Review: video player EC Player updated

Today, EC Player (AppStore link) received an update without any update description. Just compare the update notes of the following screenshot (showing version 1.34) to that of the previous one HERE (of version 1.33):

I've quickly tested the player to find out the changes (if any) to see whether it was just a mistake on the developer's part not to publish anything or the new version indeed doesn't have anything. (Except for, maybe, dropped Dolby technologies – several players have silently dropped Dolby support, without warning their users.)

As has turned out, there isn't any real improvement: the player is still in the “best to avoid” category:

- no 16:9 (iPhone 5 / iPod touch 5) screen support

- still VERY prone to crashes: on my freshly hard reset, absolutely clean iPhone 5, for example, of the standardized MKV test video suite I use (Monsters, Harry Potter, Suzumiya, Birds), Monsters and Suzumiya immediately crashed the player; the latter probably because of the Vorbis audio track. The playback of the two other videos wasn't flawless either: resuming a previous playback position often resulted in no image being shown. (Resuming playback from the start worked in all cases.)

- MKV audio transcoding, when needed, results in awful audio quality. They use 69kbps transcoded AAC streams, which only delivers good audio quality with decent(ly parametrized) transcoders. Not with EC Player: the audio track of for example THIS (a 109 Mbyte download!) test video must be converted because it's DTS, which the iOS engine can't play back. The results of the behind-the-curtains DTS → AAC reencoding, however, results in really bad-sounding audio. (Give it a try! Also pay attention to how long the dark-screen pauses are!)

- the audio of MKV's with both AC3 and a playable (or at least reencodeable like DTS) audio track (example file; dedicated article) is refused to be played back. This is a MAJOR flaw!

- visually, the hiccups every ten seconds (the player uses 10-second chunks of videos for behind-the-curtains remuxing for hardware-assisted playback) are very distracting, even on a very fast iDevice like the iPhone 5. Most other hardware MKV players (It's Playing; BUZZ Player; HD Player Pro etc.; let alone the jailbreak ones: XBMC and RushPlayer+) have far-far better performance and less annoying artefacts - and iPhone 5 screen aspect ratio support etc..

All in all: don't bother. This player certainly isn't worth the price.

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<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>