iPhone Life magazine

iPad-Only CineXPlayer 4.01 Released; Adds TV Directory

While I don't really consider it one of the best players out there, the generic multimedia player CineXPlayer is still pretty popular with folks. This is why I'm constantly asked by my readers to review the updated versions whenever they come out. While I do not recommend this player over nPlayer or AVPlayerHD, only check it out if you can/want to make use of its Dolby Digital features, built-in Web browser, or TV station directory. As a standalone video player, it's considerably weaker than nPlayer or AVPlayerHD.

Note that there are two versions of the app, both called HD. There is only a one-character difference between their names: the iPad-only version (AppStore link; $3.99) is called CineXPlayer HD – The best way to enjoy your movies” (with a hyphen), while the iPhone/iPod touch version (AppStore link; $1.99) is named CineXPlayer HD = The best way to enjoy your movies” (with an equation mark instead of the hyphen). 

Pay special attention to this to avoid paying for the wrong one for your device. 

The old trend continues: the small-screen version is definitely lagging behind the iPad one. Last year, it took two months for the iPhone version to receive the 3.x goodies (Dec. 18, 2012, while the iPad version was released Oct. 22, 2012), the iPhone users may also need to wait months to get the newly-introduced new and, currently, iPad-only features of the app.

AppStore update shot

Unfortunately, most of the problems I've elaborated on in my last reviews (links above) are still typical. It seems it's only the lack of Retina support (the biggest single problem on iPads) has been fixed. MKV playback is as stuttering as it used to be. You definitely will not want to use this player for MKV playback, not even on the fastest iDevices (iPad 4, iPhone 5), let alone slower ones like the iPad mini, 3, or the iPhone 4S.

Unfortunately, it hasn't received DTS support either. This is certainly bad news as back in October the developers promised they'd license DTS as well. With the recent removal of DTS from top players (AVPlayer, It's Playing, nPlayer etc.), it has become increasingly hard to play back videos with DTS audio.

TV Directory

The most important new feature of the new 4.x series is the in-built TV station directory. It's in no way as extensive as that of, say, wwitv.com (or some local stream link directories) but, if it already does contain your favorite station(s), you may well want to use CineXPlayer for playback instead of adding them one-by-one to other generic media players like GoodPlayer (see my WMV streaming bible HERE, where I've elaborated on using this player for WMV/ASF streaming).

For example, this is the German section, listing most major national TV streams:



All those links proved to be working.

Note that most other countries have, as has already been mentioned, far fewer directory entries than over at wwitv. That is, if you don't find a given stream here, you might want to check out wwitv to see whether for the link. Of course, you'll still need to add that link to a player that can play back that stream. Again, you'll want to consult my WMV/ASF streaming bible for more info on this.

Verdict

I do have doubts when it comes to this player. Unlike in late 2012 where this player was the only one to officially license AC3 audio, the situation is far-far better now, with the developers of some of the top players (most importantly, nPlayer and AVPlayer(HD)) having made a deal with the Dolby folks and having re-introduced AC3 support in their players. After all, it was because of the AC3 support that I recommended this player. I, however, don't do this any more: nPlayer and AVPlayer(HD) are much better generic players with much higher stability, reliability and last but not least, performance. Those two players are just orders of magnitude better at MKV playback – something that CineXPlayer boasts but fails to properly deliver.

Basically, if you want an easy-to-use TV station receiver and the player already has the links to your favorite station, you might want to go for it. Also, if you can make use of the Dolby audio technologies it supports, it might be a decent choice for us. Unfortunately, the other technology it boasts, SuperSharp, is more of a pretty useless gimmick and should, in my opinion, be left disabled.

Pros, Cons, and Benchmark Videos I've Shot

Pros

  • Lack of Retina support fixed;
  • Easy-to-use TV streaming directory (albeit with relatively few titles);
  • Streaming TV is streamed to external displays at 1080p, unlike local MKV's, which top at 720p;
  • Doesn't use overscanning with TV out, unlike most other players.


Cons

  • Still much more stuttering while playing back MKV's in hardware than most of the hardware-assisted MKV players (AVPlayerHD, nPlayer etc.);
  • If you zoom into subtitles, they will, after a certain zooming threshold, be cut in half as the maximal height of the subtitles is two rows only. nPlayer handles zooming much better, making it easy to read subs from even metres away (while, say, in the sauna where you can't take your iPad up to the heat but need to leave it on the ground). I've also shown this effect at 0:15 in one of my benchmark demos at http://youtu.be/u7gKnYtGO14;
  • While it supports TV out, it only uses 720p for playback of MKVs;
  • Very often freezes in the filelist view (on a non-jailbroken, 6.1.3-based iPad 3, that is, it surely is the fault of the player and not that of some tweak);
  • No DTS;
  • Lipsynch problems with the standardized Harry Potter video;
  • Still no Vorbis audio support (Suzumiya).

Benchmark Videos

Playback of THIS 1080p benchmark test video, part of my standardized AAC + AC3 MKV / M4V test suite: http://youtu.be/c88LdRaDLyg;

Monsters (with yesterday's AC3 + AAC version with an external subtitle file): http://youtu.be/u7gKnYtGO14;

A quick recording of streaming the German channel 3Sat; this shows there is indeed no scaling: http://youtu.be/fB02rTR6nTw.

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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.