As I pointed out in my previous article, iMedia Player is an excellent free multimedia player. And now its developers have announced the debut of a separate, commercial app, MPlayer ($2.99) officially licensing the (E-)AC3 audio codec.
The image above displays MPlayer’s App Store description as it installs on my iPad upon purchase.
When you play a video file with AC3 audio in the old iMedia Player, it takes you to the new player in the App Store:
The screenshot above shows the dialog box taking you to the new, AC3-friendly app in the App Store. The background shows the biggest problem of both apps: the lack of Retina support. Here I try to play back my resolution tester MKV file with AC3 audio.
MPlayer 1.0 and the newly-released iMedia Player 2.0 update are essentially the same, except MPlayer is not ad-supported and, of course, supports AC3 audio. This means the pros/cons lists are the same for both apps (with the exception of AC3 support).
So, would I recommend MPlayer over AVPlayerHD ($2.99), the other player that officially supports AC3? For an App Store purchase — that is, a non-jailbroken player — of course. For jailbroken devices, I highly recommend RushPlayer+ ($2.99) and XBMC (Free). Just keep in mind that XBMC has a bit of a lower-quality H.264/WMV/MKV decoder than the best titles out there, as has also been proved HERE.
MPlayer can prove handy in the following situations: If you don't have a Retina device (anything newer than an iPhone 3GS, a 3rd-generation iPod touch, an iPad 2, not counting in the non-Retina iPad mini); you don't want to play back any video in software; you don't plan to play back high-resolution videos; you need SMB streaming or HTTP streaming/access/download, which AVPlayerHD entirely lacks. Otherwise, MPlayer and AVPlayerHD are pretty comparable.
Following is the list of pros and cons of MPlayer/iMedia Player, minus the AC3 support:
- Official(!) AC3 support
- Playlist support
- Excellent H.264 decoder – the player can be used to play back even 1080p MKV videos on current, high-end hardware (iPhone 5 and iPad 4)
- Very fast and compatible WMV decoder (no WMA Pro audio support, though)
- Gesture-based ffwd / rewind support (20 secs in both directions; unfortunately, can't be configured)
- DTS support
- Absolutely flawless MPEG-2 1080i60 TS (for example, direct ATSC TV recordings) playback (no scrubbing / subtitle support, though)
- Passcode lock support
- Support for mp3 / ogg audio tracks
- Audio file playback-wise, WMA (but no WMA Pro!), FLAC, APE and WAV audio too (no WV or OGA files, though)
- If you have a small-screen devices as well as an iPad, MPlayer may be a better choice than AVPlayer because you'll only need to pay once (the player is universal).
- The biggest con is it doesn’t offer Retina support for both small-screen devices and the iPad 3/4 while software decoding (no such problem with HW-decoded, that is, iOS-native videos) ;
- Any time you need software decoding of high-resolution videos, the resolution will greatly suffer on anything Retina. In this regard, AVPlayer and AVPlayerHD are far better. Also, they lead in their MKV and the newly-enhanced FTP support (MPlayer doesn't support MKV playback in hardware).
- No CC support in native videos (albeit they're played back in hardware);
- No full SSA subtitle support (only simple textual subs are supported);
- Pretty weak DVB TS support (no scrubbing support, doesn't detect 16:9 videos (renders everything in 4:3), while it renders DVB subtitles, it shows them over ugly background);
- Interlaced fields are merged in a very ugly way when there's a lot of movement in the frame;
- No filelist sorting;
- No metadata display .