iPhone Life magazine

Review: why don't I recommend the multimedia (video) player FlexPlayer at all? (+ other multimedia news & freebies)

The free FlexPlayer (AppStore link) has received a major update yesterday:



(click the thumbnail image for the original one)

As I generally re-review previous reviewed / mentioned apps when new, major upgrades are released, I started testing the new version right away, only to find out it was quickly pulled by the developers and the old version restored:

 

Nevertheless, having already been in the process or testing and reviewing the app, I've decided to publish my review of the currently available (now: 2.0.1) version, which, as you can also see in the just-shown screenshot, is basically the same as was before the 2.0.0 update - a version I haven't never particularly liked (and in no way recommended; see for example my post HERE on May 10, 2012 5:38 AM).

Why should you stay away from it? (Again, this all describes the currently available, 2.0.1 release; hopefully the vastly enhanced version is released some time; then I'll also post an update to the article.) Unfortunately,


- its MSMPEG-4 support is abysmal – of the Buck Bunny 1080p MSMPEG-4 AVI video (also part of my standard test video library), not a single frame(!) is shown, while several other players play back the same video without almost any stuttering. (My quick list of them is HERE)

- unfortunately, the H.264 decoder isn't at all better either. Only the first frame is shown of the standard Monsters video  encoded at 1080p using H.264 in a MKV container. The same stands for other 1080p content in other non-Apple-friendly (that is, non-MOV / M4V / MP4) containers. Unfortunately, even low-bitrate 720p content stutters badly (for example, the standard Harry Potter test video encoded at no more than  600kbps). OGG is only slightly better: at least some other frames are shown of 1080p videos in an OGG container... Most of the commercial and even some free video player apps play these files (which use common formats and bitrates) much better.

In addition,

- it doesn't support embedded subtitles or audio track selection

- there is absolutely no support for FLAC, APE, WMA etc. audio files (supported by most other players, even free ones) support, ASS subtitles (see the standard Suzumiya test video), runtime DSP features like audio / brightness / saturation boosting (see THIS for some sample shots of why they're great) etc.

All in all, I don't recommend this player. While I certainly like free software, I need to point out that there're much better free alternatives; for example, QQPlayer(HD) (latest article HERE), which is far superior unless you plan to play back Apple-friendly (that is, MOV / M4V / MP4) or MPEG2 TS files in it. (In those particular cases, QQPlayer(HD) in no way should be preferred.)

Other multimedia news

The two screenshots above also show the updates other multimedia players have received in the last two days. As you can see,

- the highly recommended GoodPlayer has received some minor bugfixes while playing back video using hardware decoding (don't think of anything groundbreaking, though);

- for playing back MP4 / MOV / M4V's over SMB streaming, the - because it supports hardware decoding over these connections (unlike all the other players) - most(!) recommended eXPlayer HD has received some streaming bugfixes

- the developer of AcePlayer (which, BTW, is pretty average player) has made his UPnP server software, AirAV (iTunes link), free. For free, it's certainly worth getting it - after all, most other UPnP servers or multimedia apps also having UPnP server modes (PlugPlayer, BUZZ Player HD by BUGUN Software) are commercial - you need to jailbreak to gain access to free UPnP servers like (the excellent multimedia player) XBMC, ITunesDB UPnPAVServer - IntelligentShare etc. Also free is their AceMusic, which is a music player with broad standard and streaming support (and is also capable of playing back Apple-friendly MP4 / MOV / M4V videos). Definitely worth getting for free!

UPDATE (08/01/2012): The new (2.0.3) version is much better than the previous ones reviewed above. Please see THIS.

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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.