iPhone Life magazine

Review: brand new, free(!) video player: QQPlayerHD

Several MacRumors forum members (see for example THIS thread – BTW, my first post there also contains an 1:2.35 movie playback screenshot) have asked me for my opinion on the recently released , free(!) QQPlayerHD (iTunes link).


(main file list dialog; the screenshot also shows the one and only menu available in the app. Click the image for the original-sized one.)

To make a long story short, it has one of the fastest software decoders: with ASP or WMV files, which require less CPU power than H.264 AVCHD ones, it's about as fast as the, currently, at 1080p, fastest software-only AVPlayerHD by EPLAYWORKS.Co.Ltd. AVCHD-wise (think of for example Full HD MKV playback), it's a little bit slower than  AVPlayerHD, but the difference is really small. I've also demonstrated the speed difference between the two apps in the following video (QQPlayerHD, running on the iPad 3, on the left; AVPlayerHD, running on the iPad 2, on the right):



The three test videos I used are

1, the 960*540 WMV test video HERE,
2, Monsters (1080p 10 Mbps H.264 AVCHD),
3, Big Buck Bunny 1080p AVI with plain MP4 (ASP) video stream,
in this order.
 
(Click the links to directly download these test videos!)

Problems

HOWEVER! It has some major problems. First and foremost, it doesn't support the Retina resolution of the (new, third-gen) iPad. This means you will want to prefer using this app on older-generation iPads, and, on the iPad 3, stick to Retina-capable apps (like  AVPlayerHD itself).

In addition, the second-biggest problem is the complete lack of hardware (HW) acceleration support. Almost every other multimedia players support HW-accelerated playback of MOV / M4V / MP4 files. Not so with  QQPlayerHD, which will still use its, compared to hardware decoding, pretty slow and stuttery decoder. This, however, will only affect you if and only if you try to play back  MOV / M4V / MP4 files. Then, you absolutely must use some other, HW-capable player. Just some of them: PlugPlayer, 8player, AcePlayer, TopPlayer(HD) on A5 CPU's, ProPlayer, HD Player Pro (in this, it's disabled by default, must be enabled in Settings („Hardware accelerate” at the top)), Play Any Video Format - PlayerX HD, OPlayer (HD) by olimsoft (also disabled by default, enable: Settings / Plugin / Use QuickTime)), GPlayer by Ginkgo Tech, BUZZ Player HD by BUGUN Software, GoodReader, Movie Player – Plays any Video! by Dominic Rodemer (only on A5 CPU's), Azul Media Player - Video player for your iPad By Gplex, AVPlayerHD (of course), GoodPlayer (HW disabled by default; Settings / Plugin Setting / iPod), yxplayer by mobilesoft.kr, CineXPlayer – The best way to enjoy your Xvid movies by NXP Software B.V., EC Player, RushPlayer, flex:player. You can find the entire list of them in the work-in-progress chart of my forthcoming iOS Multimedia bible, in the “Hardware playback?” row of the “MP4/M4V/MOV Container support” group. By the way, the chart now also contains the test results / feature list of QQPlayerHD. (Make sure you use OpenOffice - or anything compatible - to open it!)

 

Note that the list doesn't contain titles that, while having HW-accelerated M4V playback, still produce stuttering results on all platforms (currently, “It's Playing” belongs to this category). Players that play HW-decoding-friendly formats flawlessly on the latest-generation CPU's (A5(X)) but don't do the same on previous-generation ones (A4) are listed with the A5 vs. A4 difference warning supplied as a remark. (Do NOT try using these apps on A4-based models like the iPhone 4, iPod touch 4 or iPad 1!) Also, I've provided information on enabling HW playback on titles in which it's disabled by default (even one of the best players, GoodPlayer, comes with disabled acceleration.)

Also conditional is the next problem: the poor audio / video / container / subtitle format support and the poor fail safeness. For example, it doesn't support MTS, TS, OGG containers at all, Ogg Vorbis audio tracks found in many (mainly anime) MKV's like THIS standardized test one, flawless ASS playback etc. However, if you only stick with the formats it supports (e.g., full HD AVI's), this problem won't cause your headaches.

Speaking of  fail safeness, when loading, upon encountering a file it, for some reason, can't process, the app has a tendency to immediately crash (exit). An example of these files is THIS resolution chart testvideo (more on its creation HERE), which does work with almost all the other players. If you encounter immediate crashes upon loading the app, try removing the files you've just added and restarting the app until it starts without problems.

It has almost no features either: no file list sorting, no folders, no password protection, no network streaming, no nothing. Nevertheless, most other, free players don't offer many features either – except for the absolutely king, jailbreak-only player, XBMC, of course.

Verdict

If you absolutely don't want to pay (not even $3 for AVPlayerHD) for your video player and you absolutely must play back videos belonging to the “software decoding-only” category (NOT MOV's, MP4's, M4V's and the like), it's probably the best choice, particularly if you don't have an iPad 3. Used on an iPad 1/2, the (really annoying) lack of Retina support won't be an issue.

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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.