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View Full Version : Excellent multimedia player nPlayer updated – now, it's even more recommended




Menneisyys2
Feb 16, 2013, 10:49 AM
I've dedicated several articles (last one HERE (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1490454) at MR) to nPlayer, an excellent multimedia player with unique multi-subtitle capabilities (AppStore link (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nplayer/id539397400?mt=8); $2.99 (Universal version)).

Back then, the biggest problem with the player was the relatively slow H.264 decoder – top players like AVPlayer(HD) or It's Playing (or, in this respect, much better yaPlayer) have all had much better decoders. Because of that, I couldn't really recommend the player as a generic player for most purposes.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/freshplayer/nplayer17t.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/freshplayer/nplayer17.jpg)
Fortunately, as opposed to many other players' update statements (see the above AppStore update screenshot – click for the enlargened version), the developers' claiming to have fixed this issue has turned out to be true: now, the playback speed is as good as that of the top players.

Taking into account that the player is indeed feature-packed, I can only recommend it (unless you need AC-3 audio support). It's well worth the price.

A more detailed pros / cons list (again, due to time / space constraints, I can't explain the background of all these bullets. I've dedicated a full tutorial / roundup to almost all of them. Please read my previous articles for more info on why, say, gesture-based fast forwarding / rewinding can greatly speed up seeking in a video or what one needs to know about playing back audio-only files.)

Pros

- the two biggest problem (low-quality/speed H.264 video decoder and buggy MKV subtitle rendering) of version 1.4 have been fixed. Now, A6(X)-based iDevices (iPhone 5, iPad 4) play back even 10 Mbps 1080p H.264 streams (like the Monsters test video) in software without really annoying stuttering or frame drops. (Unfortunately, earlier models, even including the A5(X)-based iPhone 4S and iPad 3/iPad mini, can't do the same – they drop frames and get the video and audio desynched after a while. With them, 720p is the maximum software-playable H.264 resolution.)

- hardware-accelerated, flawless MKV playback (added in version 1.4)

- support for video flipping (both horizontal and vertical) – few apps do the same (AVPlayer(HD) does – see its Tools menu)

- DTS audio support

- WMA (including Pro), WV, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Audio and Ape audio support; plays them back in background by default (you can enable the same for the audio track of videos in Settings > Videos > Plays In Background). Note that Ogg Audio and Ape streaming isn't supported, only local playback.

- dedicated fast forwarding / rewinding icons are large and their skipping interval can be independently(!) set between 5 and 300 secs in Settings > Fast Forward and Settings > Fast Backward

- access to both the iPod library and camera roll

- excellent (M)TS support ((European) DVB TS-wise, properly switches between 16:9 and 4:3; handles all subtitle and audio tracks and scrubbing.) Of course it won't play AC3 audio in original AVCHD MTS files or US DVB broadcasts.

- intelligent screen filling (not just “dumb” cropping zoom)

- flawless wired (HDMI / VGA) TV output, also with hardware-accelerated MKV files. (Note that some kinds of videos become choppy when played back via wired connections; for example, all my Standard Definition DVB TS test files. When not output to a TV, they're played back flawlessly on the same device, on the screen.)

- native (non-mirroring) AirPlay is supported for native iOS containers (all the other files can be played back in mirroring mode – with, of course, limited throughput and stuttering). For MKV files, playback is suffering from the same problem as with other “behind-the-curtains” MKV remuxers: plays about 10 seconds, then stops, loads the the next 10 seconds and restarts playing and so on. That is, MKV files can only be played in AirPlay mirroring mode (with its inherent, above-listed problems).

- good streaming support: FTP, UPnP, WebDAV / HTTP. (No SMB, though.) (Also see my UPnP bible (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1503346) for more info on its excellent UPnP support. Unfortunately, there is still no download support for UPnP in version 1.7. Also note that my audio streaming tests (see my posts in THIS (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1542079) on SBM audio streaming and background playback) worked just great.)

- speedup / slowdown works with non-hardware-assisted playback too (useful with, say, podcasts).

- screen gestures configurable. For example, you can easily enable gesture-based fast forwarding / rewinding by overriding the default “Seek” setting by “Forward/Backward” in Settings > One Finger Gestures > Drag Horizontally. Then, it'll use the custom settings you set in Settings > Fast Forward / Backward (see above). Excellent!

Cons

- while it can zoom into videos (by selecting “Original size” in the zoom menu), you can't scroll around the zoomed video, unlike in It's Playing.

- no AC3

- still no VobSub support during hardware-assisted playback (see the section titled “Unfortunately” in my last nPlayer-specific article (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1490454) here at MR)



hkim1983
Feb 16, 2013, 01:36 PM
You mentioned hardware accelerated MKV playback. I have a few questions on this:

-Can I play h.264 8-bit or 10-bit 720p files with NO frame loss on an iPad Mini?

-Is it more battery life friendly since it isn't pushing the cpu to its max? Approximately how much battery life can I expect out of an iPad Mini playing h.264 files?

-Is this better at MKV playback than a jailbroken iPad Mini using Rushplayer+? (which to my knowledge, is the jailbroken media app you recommend aside from XBMC, which I refuse to use for various reasons).

If I can avoid jailbreaking, I would gladly pay the $2 for this app. Thanks for the help.

Menneisyys2
Feb 17, 2013, 08:14 AM
You mentioned hardware accelerated MKV playback. I have a few questions on this:

-Can I play h.264 8-bit or 10-bit 720p files with NO frame loss on an iPad Mini?

8-bit: yes if you use a player with background remuxing and hardware acceleration.

10-bit: absolutely no if the video is at least 720p.

Unfortunately, the hardware can't decode Hi10P (that is, 10-bit); therefore, you must use software decoding. The A5(X) is just not powerful enough. Actually, one can spot frame drops even when using A6(x)-based iDevices like the iPhone 5, even when using top-quality software decoders. (Like those built in into HD Player Pro, It's Playing and AVPlayerHD).

BTW, if the 10-bit videos you want to play back are animes (with SSA subs), I strictly recommend "HD Player Pro" for playback as it's the only AppStore player to properly render these subs. But, again, you will not want to play back anything 720p+ back on an iPad mini - it's just too slow. Only A6-based iDevices (iPhone 5 / iPad 4 and nothing else) are capable of proper 720p Hi10p decoding. (1080p is impossible for them too.)

Also note that XBMC (the other (non-AppStore) player with SSA support) delivers worse decoding speed of Hi10P content than HD Player Pro, It's Playing or AVPlayerHD. (It's still better than GoodPlayer, though) - I've thoroughly compared the decoding speed of all these players using the 720p MKV video at http://web.hi10anime.com/da-capo-iii-10-bit-720p/ on both my iPhone 5 (A6) and iPad 3 (A5X; appr. the same as that of the iPad mini).

-Is it more battery life friendly since it isn't pushing the cpu to its max? Approximately how much battery life can I expect out of an iPad Mini playing h.264 files?

When the decoding is done in hardware, I'd say 4-5 hours at least. When in software, far less.

-Is this better at MKV playback than a jailbroken iPad Mini using Rushplayer+?

Nope. All these AppStore players use some background work to remux MKV files into iOS-native MOV / MP4 files. (If their video stream is hardware-decodable, that is. Hi10P videos aren't - with them, no remuxing will take place.) This means additional CPU usage. Therefore, jailbreak players like RushPlayer+ will always be more battery-friendlier than these players as RushPlayer+ directly uses "forbidden" system calls to play back 8-bit MKV videos and doesn't need to rely on remuxing these files in the background.

Note: I haven't exactly measured the battery life difference in the two cases. It MAY be negligible - but it can also be significant.

Nevertheless, why don't you want to JB? JB'ing lets you add a whole lot of GREAT apps and tweaks (e.g., f.lux) to your iDevice and is completely safe if you don't install unknown / new / cracked apps and change the root password. (Don't believe anyone that states the opposite - they're generally on Apple's payroll or at least try to get on there by licking their @sses.)

hkim1983
Feb 17, 2013, 11:18 PM
Thank you for the lengthy reply, it's been quite educational.

If my Mini can't handle Hi10P even with jailbreaking, then it simply isn't worth the trouble and effort to jailbreak for me, as that would be the only reason why I would do it. I suppose I'll have to wait until A7 chips and just use my laptop in the meantime, but by then, h.265 will be used...

I have never jailbroken something before, and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it until I've researched it thoroughly. I've read up on it now, but it sounds like it's more trouble than it's worth if it can't accomplish what I wanted anyway. Thanks again for the information.

Menneisyys2
Feb 18, 2013, 02:36 AM
If my Mini can't handle Hi10P even with jailbreaking, then it simply isn't worth the trouble and effort to jailbreak for me

The best would be just reencoding your videos to standard H.264. HandBrake re-packs the entire MKV file - just make sure you manually select SSA subs to be included in the target MKV file if you have any.

If you don't need subs, you can directly convert to mp4 (m4v) files, making playback even easier as it'll always be hardware-accelerated.

Menneisyys2
Feb 18, 2013, 03:31 PM
Note: I haven't exactly measured the battery life difference in the two cases. It MAY be negligible - but it can also be significant.


I've started making some serious tests to find out whether using JB'n solutions should be preferred to AppStore ones, battery life-wise.

I've tested an H.264 (non-Hi10P) conversion (using the Normal preset with audio and subtitle pass-thru) of the 2-hour-long Hi10P movie at http://web.hi10anime.com/colorful-10-bit-bd-1080p/ . The tests have all been done in exactly the same circumstances: on an iOS 6.1 iPhone 5 set to minimal brightness and auto brightness off (so that the screen's power usage is as low as possible to make it possible to better measure the power usage of the players themselves). All this in flight mode and after a reset before every playback, making sure nothing else ran.

As far as JB'n players are concerned, I've tested RushPlayer+. Playing back the entire movie (with subs enabled) has resulted in the battery life's decreasing by 23% (in all tests running from 100% to avoid differences)

Doing the same in the AppStore-based nPlayer, using HW acceleration, resulted in a somewhat lower battery usage: 15%.

Note that I've re-run the same test with nPlayer and disabled HW acceleration – that is, I decoded the 1080p video entirely in software. No wonder the player chewed thru the battery really fast: the battery usage was no less than 73%; that is, about five times(!) higher than when using HW acceleration.

Again, I've used a manual H.264 conversion of the original Hi10P video, meaning I could use hardware acceleration, as opposed to the original Hi10P file, which can't be played back using hardware acceleration.

All in all, being a jailbroken player doesn't necessarily mean less battery consumption. Many AppStore players consume less

I'll post more results as soon as I've finished benchmarking some other players; most importantly, It's Playing, AVPlayer(HD) and the current, nightly build of XBMC 13 alpha (it, as opposed to the official, stable 12 Eden release, supports the 16:9 screen of the iPhone 5). So far, I've only benchmarked It's Playing and AVPlayer using a 24-minute 720p video. It's Playing has turned out to consume singnificantly (about 1.5 times) more power than nPlayer or AVPlayer. AVPlayer consumed the least (about 30% less than nPlayer); however, it had clear compatibility problems with the test video; therefore, its results can still not be taken as final ones.

----------

Thank you for the lengthy reply, it's been quite educational.

If my Mini can't handle Hi10P even with jailbreaking, then it simply isn't worth the trouble and effort to jailbreak for me, as that would be the only reason why I would do it. I suppose I'll have to wait until A7 chips and just use my laptop in the meantime, but by then, h.265 will be used...

I have never jailbroken something before, and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it until I've researched it thoroughly. I've read up on it now, but it sounds like it's more trouble than it's worth if it can't accomplish what I wanted anyway. Thanks again for the information.

Check out my latest post above.

Cptnodegard
Feb 18, 2013, 04:46 PM
So which single playback app would you recommend for hardware h264 decoding?

Does that player support symlinks?

Menneisyys2
Feb 18, 2013, 11:54 PM
So which single playback app would you recommend for hardware h264 decoding?

Today evening I'll be able to answer.

Does that player support symlinks?

Almost all major players do.

Cptnodegard
Feb 19, 2013, 03:37 AM
Almost all major players do.

Cinexplayer doesnt :/

Menneisyys2
Feb 19, 2013, 04:43 AM
Cinexplayer doesnt :/

You're right - just tested it, directories aren't even shown as icons and individual symlinked media files are, while shown in the filelist, are unplayable.

Not that I'd recommend CineXplayer: with AVPlayer having received AC3 support, I don't really see much point in using Cinexplayer any more. (In almost every other respects it's clearly inferior to AVPlayer.)

Cptnodegard
Feb 19, 2013, 04:56 AM
You're right - just tested it, directories aren't even shown as icons and individual symlinked media files are, while shown in the filelist, are unplayable.

Not that I'd recommend CineXplayer: with AVPlayer having received AC3 support, I don't really see much point in using Cinexplayer any more. (In almost every other respects it's clearly inferior to AVPlayer.)

I bought Goodplayerbased on some other post of yours, but waiting to see which one player you suggest that does symlinks and hardware h264 decoding :)

Menneisyys2
Feb 19, 2013, 01:28 PM
Today evening I'll be able to answer.


Some new figures (along with the old ones, see above):

HW (or, as with It's Playing, semi-HW) decoding:

nPlayer 15%
It's Playing 42%
XBMC 13Alpha (17/Feb) 18%
AVPlayer: 13% (useless image, though - so far, all standard H.264-converted, originally Hi10P anime vids with SSA subs have turned out to be hardware-unplayable by AVPlayer)
HD Player Pro: 12%
BUZZ Player.: 23%

All with subs enabled, except for It's Playing, which wasn't able to properly render a lot of them so I disabled it.

SW decoding:

nPlayer 73%

More to come!

EDIT: added BUZZ Player.

Cptnodegard
Feb 19, 2013, 04:32 PM
I take it those are battery drain numbers? I was thinking more along the lines of which app handles the task better, i.e, plays back the most files, the best

Menneisyys2
Feb 20, 2013, 02:39 AM
I take it those are battery drain numbers? I was thinking more along the lines of which app handles the task better, i.e, plays back the most files, the best

Depends on the MKV you try to play back. (If it's MKV's that you want to watch. If not, list what kind of files you want to play back.)

- Does it only have AC3 audio? Go for AVPlayerHD. (If it can play them back in hardware, that is. I'll run some additional tests to find out what the above-mentioned incompatibility issues are caused by.)

- Does it have ASS (SSA) subtitles you want to see in all their glory? Go for HD Player Pro. (Unfortunately, no AC3 support in that.)

- Do you absolutely need volume / brightness / saturation boost? Go for It's Playing. (No AC3 / ASS support, though, and its battery drain is significantly higher than the two above-mentioned players)

Cptnodegard
Feb 20, 2013, 03:47 AM
Depends on the MKV you try to play back. (If it's MKV's that you want to watch. If not, list what kind of files you want to play back.)

- Does it only have AC3 audio? Go for AVPlayerHD. (If it can play them back in hardware, that is. I'll run some additional tests to find out what the above-mentioned incompatibility issues are caused by.)

- Does it have ASS (SSA) subtitles you want to see in all their glory? Go for HD Player Pro. (Unfortunately, no AC3 support in that.)

- Do you absolutely need volume / brightness / saturation boost? Go for It's Playing. (No AC3 / ASS support, though, and its battery drain is significantly higher than the two above-mentioned players)

I'll check out AVplayerHD; wasn't aware that any app still had AC3 support in it! Thanks!

Menneisyys2
Feb 20, 2013, 03:53 AM
I'll check out AVplayerHD; wasn't aware that any app still had AC3 support in it! Thanks!

It's been added back in late December.

(BTW, you may have missed my related announcement in the iPhone forum here. Sometimes I post these kinds of articles in the iPhone Apps forum instead of the iPad Apps one. My recent AVPlayer review, emphasizing it has AC3, was posted in the iPhone Apps forum.)

Menneisyys2
Feb 23, 2013, 10:32 AM
You mentioned hardware accelerated MKV playback. I have a few questions on this:


Just a quick heads-up: I've posted an entire article on all these: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=16895012