iPhone Life magazine

iMedia Player Re-released as MPlayer, Now with AC3 Support!

As I pointed out in my previous articleiMedia 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:



 

Pros



  • Official(!) AC3 support

  • Universal
  • 
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).

Cons



  • 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

.

 

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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.