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Menneisyys2
Feb 23, 2013, 05:01 PM
There is a lot of GREAT multimedia news. Let's start with one of the two best players, AVPlayerHD and It's Playing, which both have just received some major updates! After these two players, I quickly report on the new versions of some other players too.

AVPlayerHD 1.60

In several articles of mine (see e.g. my latest review and tips & tricks collection (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1513918)) I've mentioned AVPlayer(HD), an otherwise absolutely excellent multimedia player, had very limited FTP support. All it could do was simply downloading videos from FTP servers prior to playback, meaning absolutely no streaming capabilities.

Version 1.60, which has just been approved by Apple, to the rescue!

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/avplayer-appstore.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/avplayer-appstore.jpeg)
(AppStore update list. As with all the images in the article, click the link for the enlargened, original image.)

The new version, as its update notes states (see above), has greatly enhanced FTP support: now, it supports streaming over FTP and has a decent download manager.

(Currently, only the iPad version seems to have been approved (in Saturday evening, European time) – that is, the iPhone / iPod touch version is still at version 1.52.)

Unfortunately, there's still no UPnP or SMB (two much more widely used file access protocols) support in the app. However, adding full FTP streaming is definitely a step forward.

It's Playing 3.9

If you do need DSP's, the best player has too received excellent SMB support – and a brand new Settings screen where you can, among other things, make hardware playback default.

The file list (showing the remote list of an SMB server), with the new Settings icon in the bottom left:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/itsplaying-settings1.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/itsplaying-settings1.jpeg)

The new Settings dialog:
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/itsplaying-settings2.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/itsplaying-settings2.jpeg)

The SMB buffering has been fixed. Among other things, it, in addition to showing the currently pre-buffered video (see the thin line just under the position slider), it also displays the speed it's downloading / buffering content. See the annotated meters in the top left corner for the latter:

Because of the sophisticated buffering support, I haven't encountered annoying pauses during playback over SMB (assuming I let the player sufficiently pre-buffer). And yes, it supports hardware playback of iDevice-native files. And, what is more, it can play back MKV's (assuming they're compatible, see remarks below) using hardware acceleration over SMB! No other AppStore player is able to do this – only the jailbroken XBMC.

Unfortunately, over SMB,

- while it lists the embedded subtitles in iDevice-native files, it doesn't render them;

- with some MKV's, it just stated it was unable to open them; for example, the standardized Monsters and Harry Potter test videos. Other MKV's (for example, the standardized Birds test video (link (http://www.auby.no/files/video_tests/h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv)) or my AAC-only Kung Fu Hustle test video (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/112012/1122fixed-ac3-aac-mkvmp4-testfiles/mkv-with-aac-only-startsWithKeyframe.mkv)) were played back OK.

Note that the app also has a greatly enhanced desktop streamer client to, among other things, convert (non-supported) AC3 audio to AAC in runtime while streaming.

Unfortunately, the new version uses the CPU during hardware MKV playback as the old one (see my previous article (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547504) for more info).

Fresh Player 1.1

The update notes of this - as of the initial (1.0) version, in no way recommended (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1543612) - player promise improved MKV playback:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/freshpl11-appstore.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/freshpl11-appstore.jpeg)
(See the annotated sentence.)

Unfortunately, the new version isn't much better than the old one. Its MKV playback is still much-much inferior to the best players (AVPlayer(HD), nPlayer etc.). For that matter, it doesn't even support the Retina screen of the small-screen devices (iPhone 4+, iPod touch 4+), as you can clearly see in the following screenshot (see the badly pixelizated and aliased lines on the right and the girl's similarly pixelizated arm!):

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/freshpl11-ip5.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/freshpl11-ip5.jpeg)

All in all, it's still not recommended. There are much better players for the same price (or even less).

LuberPlayerHD 2.2.0

As you can check out in my previous review, the by far the biggest problem with this player was the lack of hardware decoding of iOS-native files.

The new version fixes this. Whenever you tap an iOS-native (mp4 / m4v / mov) video, a dialog box is displayed, letting you select from hardware and software decoding:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/LuberPlayerHD220-hwdecoding.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/LuberPlayerHD220-hwdecoding.jpeg)

Unfortunately, the app hasn't really been fixed. For example, there is absolutely no iPad Retina support when using software decoding. That is, all the time, except for hardware mp4 / m4v / mov video playback. This alone makes the player useless for iPad 3 / 4 users. Not that I'd recommend the player to anyone else – for the same price ($3) or, in cases, for much-much cheaper, there are much-much better choices.

iMedia Player 2.0

I've always recommended iMedia Player, the free (as-supported), but still excellent player.

The major version bump, in addition to introducing file list manipulation and playlist capabilities, also added SMB support – something absolutely missing from earlier versions, as has also been pointed out in the chart (it's HERE (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/122012/08smb/upnp-smb-chart.html)) of my SMB bible (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1503989).

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/imedia-appstore.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/imedia-appstore.jpeg)

I've very thoroughly tested the SMB support of the player and found out the following:

- it supports automatic discovery (unlike some other apps) in addition to manually adding a server
- it supports hardware-accelerated playback of iDevice-native formats (mov / mp4 / m4v), which is a definite plus
- it doesn't allow for manually fine-tuning pre-buffering. This means you may encounter buffering pauses during streaming as you can't instruct the player to pre-buffer as much as possible before starting the entire playback.

Two screenshots of the new SMB interface:

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/iMedia-smb1.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/iMedia-smb1.jpeg)
(server list + credentials dialog)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/iMedia-smb2.jpg (https://dl.dropbox.com/u/81986513/022013/hi10p/iMedia-smb2.jpeg)
(remote file list)



fhall1
Feb 24, 2013, 10:02 AM
Menneisyys2 - I just want to thank you for keeping us updated on what these players and their updates have - I like to read your reviews before I update any of my installed versions.

Menneisyys2
Feb 24, 2013, 10:11 AM
Menneisyys2 - I just want to thank you for keeping us updated on what these players and their updates have - I like to read your reviews before I update any of my installed versions.

Thanks :)

Just working on another review of a new video player (iMPlayer).

EDIT: I've posted it to the iPhone forum instead (as I used iPhone 5 screenshots in the article): http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547904

Weaselboy
Feb 24, 2013, 12:10 PM
Thanks for the info. Looks like both the iPad and iPhone version are both up now in the store.

CrzyIcE
Mar 1, 2013, 04:22 PM
Thanks for the reviews!

I have a question about AVPlayer HD:
What does it mean when one of my videos turn green when I have hybrid decoder turns on?

If I turn it off, the video will be normal colored but it would run at really slow speed.

Menneisyys2
Mar 2, 2013, 08:28 AM
I have a question about AVPlayer HD:
What does it mean when one of my videos turn green when I have hybrid decoder turns on?

It seems the app has problems with some kinds of videos. I haven't nailed down the cause for this - has happened to me too with direct anime Hi10P -> normal H.264 conversions having SSA subtitles. (BTW, I've even mentioned this bug here at MR: "AVPlayer, while draining little power, has turned out not to be able to play back any of these videos in hardware-accelerated mode. Most probably because of the SSA subtitles? I'll investigate the problem further. Before I find a solution, however, if you do want to use AVPlayer(HD) for hardware-accelerated MKV playback and you see greenish screens, consider switching to another player." (See http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547504 )

The solution is using another player, for example, HD Player Pro. (See the above article for other MKV players - they all played the same files w/o problems using hardware decoding.)

CrzyIcE
Mar 2, 2013, 11:08 AM
Oh okay,thanks! I will check out your other thread.

One other problem I ran into I am not sure if you can help me figure out the solution.
For my other videos that are not Hi10P but are in 720p, they run normally with the Hybrid Decoder turn on (at normal speed). But at times the movie would stop and I would have to press play again. At this point, it would rollback into the last 5 seconds and replay that again.

Is this also because of the hardware accelerated MKV playback not being strong enough? or something else?

For the time being, I will try to check out your other reviewed video players.
Thanks!


It seems the app has problems with some kinds of videos. I haven't nailed down the cause for this - has happened to me too with direct anime Hi10P -> normal H.264 conversions having SSA subtitles. (BTW, I've even mentioned this bug here at MR: "AVPlayer, while draining little power, has turned out not to be able to play back any of these videos in hardware-accelerated mode. Most probably because of the SSA subtitles? I'll investigate the problem further. Before I find a solution, however, if you do want to use AVPlayer(HD) for hardware-accelerated MKV playback and you see greenish screens, consider switching to another player." (See http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1547504 )

The solution is using another player, for example, HD Player Pro. (See the above article for other MKV players - they all played the same files w/o problems using hardware decoding.)

Menneisyys2
Mar 2, 2013, 11:13 AM
Oh okay,thanks! I will check out your other thread.

One other problem I ran into I am not sure if you can help me figure out the solution.
For my other videos that are not Hi10P but are in 720p, they run normally with the Hybrid Decoder turn on (at normal speed). But at times the movie would stop and I would have to press play again. At this point, it would rollback into the last 5 seconds and replay that again.

Is this also because of the hardware accelerated MKV playback not being strong enough? or something else?


It must be a problem with the way AVPlayer is remuxing the video in the background. It, being a fairly new entrant to the "remuxing" scene, may be more buggy than titles (HD Player Pro etc.) that had received remuxing earlier.

This is also shown by the "green" non-Hi10P tests I've spoken about.

CrzyIcE
Mar 2, 2013, 11:15 AM
Ohh I see, thank you again!

It must be a problem with the way AVPlayer is remuxing the video in the background. It, being a fairly new entrant to the "remuxing" scene, may be more buggy than titles (HD Player Pro etc.) that had received remuxing earlier.

This is also shown by the "green" non-Hi10P tests I've spoken about.

CrzyIcE
Mar 2, 2013, 02:13 PM
Sorry for the double post.
I bought HD Player Pro and it works great with the videos that had green screen with AVPlayer HD.

I couldn't find reviews of the HD Player Pro or the nplayer besides yours of the battery testing and both being able to play mkv.
Out of these two, are there any benefits that one have over the other? (in terms of the type of videos they are able to playback).

So far it seems that using just the default video app for my .mp4 files, HD Player Pro for 1080p videos, and AVPlayer HD for everything else, will cover all of my video needs.

Another question I have is referring to your:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=16860930&postcount=3

What does it mean to be 8-bit or 10-bit and how do you know which is which in a video?
Because I am using an iPad mini and I am not sure what you mean by

" 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.)"

For example, if I were to rip the 1080p video out of my bluray discs, would that mean the A5 chip in the ipad mini would not be powerful enough to play it in the video playback apps?

Menneisyys2
Mar 2, 2013, 04:04 PM
I couldn't find reviews of the HD Player Pro or the nplayer besides yours of the battery testing and both being able to play mkv.
Out of these two, are there any benefits that one have over the other? (in terms of the type of videos they are able to playback).

Basically, the most unique features of the two are:

- SSA support for HD Player Pro

- multiple simultaneous subtitle track display in nPlayer

BTW, I've posted several reviews of these apps here at MR. For example, that of the latest nPlayer version is at http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1543946

What does it mean to be 8-bit or 10-bit and how do you know which is which in a video?

If you encode yourself with, say, HandBrake, it'll be 8-bit by default, meaning it'll be playable in hardware. If you get the videos from elsewhere (e.g., a friend), you'll need to ask him whether it's 10-bit. Generally, only animations / animes are 10-bit today, the vast majority of MKV's are 8-bit.



Because I am using an iPad mini and I am not sure what you mean by

" 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.)"

For example, if I were to rip the 1080p video out of my bluray discs, would that mean the A5 chip in the ipad mini would not be powerful enough to play it in the video playback apps?

This only applies to SW playback, including that of Hi10P. The latter can only be played back in software and is completely unplayable on the slowish iPad mini.

CrzyIcE
Mar 2, 2013, 04:41 PM
Oh I see, thanks!
That clears things up.

fujitsu
Mar 2, 2013, 06:59 PM
Thank you for the reviews!

I'm looking to update my video player on iPad and your reviews did help. :)

CrzyIcE
Mar 10, 2013, 01:08 PM
Ran into a small minor problem and I was wondering if you know the cause.
One of the videos I have that seems to be:
Mp4 format, mp4a audio format.
(To be exact: the codec info on VLC player on my computer says -
Video Codec: H264 - MPEG-4 AVC
Audio Codec: MPEG AAC Audio (mp4a)

I'm not sure what it means.
But when played on AVPlayer HD or HD Player Pro, the audio is out of sync from the video by ~.5 - 1 second.

I saw your other review for mplayer and tried that and the sync is perfect but the playback seems to be a bit more stuttering/slowdown in some scenes than AVPlayer and HD Player.

I was just wondering if you knew the cause of this?
The video plays fine on my computer with no out of sync.

Menneisyys2
Mar 10, 2013, 05:26 PM
Mp4 format, mp4a audio format.

Does this mean they're .mp4 files? Then, AVPlayerHD defaults to hardware decoding, where I've never encountered lipsynch issues. Are you sure the "Enable H/W Decoder" switch is "ON" in the global Settings?

CrzyIcE
Mar 10, 2013, 06:09 PM
Does this mean they're .mp4 files? Then, AVPlayerHD defaults to hardware decoding, where I've never encountered lipsynch issues. Are you sure the "Enable H/W Decoder" switch is "ON" in the global Settings?

Yep, I believe they are .mp4 and Enable H/W Encoder is on.
It does seem kind of weird that I am having sync problems with this video. I haven't had this issue with other videos with AVPlayerHD.

edit: Could the resolution of the video or the hardware of ipad mini be affecting it? (reso is 1920 x 800, although file states to be 1080p).
Since mplayer seems to be able to play it without being out of sync, but it is stuttering/lagging on some scenes, maybe it is trading off?
I am not sure if that is how it works since I don't have much experience with video playback and stuff.

Menneisyys2
Mar 10, 2013, 06:53 PM
Yep, I believe they are .mp4 and Enable H/W Encoder is on.
It does seem kind of weird that I am having sync problems with this video. I haven't had this issue with other videos with AVPlayerHD.

edit: Could the resolution of the video or the hardware of ipad mini be affecting it? (reso is 1920 x 800, although file states to be 1080p).
Since mplayer seems to be able to play it without being out of sync, but it is stuttering/lagging on some scenes, maybe it is trading off?
I am not sure if that is how it works since I don't have much experience with video playback and stuff.

Strange - I think the file is somehow incompatible with the HW decoder and, therefore, the system silently switches to SW decoding; this is why you see stutters. (Stuttering would NEVER happen with HW decoding, assuming files with sensible bitrates - that is, well below 100 Mbps, where stutters would indeed occur.)

Can you make the video public (via, say, Dropbox) so that I can check it?

CrzyIcE
Mar 10, 2013, 06:57 PM
Strange - I think the file is somehow incompatible with the HW decoder and, therefore, the system silently switches to SW decoding; this is why you see stutters. (Stuttering would NEVER happen with HW decoding, assuming files with sensible bitrates - that is, well below 100 Mbps, where stutters would indeed occur.)

Can you make the video public (via, say, Dropbox) so that I can check it?

Hmm, the video is a bit large (it is a digital version of a movie that I own).
Would it be possible to clip a small section of it? or would that affect the results?

Menneisyys2
Mar 11, 2013, 05:17 AM
Hmm, the video is a bit large (it is a digital version of a movie that I own).
Would it be possible to clip a small section of it? or would that affect the results?

Sure, give a try to extracting a small clip. It's easily done via even the free version of QuickTime X. If it also shows desynch issues, feel free to send it over.

CrzyIcE
Mar 11, 2013, 12:02 PM
Sure, give a try to extracting a small clip. It's easily done via even the free version of QuickTime X. If it also shows desynch issues, feel free to send it over.

Is QuickTime X for Macs? I have Windows and the only one I see is QuickTime Player but the Trim option is greyed out for PRO upgrade users only.

The only video edit software I have ATM is windows movie maker but when I save the trim, it converts the movie to another format so I don't think that will work.

I will try to find another software to edit it.

Menneisyys2
Mar 11, 2013, 01:14 PM
Is QuickTime X for Macs? I have Windows and the only one I see is QuickTime Player but the Trim option is greyed out for PRO upgrade users only.

The only video edit software I have ATM is windows movie maker but when I save the trim, it converts the movie to another format so I don't think that will work.

I will try to find another software to edit it.

The free version is also capable of rudimentary cutting: go to a position you want your cut to end, select Edit / Split Clip, delete (select it and press the Delete key on the keyboard) the half you don't want to keep and File > Export. Make sure you (the default) select "Movie" as the type - it won't recompress the file, unlike other export formats.

CrzyIcE
Mar 11, 2013, 01:57 PM
The free version is also capable of rudimentary cutting: go to a position you want your cut to end, select Edit / Split Clip, delete (select it and press the Delete key on the keyboard) the half you don't want to keep and File > Export. Make sure you (the default) select "Movie" as the type - it won't recompress the file, unlike other export formats.

Not sure if this is significant but playing the video on quicktime has the same results as playing it on my ipad mini (and also tested on iphone 4s). They have the sync issues as well.

It is also very laggy as well and I can't seem to export the video.
The movie would come out exported but only the audio is exported and no video.

Menneisyys2
Mar 11, 2013, 02:19 PM
Not sure if this is significant but playing the video on quicktime has the same results as playing it on my ipad mini (and also tested on iphone 4s). They have the sync issues as well.

This means the source video itself isn't compatible with QuickTime. This means you won't really be able to play it back in any way using H/W decompression without, say, introducing a one-sec lag in the video itself on the desktop.

CrzyIcE
Mar 11, 2013, 05:41 PM
This means the source video itself isn't compatible with QuickTime. This means you won't really be able to play it back in any way using H/W decompression without, say, introducing a one-sec lag in the video itself on the desktop.

Hmm I see, does this have to do with the codecs available with QuickTime?
Since VLC player and Windows Player seem to play it fine.

Back to the ipad mini problem:
I might have some video editing software installed on my other computer back at home (which I won't have access to until I go back home in 2 weeks).
But I will try to get a section of the video in two weeks and I'll update you with the information.

Thanks again for the help.

Menneisyys2
Mar 12, 2013, 03:31 AM
Hmm I see, does this have to do with the codecs available with QuickTime?

It seems so.

Farplaner
Mar 12, 2013, 07:21 PM
I've been trying to get HD Player Pro the past couple days, but I couldn't find the app. Has it been pulled?

Menneisyys2
Mar 13, 2013, 04:12 AM
I've been trying to get HD Player Pro the past couple days, but I couldn't find the app. Has it been pulled?

It seems so. This time it surely wasn't Dolby as the devs have already removed AC-3 support. It may have been DTS, Inc. this time.

I'll mail the devs.

Farplaner
Mar 13, 2013, 09:01 AM
It seems so. This time it surely wasn't Dolby as the devs have already removed AC-3 support. It may have been DTS, Inc. this time.

I'll mail the devs.

Thanks, keep us posted :)

CrzyIcE
Mar 14, 2013, 10:34 AM
Hi,

I got another weird problem.
This video I got from someone else and its recognized as a .mp4, but it has DXVA encoded into it.
Because of this, AVPlayer HD and HD Player Pro can't play it successfully. It would auto stop the video at around 2 minutes while the audio will keep going.
The subtitles also does not seem to be recognized even though it is .srt and same name as the video.

Is there a way I can remove the DXVA from the video without losing quality through the conversion?

Menneisyys2
Mar 15, 2013, 06:47 AM
Hi,

I got another weird problem.
This video I got from someone else and its recognized as a .mp4, but it has DXVA encoded into it.
Because of this, AVPlayer HD and HD Player Pro can't play it successfully. It would auto stop the video at around 2 minutes while the audio will keep going.
The subtitles also does not seem to be recognized even though it is .srt and same name as the video.

Is there a way I can remove the DXVA from the video without losing quality through the conversion?

Yup, it's known to have compatibility problems: http://codecguide.com/faq_dxva.htm

Give a try to software-decoded mode to see whether it's any good. (These players try to play back mp4 files H/W decoded, which doesn't work with DXVA.) Just disable H/W decoding in Settings.

CrzyIcE
Mar 15, 2013, 07:14 PM
Yup, it's known to have compatibility problems: http://codecguide.com/faq_dxva.htm

Give a try to software-decoded mode to see whether it's any good. (These players try to play back mp4 files H/W decoded, which doesn't work with DXVA.) Just disable H/W decoding in Settings.

Nice, thanks!
Turned it off and it works great now.