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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Best Video Players For Android


I remember the days when the coolest cellphone was the smallest and most compact one and in the course of a few more years, out came PDAs; some with phone functionality and some as a personal assistant. The screens on those things were huge but they made for some very good multimedia players, something that carried into what we now term as Smartphones. Phones were again headed for an increase in screen size and a larger screen soon became sought after. Phones were soon judged by their screen quality and the ability to play videos. Today however, most smartphones have decent screens in terms of both side and resolution and furthermore, their CPU, GPU and RAM specs are also adequate enough for the job. So now the question isn’t which phone plays videos better but rather whichapp is able to play videos better than the other. Of course, a countless other questions arise, like, ‘which player will support 1080p playback?’ or ‘does this player support subtitles?’ or if you’re more aesthetically conscious, ‘which player has the best UI?’. In what follows, we will try and answer these questions and a few more, as we list down some of the best Android video player apps out there today.

Android-Video-Players

MX Player

Arguably the emperor of all players, MX Player is by far the most versatile and well known video player out there for Android. The latest MX Player v1.7 has brought about a new and powerful decoder called ‘hardware+’ in addition to the existing hardware decoder. In addition, it has introduced better support for Tegra 3 based devices as well. Perhaps the most notable new feature is the ability to play videos in the background, meaning the audio keeps playing even if you exit the app.
image image
MX Player, as expected, played almost every known format we threw at it, but surprisingly, it was unable to perform well playing a 1080p MKV or 1080p AVI file on a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean and the SGS 2 running ICS. But, throw a 1080p MP4 file in and voila, brilliant playback and video quality! Given the ease of setup, number of supported formats and the ability to download a decoder for your platform if required, it is understandable why this has been  the player of choice for many Android users.
An amazing feature is gesture control that eliminates the need for dragging tiny controls on the control bar for moving forward or backward, changing brightness and volume etc. as all that can be done simply by swiping your finger on the screen in specific directions.
image image
Pros:
  • Background play with controls in the notification menu.
  • Subtitles support.
  • Tegra 3 support.
  • Automatic codec downloads.
  • Swipe gesture controls.
Cons:
  • No DTS support.
  • No floating window.
For a complete review, check out our review of the new MX Player for Android.

QQ Player

QQ Player
This is the player that was able to handle that 1080p MKV format pretty well actually. Not as smooth as one would like but compared to MX Player, the video was pretty fast on QQ Player. I use the word fast because interestingly, MX Player seems to be trying to play every frame and with QQ Player, you can feel that the player is skipping frames occasionally to compensate for the performance, which for some may not seem that bad. Also, the quality seems to have been compromised on high-res videos.
QQ Player - List QQ Player - Settings
Performance aside, the UI is quite impressive with slight animated previews of the last video played. It also sports a Private List option where you can maintain a secret and protected playlist of your own. This can be good for your private or erhmm…confidential video collection. QQ Player supports gesture controls as well.
Pros:
  • Private File List.
  • Gesture controls.
  • Beautiful UI.
  • Screenshot support.
Cons:
  • No streaming function.
  • No background playback or floating window.

WonderShare

WonderShare
Primarily meant as a feature rich video streaming app, WonderShare Player will also play the locally stored media on your Android device. The app can stream high quality videos (including 1080p) from top video hosting sites such as YouTube, Hulu, Dailymotion, Vevo etc.
image image
As for the performance, the app struggled with a 1080p rmvb file, but then again, how many times do you come across that format? All in all, the video quality was very impressive, as was the support for the number of different video formats and resolutions, be it at 720p or 1080p.
Pros:
  • Ability to play DVD content with complete DVD menu navigation support.
  • Gesture controls.
  • Built-in web browser to stream video content from preferred online video streaming services.
  • Wide array of formats supported.
Cons:
  • Subtitles are missed at times.
  • No background playback.
  • No floating windows.
  • MKV and high resolution videos are not handled well enough.
  • DVD Menu support is questionable (didn’t work for us).
More on the app can be found at our review of Wondershare Player for Android.

Super Video

image
Looking for a floating video player for your large screen smartphone, phablet or tablet? I still remember the days when PIP in TVs was a huge wow. With Super Video, you can now run your videos in a floating pane, which you can consequently resize and drag to move anywhere on your homescreen. More? It streams videos from YouTube as well!
image image
The app itself has no video decoders built into it and as such supports only the formats that your device supports already. However, the player will determine if you need additional codecs or not depending on the video format you want to play.
Pros:
  • 3D media gallery.
  • Resizable floating windows.
Cons:
  • No background playback.
  • Adding more than two favorites requires the paid version.
  • No gesture controls
For more details, take a look at our review of Super Video for Android.

DicePlayer

Here’s another video player with a floating video. One of the interesting features of this one is the playback speed control, letting you slow down the video to 0.5x or speed it up to 1.5x (2x if using HW decoder). The app was able to handle a handful of popular video formats with exceptional video quality at higher resolutions. With an additional plugin, the app also supports Tegra 2 based devices.
Dice Player Dice Player Floating
Pros:
  • Excellent video quality.
  • Floating window.
  • Gesture controls.
  • Playback speed scaling.
  • Tegra 2 based devices support.
Cons:
  • No background playback.
  • Floating window isn’t resizable (preset sizes are available though).

Popcorn Player

image
Not the most suitable player for the advanced users, this one isn’t exactly the cream of the crop but don’t skip it just yet. Popcorn Player is a floating video player that also streams videos from the internet that are in MP4 and WebM formats. Furthermore, it supports multiple floating windows (the free version of the player is limited to two of them). The player lacks customizations and settings, which may not appeal to the frequent movie-holics, but the relative lack of settings here keeps the player nice and simple.
image image
Lack of support for some notable video formats and a native YouTube browser, no gesture controls, minimal control over video playback, and its inability to stream videos from other known online services (Dailymotion, Vimeo etc.) are some of the shortcomings of Popcorn Player that we’d love to see addressed in the coming updates. Also, it is only compatible with Android 3.0 and above so those of you still running Gingerbread or earlier are a no go on this one.
Pros:
  • Multiple resizable floating windows.
  • Decent array of supported formats.
Cons:
  • No gallery for online streaming.
  • Severe lack of settings and customizations.
  • No subtitles support.
  • No gesture controls.
  • No background playback.
See more about this app in our review of Popcorn Player for Android.

BS Player

BS Player Android
Playback speed scaling, pinch to zoom, screenshots, background audio playback, floating window, beautiful interface, you name it and it’s got it! BS Player is a well known player, but surprisingly so hasn’t been as popular as MX Player, MoboPlayer or QQ Player. The app handles everything except 1080p videos really well and supports a wide array of video formats.
Screenshot_2012-09-27-11-58-54 Screenshot_2012-09-27-11-57-31
Coming back to 1080p videos, we faced disappointment on the Galaxy Nexus whereas the SGS II held up pretty well. All in all, it is a beautiful player with lots of customizations to fiddle with, along with themes as well.
Pros:
  • Playback speed scaling.
  • Gesture controls.
  • Floating window.
  • Background playback.
  • Screenshot (Quick share).
Cons:
  • No playback controls in floating window.
  • Non-resizable floating window.

MoboPlayer

image
Featuring an awesome UI packaged with impressive customizations and video playback, MoboPlayer has been around for quite a while along with the big guns such as MX Player and QQ Player. This app needs no introduction other than the fact that it now supports a floating window too, which is also resizable.
image MoboPlayer-Android-Floating-Window
Pros:
  • Resizable floating window.
  • External video codecs available.
  • Built-in dual pane file explorer.
  • Gesture controls.
Cons:
  • May miss out audio on x264 MKV files.
  • No background playback.
  • No subtitles in windowed mode.
Read more in our review of MoboPlayer for Android.
Plenty of fish in the sea but not all can stand out. Writing all this up, I have to admit most Android video players offer more or less the same experience as the other video player and this can get really confusing for a lot of first time Android users. Though all of these are free, and so are you to try them out and decide which one suits you best. Please do let us know what you think about the apps listed here and do share with us your favorite video players in the comments below.
Do note that the apps were tested on a number of high end Android devices using high resolution videos, and the results varied from device to device. They may therefore differ for you from ours as well, based on the device you have.

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