VideoLAN’s VLC Media Player is renowned for its playback capability. iTunes, QuickTime, Windows Media Player – all of these clients have one thing in common: they don’t support everything out of box, or require extra codecs or even a bit of hacking. That’s where VLC comes in. And now it’s out for the iPad, thanks to a porting from Applidium.
This is very big news. The iPad is, honestly, heavily limited in what filetypes it supports. AVI, MKV, DIVX – none work. Which is why I was surprised to see Apple accept VLC, because it not only supports all of these file formats, but a whole lot more too. It has the power to shape the uses of an iPad for the better.
The design of VLC is clean, with the home screen providing a bookshelf-style directory of all videos, as well as a snapshot preview of each one along with its name, size, length and resolution. One handy feature worth noting is an in-built timer pie, that shows how much you’ve watched of that particular video without having to go in manually. Videos can be deleted straight from the application – a nice touch if you need to free up some space on-the-go.
The interface for actual videos is equally clean: up top you’ll find a time scroller bar that moves forward as the video plays, as well as a downward timer to let you know exactly how long’s left. All the control options are to be found at the bottom of the screen, namely: play/pause, volume adjustment, AirPlay. In addition, the application has implemented two “minute movers” – a button to rewind a minute and one to fast forward, although these are somewhat redundant given the time scroller bar up top. All of these controls can be hidden within a single tap, leaving nothing – not even a watermark – on the screen except for your video. That’s the way it should be.
Drawbacks? The biggest problem, from my tests, is its lack of full 720p and 1080p support: VLC recognizes the video, but given the iPad’s 1024×768 resolution (720p is 1280×720), the A4 processor just can’t keep up. HD MKV content? Not possible to watch. This is very disappointing, given VLC’s .mkv playback capability. Other content worked fine, like AVI files with the XVID codec.
In conclusion, my reactions to VLC are mixed. The application’s design is solid and its playback capability vast, but the insufficiency of the iPad when it comes to .mkv playback is a very real hindrance to the application’s overall performance, particularly to those who are interested in watching high-quality downloaded content. Nonetheless, VLC is free to download and it does support more than Apple’s Video application – something’s always better than nothing.
Tagged with: applidium, avi, divx, free, mkv, mp4, video, vlc, xvid