It’s free, it’s easy to use, and it’s one of the best media players you can download for your PC or Mac. We’re talking, of course, about VLC, the open-source video player that’s been available since February of 2001—not a typo.

VideoLAN, VLC’s non-profit overlord, officially released the much-anticipated version 3.0 of the software last week. The new “Vetinari” update, which has been in development since June of 2016, adds a number of useful features that helps the software play just about every file you can think of even better.

First up, VLC now supports Google Chromecast, so if you want to take whatever you’re watching on your smaller laptop PC and stream it over to your larger (Chromecast-connected) living-room television, that’s easy. Better still, if the Chromecast doesn’t support the type of content you’re watching, VLC will attempt to re-encode your content on the fly. The single downside is that you won’t be able to view subtitles on your Chromecast-playing content, but a fix for that is allegedly being worked on.

“VLC is 100% Open Source and Chromecast SDK isn’t: We had to develop our very own Chromecast stack by ourselves. This is also why there is no voice actions for VLC (except with Android Auto), we cannot use Google Play Services,” writers VideoLAN developer Geoffrey Métais.

VLC now supports HDR10 as well—High Dynamic Range content, which is a must-have if you’re a purist that wants the best-looking picture for the content you’re watching. Unfortunately, you’ll also need some extra hardware to get there: If the device you’re viewing videos on doesn’t also support HDR10, your content won’t benefit from VLC’s upgrade. And if it supports one of the other HDR formats instead of HDR10, same deal.

If you’ve been trying to watch ultra-high-definition content on your PC or laptop with little luck, VLC has also enabled hardware acceleration for 4K and 8K video content. In other words, the software will now use your computer’s graphics to help power the playback for this resource-intensive content, which means that your so-so computer (or smartphone) might finally be able to play these kinds of videos without any awkward stuttering or lag. (This article’s author can attest that it has made a world of difference for 4K content playback.)

Geekier VLC users will appreciate the software’s ability to now browse local network drives and network-attached storage devices, if that’s where you keep all of your video content. 360-degree videos (with 3D audio) are also supported, which should make it easier to view this content instead of having to deal with different proprietary players for each piece of hardware you use to create 360-degree content. And, in a little head-nod to an old-school format, VLC can now play HD-DVD .evo files. Remember HD-DVD?



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