laptop that ran on i7 6700HQ and Geforce 960M graphics card.

It supports almost all common media formats including mp3, mp4, mkv, wmv, wma and flv. I tried playing some DVDs and ISO files which also worked very well.  When playing a 1080p video, 5KPlayer takes around 140 MB footprint on RAM which is definitely impressive compared to other heavyweight media players.

5KPlayer Reivew: Playing music on 5KPlayer
Playing music on 5KPlayer

Conclusion

5KPlayer is a good alternative if you are still using default Movies and TV app. The UI leaves some room for improvements, but using the app is simple and straightforward. The app is free and it has some interesting and unique features that VLC and others don’t have. If you are looking for a lightweight media player that should also come with Radio support and AirPlay support, 5KPlayer is worth a look.

Recommended: 6 Best Music Players for Windows 10

Wondershare Video Converter Review

While folks at Wondershare have named their app A video converter, I think its name hides some great features that it has. Sure, it is good at converting videos, but the app also has some other great features that are definitely worth your attention.

The Wondershre Video Converter is a PC and Mac supported video converter that costs $60 at the time of writing. We will discuss if it’s worth your money or not in our review.

Installation, Configuration, and First Impressions

Installation is pretty straight forward, grab the free to download installer, run the file and then you are good to go. Installation did not take much time, although the speed of installation will depend on your internet speed. The App has a reasonable footprint on the storage (almost 200MB) and the installer did not try to install any adware or bloatware on PC which is always great.

Once the installation is done, all you have to do is open the app and register using your license key and then you will be good to go.

From here, I did not need to download and install any additional codecs, you may want to change the output folder for converted files though, which I always prefer to be same as the input folder.

UI And navigation

Wondersahre Video converter’s UI is divided into 4 tabs, which are for converting, burning, downloading and media streaming respectively. Below the tabs, you can find two panes, the large one is devoted to listing the files that are to be processed and the narrow one is for changing settings for outputs.

Wondershare Video Converter is an x86 legacy app, so it will probably won’t work with new Windows 10 S, but on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Pro, startup time and UI response both were quick.

Convert

The first tab is labeled “Convert” and here, all the media conversion is done. To convert a file, simply drag it to the main area and then from the Right side pane, pick the conversion format, choose the output format and output quality, once you are done, just hit the big Convert button on the bottom Right corner and you will be good to go.

I was impressed with the editing tools and output formats, once you have added a media file, you can trim the video, add filters, crop the frame and even embed subtitles to the file before exporting it. Apart from having a ton of output formats (it includes support for VR videos and 3D videos too), it has presets for common smartphones and tablets which came in handy for converting media for my trips where I wanted to see some ripped movies on my phone.

There are a lot of output formats to choose from and they are arranged well.

You can also add watermarks on Videos, but I didn’t use that feature much.

Burn

The second tab is about burning media files to blank writable DVDs. In past, Microsoft included a DVD maker with Windows but starting from Windows 8, the company has removed the utility, if you need to burn and watch DVDs, the features of Wondershare Video converter should be more than enough.

Burning DVDs on Wondershare Video Converter

It supports both DVD5 and DVD9 and you can record the output on an ISO file of you need to, The process of burning a disk is fairly straightforward and similar to converting files. The app has 11 templates for creating menus (if you need to create one) and if you want you can customize the menu by adding your own pictures, music, and titles.

Download

Wondershare Video Converter’s third tab is dedicated to features around downloading videos from websites, while it is not as full featured as KeepVid Pro or YouTube By Click, for most users, it should cover all their needs.

Available video formats when downloading from a supported website

All you need is to copy the URL of Video from any supported website (YouTube is supported and so are most other major ones) then click on the Add URL button and then pick the resolution and format of the video. The download speed will obviously depend on your bandwidth, and then having conversion options to other formats makes it quite convenient to just grab some videos, converting them and then syncing them to your device for traveling.

It also supports recording videos straight from your desktop if a website is not supported.

Media Server

Wondershare Video Converter also has in-home streaming very similar to Plax, you can scan your media library and then stream it to any of your network-connected TV, that supports DLNA/UPnP.

Media Server

The app mentioned that it works with Xbox, Apple TV, PS3, Roku and Chromecast among other devices, but I did not use the Media Server features, so I can comment on its performance.

Performance and Usability

I installed and tested the Video Converter on two devices, the first one was a Skylake i3 Laptop paired with 4 GB or RAM and Intel HD Graphics, the second device was a Skylake Quad Core i7 6700HQ Laptop paired with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and Nvidia Geforce 960M Graphics card with 4GB of frame buffer.

The app worked well on both PCs, conversion on the first device was more time-consuming compared to the core i7 PC (which is to be expected considering the difference in core count and clock speed, but the time taken for Downloading and burning on both devices was almost same. Here is a screen shot of CPU utilization when I was converting a 720pMKV video to 720p MP4:

Usability wise, the app worked fine and during my a couple weeks of testing, I did not witness any crash or bugs that are worth mentioning. Understanding the UI and navigating around it was easy too, though I think it can be improved.

Conclusion

As a DVD burning or Video Downloading application alone, Wondershare’s utility would not be able to justify the price but considering it is primarily a video conversion application, Wondershare Video Converter is worth the price because it is easy to use and it performs well.

The idea of downloading some media off the internet, converting it to the desired format and then burning or streaming to directly is impressive and Wondershare Video Converter achieves it without any added complexity.

READ NEXT: These Are The 6 Best Music Players For Windows 10

Simplenote Review: A Great Note Taking app, But Not For Everyone

In this Simplenote review, we will discuss if it is any good for you or you should stick with Microsoft Onenote or Evernote.

Nota taking is something that people of all ages need to do at least sometimes in their lives. If don’t need to jot down something every day or every week, you may be okay with just the default note taking the app that came on your phone, but if you need to, then having a powerful and easy to access note taking app in your weaponry can make your life so much better. Simplenote is one of the most famous note taking apps and I have been using it since last month for a full Simplenote Review.

Simplenote review

Simplenote Main Screen

Basics, Installation and First Impressions

Simplenote is available for web, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux and MacOS. If you are one of the very few people who use Windows Phone, I guess you should be sticking with Microsoft’s own OneNote.

You can download the app for your device and start using it without needing to signup for the service, however, If you use Simplenote, I will recommend you to create a free Simplenote account as it will then sync your notes to all of your devices.

I have used Simplenote on Windows 10, MacOS and Android devices, while most features are available on all platforms, In my opinion, Simplenote’s app feels a bit more polished on MacOS.

Just like Onenote or Evernote, installation of Simplenote is pretty straight forward. On a Windows PC, simply download the installer from the site and run through the setup. The Windows app is based on a framework named Electron. It works, when I was on my secondary laptop (5th Gen Intel Core i3, 1TB 5400 RPM HDD, 4 GB RAM and Windows 10), I found that launch time right after booting was painfully slow.

Once started, the app is pretty snappy and easy to use.

On all desktop versions and on Web too, Simplenote’s UI is divided into two columns, on the left side, you can find a list of all created notes, and on the right side, you can edit or preview these notes. There is a search box on the top of note-list which works well. You can sort notes by either date or creation or by date of the last viewing. If you need, any note can be pinned to the top of the list with just the a click.

There is no way for you to categorize notes except using tags. I liked OneNote’s Notebook and section approach, and it would be great to see something similar here too.

Features

Simplenote looks modern and minimalistic on all platforms. On mobile apps, you can set a passcode to stop others from accessing your notes which is good to have.

When you are creating notes, you won’t find any option to customize the text or font size. There are no toolbar buttons to make text Bold or underlined. Worse for many people, you cant add photos or videos to your notes. Regarding text formatting, there is only one way you can stylize the text: using Markdown.

In case you missed it, Markdown is a standard syntax to stylize text similar to HTML except for simpler. For example, writing

 

* Item

* Item

- Item

- Item

 

Results in:

  • Item
  • Item
  • Item
  • Item

 

You can learn more about Markdown here.

So, if you want to stylize/format the text, you will have to learn markdown. Once you have known the basics of it, you can click on the ‘Info’ button on an active note and enable it.

Syncing

Free syncing to unlimited devices is a good addition because the notes are text only, you don’t need much bandwidth/data to sync notes. Keep in mind that your app settings are not synced. However, tags, markdown settings for individual posts and notes along with all revision history are synced.

Note Sharing

Sharing a note is a one-click affair. On all platforms, you can find a share button in the editor. Hit the button and you are presented with two options, you can either invite others to edit or collaborate on the notes in real time or you can publish the note to Simplenote’s website and share the URL with your friends.

Note sharing in Simplenote
Note sharing in Simplenote

Publish is a cool feature that is not available in most of the other note taking applanations.

Customization in Simplenote

Simplenote is more customizable than Google Keep, but compared to OneNote or Evernote, Simplenote falls short. Simplenote has two color schemes, Dark and Light.

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The fonts can be made larger or smaller by pressing CTRL+= or CTRL+ – on the keyboard. Also, you can switch between three levels styles of note listing on the list of notes.

Apart from the above, if you want to change something, you are out of luck. (technically, as the applications are open source, you can do change it however you want. But seriously. )

Using Simplenote in real life

Over my use of Simplenote for more than one year, I have liked Simplenote a lot, Typing some characters on keyboard and seeing it turned into a Heading or Underlined text is great for me, but there have been many situations where I really wanted the app to have photo support.

I thing Simplenote is a great app for people who never have to add images or to-do lists in their notes.

And there has been some annoyment too; the Windows app keeps nagging me to download and install the updates manually instead of doing it in the background. Also, you cant run more than one instance of the app at once. Meaning if you want to refer to another note while creating one, you will need to toggle between them back and forth which is annoying as heck.

I don’t know why, but I had lost a note when I was writing it due to an app crash, it has happed only once, though, so it might have been the fault of OS. Please keep in mind that this was on Windows.

Conclusion

Simplenote is a great note taking app for its simplicity, but it’s not for you if want to use photos or you want easy formatting of text. If you are someone who wants a distraction free and straightforward app to jot down your thoughts, Simplenote is great. However, OneNote and Evernote still beat Simplenote when it comes to featues and if you are using one of them, it is probably not worth moving to Simplenote.

Have you used Simplenote? How was your experience? Share with us in the comments below.

Further Reading:

Microsoft Arrow Launcher Review: Better Than Google’s

In the crowd of launchers, Arrow shines because of its quality, level of details and value, you can learn more in our Microsoft Arrow Launcher Review.

If you ignore Windows 8’s horrible UI for a moment, one can see that Microsoft has mostly done a good job of creating user interfaces. There have been no groundbreaking innovations done in UI by the Redmond giant, but as long as it is about making good UIs and Shells, I think Microsoft has done consumer software justice.

In recent years, Microsoft has been working hard at making mobile applications, not just for the ill-fated Windows Phone, but also for Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Arrow is a custom launcher that company released for Android last year and has been improving since then, here is my review of Microsoft Arrow Launcher.

Microsoft Arrow Review

 

Basics, Installation and First Impressions

Arrow is available in Google Play Store, and like most Android Launchers, it is free. But while most free launchers ship with a paid version or use ads to monetize, Microsoft keeps Arrow impressive clean by making it free without any ads. Microsoft still aims to get something from users -we will discuss that shortly

The download size is small – around 8 MB – and it doesn’t take much space on your phone’s internal memory, you can’t move it to SD card, but that’s acceptable considering how light it is.

I installed it on three devices, the first one being a 4.5” phone, the second one was a 5.5” phablet, and the last was a 7” HP Android Tablet. The launcher did install on Tablet but spend a few seconds with it on a large device, and you will understand that Microsoft has not optimized the app for tablets.

The Launcher does not work in Landscape mode and thus, if you are on a tablet, you will be better off with Google Now Launcher or some other one.

On a small device that you use in portrait mode, however, Arrow makes a great first impression. The upon install, your Wallpaper is changed, and Arrow asks you a couple of questions to set up app shortcuts for you

The app shines with its multi-page home screen and Customization

Traditional launchers have more than one pages that let you arrange app shortcuts and widgets across these pages; it is a bit different in Arrow Launcher. Instead of letting you add icons and widgets on any page, Arrow Launcher has pages dedicated to some tasks. There mainly five pages that you need to know about:

  • A To-Do List: You can create and check off to-dos and if you have WunderList, even see and work on a list from the home screen by signing into the app from settings.
Arrow launcher home screen
Arrow Launcher’s Home Screen
  • A Recent Contacts Page: The page contains some contacts that you have called recently, you can tap on a name to call or text that person, it is very handy if you call some contacts frequently.
  • A Recent Files Page: One page is dedicated to recent files that you have opened on your phone.
  • A Widget Page: There is a Widget page too, you can add widgets by tapping and holding on the page and choosing Add Widget from the next screen. Once the screen is filled, you add other widgets by scrolling vertically, a smart move, however, for many people letting users create a new widget page would be better.

arrow launcher home screen

  • An Apps Page: The page contains recently launched apps

Apart from these pages, Arrow has some other nifty tricks up its sleeve to make further customizations. There is a dock at the bottom area of the screen that can handle four apps by default. You can swipe up the dock to reveal five additional quick launch apps and a set of quick toggles that you can customize by pressing and dragging any toggle. Below the toggle, there is a brightness slider too that I don’t care much about Android already has one in the notifications.

Arrow Launcher App Drawer
App Drawer

Customization

Customization is a high point for Microsoft Arrow. The launcher has some beautiful wallpapers, and it can also change to bing’s photo of the day automatically. Apart from wallpaper, you can also use custom icon packs from Google Play Store.

You can change how icons appear in the home screen, but you can’t make any changes in App drawer -except for hiding apps. App Hiding is done in the settings and it once you have hidden marked an app as hidden, it won’t appear in in-app search as well.

The default search engine is (obviously) Microsoft’s own Bing, but you can change it to Google or some other from settings.

Unlike Google Now Launcher, Arrow lets you tweak icon density and size, and it has a High-performance mode to make it smooth on low-end devices.

You can also enable double tap to lock. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to wake your phone by double tapping the screen if your phone doesn’t support it.

All is not great, though; Arrow does not have a built-in way to lock specific apps with passwords or patterns. To password protect applications such as WhatsApp, you will have to install and use some other apps such as AppLock. Also, Arrow does not have support for any gestures which may be a bummer for customization freaks.

The Microsoft Ecosystem Focus

Arrow is free, and it does not have any Ads in it to let Microsoft monetize the app. Instead, Microsoft wants you to be in its software ecosystem. You don’t have to have Microsoft Office 365 or WunderList to use the app, but if you have these and you use these services daily, Microsoft Arrow shines. I don’t use Office 365, but I am a WunderList user, in my case, having the ability to see and check-off tasks without using widgets or going to the app is really convenient.

You can sign into a Microsoft Account, WunderList account and Microsoft Exchange accounts using to use all features of the launcher.

Final Thaughts

Microsoft Arrow is one good launcher, Microsoft beats Google in its own game by making a beautiful, fast and feature packed launcher for Android. It is not perfect, but Microsoft gets more things right than wrong, and in the crowd of launcher apps for Android, Arrow shines because of its quality, level of details and value.


Have you used Arrow Launcher? Did you like it? Share with others in the comments below.

Read Next: You Probably Don’t Know About These Android Apps Made by Microsoft