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I used vlc in my 'windows' days, and I still use it with debian etch. But I am very impressed with mplayer, specially how well it works with divx. From my experience I could not full screen divx on vlc, but mplayer works like a charm
For some reason, mplayer has choppy video playback and colorization problems on some of my videos. I hadn't even tried VLC until this last year, but now I have to say that it's done a near perfect job playing everything back.
I use mplayer for every video and DVD playback. It is the most reliable media player and it also has the most tolerance. VLC has never been reliable. Xine is also have been lacking in reliability. I do not know why people say that VLC and Xine is reliable to them. I tried compiling both VLC and Xine different and they always come out unreliable.