nPlayer and VLC on iPad Air

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by PWR, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. PWR macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    #1
    Hello all

    I rip my DVD and Blu-Ray discs in their native coder formats to MKV files, and these reside on network storage. I use a Dune Smart media player (which will play anything I throw at it) for playback to the TV.

    I recently downloaded VLC for IOS (iPad Air) - and was delighted to discover that VLC would play some, though not the majority, of my ex-DVD MKV files streamed wirelessly over my home network. A large proportion of these DVD rips are old studio-originated dramas (576/50i) and classic films. Some files play perfectly, but most display a sort of pulsating blockiness and break-up. Dissolves, fast movement and high levels of fine detail cause the most problems for VLC (IOS) on these particular files. However, the desktop version of VLC has no trouble playing these files over wifi - and nor, of course, does the Dune player over wired LAN.

    This got me wondering what it was about these particular files that was causing problems with VLC on iPad. Being MPEG-2, they have to be decoded in software only … so was this an inadequacy in the MPEG-2 decoder in VLC, or was there something wrong with those particular rips? The issue seems to be related to a combination of high bit-rate and the type of GOP sequence employed, but despite posting on the VLC/IOS forum, no-one has yet come up with an answer…

    Then I bought nPlayer, which I had read very good reviews about, and - lo and behold - those troublesome DVD rips played fine, with not a trace of the blockiness! Now I can use the iPad to watch my entire DVD collection anywhere in the house, without having to go through the tedious process of transcoding to H264. I also have access to all of the subtitle tracks, and all the audio tracks (except DTS, of course). This is an excellent result.

    However, now that I have had experience of both VLC and nPlayer on the iPad, I thought I'd share my findings and opinions of these two players in the hope that it might be of interest to someone who wishes to use their iPad as I do...

    Personally - in terms of operation and user-interface - I much prefer VLC. Its major advantage is that you can switch audio and subtitle tracks 'on the fly' while playing a video, via independant icons on the menu overlay. With nPlayer, you have to engage the 'Settings' menu (which pauses playback) and then navigate to the Audio or Subtitle sub-menus. It is surprising how much of a nuisance this is. The design of VLC's GUI is less colourful than nPlayer's, using rather basic icons, but I rather prefer this unfussy and more conservative approach.

    Unfortunately, as I've stated, VLC doesn't properly play the majority of my (or anyone's, I would assume) MPEG-2 DVD-to-MKV rips - but those it does play, it reproduces better, in my opinion, than nPlayer. 576/50i material appears smoother on VLC than it does on nPlayer; and VLC's option not to de-interlace means that interlaced footage looks much more detailed, albeit with combing artifacts around motion. nPlayer's reproduction of 50i motion is noticeably less smooth (there's a mild but discernible 'judder'), and its lack of an option to switch de-interlacing off (at least, I couldn't find a way of defeating it) means that 50i standard definition video looks decidedly soggy. Further, if nPlayer maintains de-interlacing on progressively-shot but interlace-coded material (such as films on DVD) this is a serious flaw because this type of media benefits from not using the rather crude de-interlacing employed in tablets or mobiles if its full resolution and detail is to be displayed.

    Then I turned to my Blu-Ray MKV rips. The big surprise here was that VLC was able to cope with nearly everything I threw at it. A few files displayed some hesitancy and stuttering, and one (Hitchcock's "Vertigo") proved particularly difficult … but most played very fluidly and looked superb on the iPad Air. nPlayer, on the other hand, hesitated and stuttered on nearly all HD material, and usually crashed when I attempted to navigate along the timeline.

    From my perspective, then, VLC is potentially the superior player - if only it could address the problem of its playback of MPEG-2 DVD-to-MKV rips (it's not just MKV, actually: VOB files exhibit the same issues, so I suspect the MPEG-2 decoder is the problem). VLC for IOS needs to get this right if it is to match the reputation of its desktop cousin for being the "Swiss army knife" of video players. Also, VLC does not resume playback from the previously-watched point (over streaming - not tested on local media), which is definitely an oversight.

    I realise that some of my experiences with these two players run counter the excellent reports posted by Menneisyys2 on this forum, but I stress that these are subjective findings based on my particular set-up. All the videos were streamed wirelessly over FTP, and all were direct rips from DVD or Blu-Ray using MakeMKV for Mac. (I did, however, test a troublesome DVD as both an MKV and a VOB file directly imported into the VLC app, and still got blockiness and pixelation.) Neither have I given any consideration to factors such as power consumption, other supported file formats, alternative streaming protocols - indeed the wide-ranging and more scientific tests that Menneisyys2 has put many multimedia players through. The only conclusion I can come to is that, as someone who has only two mediaplayer apps on my iPad Air - VLC and nPlayer - if I want to watch my DVD collection I need to use nPlayer - although I'd prefer to use VLC.
     
  2. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Location:
    Scotland
    #2
    I use inFuse on both my iPads and jailbroken ATV2 and it plays everything I thrown at it to date, either copying local files to the iPads or streaming from my NAS
     
  3. PWR thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2014
    Location:
    Devon, UK
    #3
    Thanks, Crazy Badger. Yes, I've heard good reports of InFuse, but haven't seen any detailed technical reviews. Have you tried it with DVD (MPEG2) rips to MKV (no transcoding)?
     
  4. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Location:
    Scotland
    #4
    Probably, but I don't pay much attention to how my media is encoded so long as it plays, which it does with inFuse ;)
     
  5. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #5
    Please read my reports on Infuse in the local Infuse 2.0 announcement thread. I heartily recommend it if you want to stream MKV's over AirPlay.

    WRT your other questions, I've published (also here at MR; mostly here in the iPad Apps forum) tons of articles on both VLC, nPlayer and Blu-ray / DVD ripping.
     

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