I prefer the combination of Media Player Classic (MPC) and ffdshow. Media Player Classic has a look more like Windows Media Player 6.4 (the last good version), and ffdshow is just an alternate packaging of the same set of codecs that power VLC.
MPC also has some interesting features that are of use to me. It has an option to set the playback of video at a higher than normal priority, which helps keep things running smoothly. There are keybindings for adjusting the audio sync, I can use both ffdshow based codecs AND the originals, since I am able to disable or set priority levels on which codecs should be favored over others. It's also really small. Not that VLC is any slouch here, but its cross platform nature makes for some additional overhead MPC doesn't have.
I recently downloaded this from cnet and i think its just perfect. It performs better than WMP 10, my ATI software, and any other players. When i use VLC to playback a tv program recorded with ATI software; it looks exactly like when i recorded it but a little cleaner. When i use ATI to do the same, the colors are too rich and bright and blurry.
Its also much faster to startup and use. It plays DVDs too.
I just wanted to tell everyone about this. Oh yea, its also FREE.
I can't wait to read your posts after you try this VLC media player.