Hi-Def video capabilities of the Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Ombatay, May 22, 2008.

  1. Ombatay macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2008
    So my girl loaned me her Air for the next few weeks (long story short: I have a huge, life-determining computer based exam coming up, so I need a computer for studying. Her computer is awesome, she's awesome, and my old windows laptop is well, old, and windows, and I need to study out of the house but my laptop's battery, well, is also old.)

    Now, before it sounds like I'm complaining, I'll first state that I love this thing, but I'm having trouble playing any of my 720p mkv files with it. Whether I'm hooked up to my external monitor or playing on the air by itself it just chugs. Gets about 15 seconds in and starts dropping frames left and right.

    Tried in VLC, no better. It plays DivX files ok, unless I output them to the external monitor, then those play pretty laggy. And I opened activity monitor, noticed that the 2nd core had shut down. Not to mention that this thing was scalding hot.

    So is this related to overheating alone, or is this due to bad video codecs? The thing is that my old tiny laptop, a 12" dell 700m with a 2.0 ghz pentium M, intel 855 graphics, and 1 gig of ram, could play those 720p files without a problem. It's 30 months old. This thing is 4 months old. I know it's ultra-portable, but so was that one, it'd be a huge shame if the 1.6 core 2 duo and x3100 graphics couldn't do better.

    2nd question: Will this happen with a macbook pro? I'd been planning on getting one around the fall for a while now, but a lot of my video collection is 720p-1080p, so I'd hate for that to be the case... I can't imagine it would.
  2. Ombatay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2008
    Oh, one more thing, I can, however, play 720p quicktime trailers off the apple website, which is what got me wondering if this was a codec issue and not a heat issue. Although those aren't 100% perfectly smooth, but they're watchable, and they're a helluva lot better than the mkvs (which are x.264). 1080p quicktime trailers aren't of watchable quality. Again quality of playback is pretty much on the level with my 700m, which is disappointing.
  3. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I can play them 1080p files without a hiccup.
  4. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    just for reference:
    my 24" imac with 2 gigs of ram and NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT has trouble with 720p MKVs too. i've tried everything-- VLC, mplayer OS X, quicktime + perian. the MKVs stutter, lag, and pop lots of errors with VLC. i've used VisualHub to convert the 720p MKVs to 720p MOV (using the AppleTV profile) and they play fine.

    maybe try that?
  5. Philflow macrumors 65816

    May 7, 2008
    If you can't find any solution I recommend running Windows XP SP3 in bootcamp.

    I am running XP SP3 on my Air and getting excellent results with 1080p mov, divx and wmv files, even on external displays. Haven't tried mkv though.

    I am undervolting with Rmclock.
  6. 0098386 Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    What, really? I've got a 2ghz C2D 1gb iMac and I can play 720p MKV without any problems at all. I just use VLC and 10.5.1.
  7. Ombatay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 26, 2008
    Well, I suppose the most logical conclusion is that it's a multifactorial problem. Both shoddy driver support and shoddy video performance on the MBA.

    VisualHub most likely won't be the ultimate solution, as the files I'm looking at are 1.07 GB a piece right now, and this thing gets scalding hot when transcoding video, maybe once I get the MBP... But that shouldn't have to be the solution.

    Anyone else have any experiences with driver implementations?

    Oh and why on earth does flip4mac "import" wmv files? Why can't it just play them like VLC or any other player does in windows? Is video codec support that bad on OS X, or do I just not know where to look? Trying to play a 300MB+ WMV file just crushes this poor little guy.
  8. maestrokev macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2007
    I used to have problems playing 720p and 1080 H.264 video but using avc1Decoder under Quicktime has improved considerably.
  9. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    yeah, i was confused too. seems like it should. maybe the MKVs are such a high bitrate for it.
  10. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I'd say heat could certainly be ONE factor (Macs will slow down if needed to prevent overheating). I've noticed that with games on my Air, when running on fabric so there's no circulation. You could try running on a hard surface, or even propping the back up a little.
  11. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I had to ask is why are you killing your girl's MBA? :p
  12. rom macrumors regular

    Jun 7, 2006
    I think it is the mkv encoding/decoding that is killing it. I always convert MKVs to Divx or mp4 using Visualhub (on the MBA, it is ok - no core shutdowns) and use VLC to view it.
  13. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    sorry to revive an old thread, but i found a solution for watching HD MKVs via VLC on my Imac which may help on the Air:

    For VLC:
    1. Open up Preferences
    2. Click the Advanced checkbox in the lower left corner
    3. Click “Input / Codecs”, Then “Other codecs”, ‘FFmpeg’
    4. Under “Skip the loop filter for H.264 decoding”, select “Non-Key”. By default “None” is selected.

    (If "Non-Key" doesn't work, "All" might work)
  14. kuribohbabylon macrumors member

    Jul 29, 2004
    Raleigh, NC
    I just tested with a couple of 720p H.264 mkv files that I have and my Air can play them like a champ. Only sits around 45-50% CPU (on both cores) during playback.

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