By Werner Ruotsalainen on Mon, 01/06/2014
In many of my older articles (like this one), I've praised BUZZ Player. ($3.99) and BUZZ Player HD. ($3.99). Up until 4.0.2, which royally messed up the player's MKV playback capabilities, making it one of the worst choices for MKV playback.
(A quick note: note the full stop after the name of both the iPhone and the iPad-specific apps. I've explained the cause for this seemingly amusing name HERE.)
In the meantime, newcomers to the iOS multimedia player scene, nPlayer ($4.99; read my latest review) have become the most important “go to” player for everyone looking for MKV playback and not wanting to play back DTS audio.
Since 4.0.2, BUZZ Player (HD). has slowly and steadily become better and better. As of 4.1.0 (released early 2013), it regained DTS audio and, with series 5 (late 2013), also AC3 audio. (DTS and AC3 are almost exclusively the format of audio tracks in MKV files – even of those you save from your Blu-Ray discs youself, with MakeMKV, the de facto DVD and Blu-Ray rip utility.) 5.0.2 has been released recently:
Unfortunately, apart from the complete lack of AC3 support, the MKV support of 4.1.0 was still full of bugs. For example, it's still unable to even start playing back an MKV file with an AAC audio track in it. As has already been hinted on, series 5 turned out to be much more MKV-compliant than the previous one. It no longer refuses to play back MKV files with AAC audio and, even more important, it reintroduced AC3 audio. In addition, its DTS MKV playback is certainly more fluid than that of VLC, CineXPlayer, or the jailbreak-only RushPlayer+.
Unfortunately, it has also introduced a major bug not present in series 4: lack of Retina screen support on both iPhones, iPod touch devices, and iPads.
On the former, MKV's are played back using low resolution on Retina devices (iPhone4+, iPod touch 4+), rendering the resolution just plain awful. An example showing the playback screen of the standard ISO 12233 test chart in an MKV container:
(Click for the original-sized image should you really want to be able to compare the demonstrated resolution difference. They aren't really conveyed with size- and quality-reduced thumbnails.)
Fortunately, BUZZ Player. has no such problems with iOS-native files (MP4, MOV, M4V). With them, it looks as it should (read: high-resolution):
Unfortunately, the iPad version is even worse. It just doesn't make use of the Retina screen. Everything is scaled down to XGA resolution—even iOS-native video files. Obviously this isn't a problem on a non-Retina iPad (iPad 1, 2, and the first iPad Mini), but it is on a Retina one. This is how it renders anything:
4.1.0 has no such problems. That is, it renders in high-resolution:
- on iPads, everything
- on iPhones, not only native files (MP4, MOV, M4V), but also MKV's.
An example of this:
Similarly, on small-screen devices, MKV playback is also flawless under the old, 4.x series—unlike with the new.
Of course, as has been previously explained, it can only play back MKV's with DTS audio but nothing else—no AAC, no AC3. However, as has been explained above, if you only want to play back DTS MKV's, it's considerably a better choice than the very few other MKV-capable players. I've contacted the developer about these issues. I don't have high hopes for an answer though, given that he has not responded to my previous email, sent immediately after finding 4.0.2 practically useless.
Still Image Support
In THIS article, I've explained in which cases you will find the still image support of this player indispensable, particularly if you jailbreak and want to quickly review images on external storage. The native image support of iFile (the best jailbreak file handler tool) is very bad; this player has, on the other hand, pretty good still image support. And this has been greatly enhanced in 5.0.2.
As you can see in the screenshots of my just-linked article, previous versions have had adequate image controls—but in no way did they allow for generating and displaying thumbnails of them, something the stock Photos app has always done greatly on iOS. A screenshot of the image handler of 4.1.0:
As you can see, it's basically the same as that of 4.0, released and reviewed in September 2012.
And this is what the newly released 5.0.2 looks like (note the thumbnail quick selector widget at the bottom and the thumbnail-full size switcher in the top right corner):
Note that the screen resolution problems don't apply to still mode, which can easily be seen if you simply compare the legibility, pixelization, etc. of the two screenshots above. They show the original image being rendered at exactly the same resolution.
This is the brand-new thumbnail mode, after enabling it using the top right icon:
All in all, if you jailbreak and often need to review still images, particularly on external media, and aren't afraid of symlinks, you will enjoy the new player a LOT.
If you still have 4.x.x and only play back MKV's with DTS audio and have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with a Retina screen, don't upgrade. You will also want to stick with the old version if you watch iOS-native files with the player and have a Retina iPad. If, on the other hand, you have a low-resolution device or all you want is to watch iOS-native files on your iPhone or iPod touch (but not the iPad!), it's worth upgrading—the MKV engine of the new series is considerably better.
Also, if your device is jailbroken and you need a really decent image viewer for images anywhere in the file system, even on an external storage card or USB memory stick mapped to the Documents folder of the player, you'll want to go for this player and certainly upgrade. The image support is orders of magnitude better.