Over at MacRumors (thread), I've been asked to compile a list of players that can vertically stretch a video so that it entirely fills the iPad's screen. During this, it does sacrifice the right aspect ratio and does distort the image. However, at least it doesn't cut off the sides.
Here's a 16:9 movie (my well-known resolution chart video available for download HERE) not filling in the (much taller) screen vertically in the built-in stock Videos app:
(as with all the other screenshots in this article, click for the original!)
The Videos app can't stretch. When you tap the zoom icon in it, all it does is zooming in. This, while does keep the original aspect ratio (and, consequently, doesn't distort the picture), chops off the left and right part of the video as is shown in the next screenshot:
Now, let's take a look at how for example MoliPlayer Pro (one of the many apps capable of true stretching) does this; now, with stretching enabled:
(Also note that the playback is utilizing the hardware acceleration – hence the “HW” icon in the upper right part of the screen. Unfortunately, as opposed to MoliPlayer, some players while providing stretching capabilities in software-decoding mode, fail to do the same in hardware accelerated mode. More on this later.)
Note that this also applies to
- vertically stretching non-16:9, for example, even shallower (e.g., 1:2.39 (aka 1:2.35)) movies to fill in the entire screen
- horizontally (!) stretching but taller-than-16:9 (e.g., 4:3) movies on the iPhone 5 / iPod touch 5 so that they fill the entire screen without cropping. This can prove very useful if you prefer watching old movies. (For example, all the old (over 40 years) Finnish movies I've seen are 4:3.) This all means my remarks are, generally, true with horizontal stretching of narrower videos on current 16:9 hardware.
When is this useful?
Everywhere where you just can't get closer to your iPad but need to see (recognize) as much as possible. A very common scenario continuously happening to me (and the wife / relatives) is watching something on the iPad while in the traditional sauna (infrasaunas, as opposed to the high-temp Finnish ones, don't suffer from this problem. There, in most cases, you can safely take your iPad with you and use it all the time.). I can't get the iPad in my hands (obviously) because of the heat – I need to leave it on the ground and watch afar. This, however, means I won't see much of a 16:9 (or even shallower) image. Then, stretching the image to 4:3 to fill in the entire screen is a god-send.
The players supporting stretching
As has already been explained, you'll need to use third-party players as the built-in one doesn't support stretching (with distorting) at all. This also means you won't be able to watch stretched copy-protected (DRM'ed) movies you've purchased from iTunes Store at all. After all, no (non-jailbroken) third-party apps are allowed to play back DRM'ed movies.
There are three sections below. You'll want to select a title from the first one if you plan to play back your videos hardware accelerated. If you don't (you have videos in a non-iOS-native container like MKV or MTS; or, the format of the video track itself is, say, VC-1 and not h.264), the titles listed in the second section will do fine, too.
Note that I've, in parentheses, also listed the way you can make a certain player fill the screen (on an iPad). This means that, as usual, this roundup can also considered to be at least 20-30 separate mini-article titled “This is how you can enable screen filling in player X”. Nothing can beat the information content of my roundups, can it? ;-)
Section 1: Both in hardware accelerated and software decoding mode:
nPlayer (stacked pages icon in the lower right corner; tap until „Fill” is displayed in the center of the screen)
Media Player PRO (was: Movie Player HD+) (tap the upper right icon until it becomes two arrows pointing to the corners of the square)
all (even free ones) versions of MoliPlayer (leftmost icon on the main control bar)
TTPlayerHD (upper right icon; tap until you see „Screen Resize – Full”)
LuberPlayerHD (leftmost icon on main control bar)
Playable (last-but-one icon on the top right)
TopPlayerHD (upper right icon)
ProPlayer (double tap)
AVPlayerHD (top right icon)
XBMC (Film roll icon (fourth from the right) > View Mode (set it to Stretch 4:3))
AnyPlayerHD (upper right icon)
Section 2: Only in software-decoded mode (as, in HW accelerated mode, they use the system-wide controller):
AcePlayer (by using 4:3 aspect ratio)
Oplayer HD (third icon from the left on the main control bar; select „4:3”)
GPlayer (by using 4:3 aspect ratio under the rightmost text icon on the main control bar > Aspect Ratio)
eXPlayer („A” icon (last-but-one on the right) > 4:3)
GoodPlayer (Settings / Aspect Ratio, set to 4:3)
Section 3: Absolutely no support for screen filling (these you'll want to skip):
stock Videos app
VLC (AppStore + Cydia 1.1.1)
Falcon Player and Downloader Pro for iPad
VM Player HD
HD Player Pro
Play Any Video Format - PlayerX HD
BUZZ Player HD
Movie Player – Plays any Video! by Dominic Rodemer
Azul Media Player - Video player for your iPad By Gplex
CineXPlayer – The best way to enjoy your Xvid movies by NXP Software B.V.
What about “It's Playing”?
I consider “It's Playing” the best all-in-one media player on iOS, only beaten by some other players in some specialized areas like WMV streaming (dedicated roundup).
The current version (3.8.1) available in AppStore, unfortunately, doesn't support stretching. However, the developers have already implemented filling in their closed beta version. Let me present you two screenshots of the (internal) version already supporting screen fill:
(it's here (see the annotation by a red rectangle) that you'll need to activate fill. Note that this option is still not present the official version.)
(and the results are properly stretched vertically)