OK — You just got that new smartphone or tablet you’ve been itching for, and aside from all the productivity apps and whatnot, you want an application that will play back all mobile video. No problem. That’s already built in. So what’s this about bothering with another mobile video player?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUILT IN MOBILE VIDEO PLAYERS
Actually, nothing is ‘wrong’ with them, but just like special video players for computers, people want features that may not be included in the stock edition on their mobile phone. Some of the more commonly desired enrichments include:
- Playback of video formats not natively supported
- More elaborate interface providing extra information about the video
- Additional swipe and gesture controls
- Better media management of video playlists and libraries
- Preferences for video and audio enhancement
- Social network connection in real-time
The greatest demand is that people simply want to play videos from their personal libraries in formats on their mobile device that aren’t compatible with the native mobile player. That content could be run through a converter to create a compatible version, then be transferred to the mobile device. However, installing a third party player on the mobile device to play the original video format is preferred by many, and it can also bring other valuable improvements.
|Mobile Media Maestro|
The RealPlayer Android app does more than just play videos, you can also use it to play music and create slideshows from your photos on your phone. Better yet, it keeps all your media in one place on your phone.
MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS
Although in many ways they perform as tiny computers, these small mobile devices require different operating system software at their core. Special CPUs, limited power and memory constraints also come into play, making it essential to design mobile video players from the ground up. Video consumes a lot of power and puts huge stress on the CPU and graphics capabilities of the device, so both the content and the mobile video player itself must be optimized to work together.
The main operating systems currently in the market are the Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian and the RIM BlackBerry OS. With Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia, Symbian is expected to be phased out and replaced with the Windows Phone OS around the world. Although each mobile OS has video playback capability, we’re focusing on Android and iOS, as they represent the fastest-growing and most innovative smartphone and tablet products being developed, and where you’ll have the most choices in selecting a mobile video player to your liking.
Even with all the different mobile operating systems, the MP4 video format using the H.264 codec seems to be a favorite. H.264 is very efficient and capable of generating high quality (up to 1080p/30fps) video content at bit rates that can be more easily tolerated by the smartphone or tablet.
MOBILE VIDEO PLAYERS
With the mobile market overall growing at an astounding rate worldwide, and because all mobile video content is a prime catalyst, it’s not surprising that developers of third-party mobile video players are rushing in to the space. A few of the top mobile video players (listed by OS) are:
- Act 1 Video Player, mVideoPlayer, MX Video Player, Plex, RealPlayer Android, VPlayer
- Azul Media Player, CineXPlayer, It’s Playing, VLC
These and many other mobile video players are available either from the Android Market or Apple App Store. You can search, review and download directly through your mobile device and starting using immediately. Depending on the product you select, you should be able to play nearly every video file format including; AVI, MPEG-2, MP4, WMV, DIVX, XVID, MOV, FLV and others. For users who watch a lot of video, an MP4 player is practically a requirement. Choosing an MP4 player is easy, even for a video novice.
As with video players for computers, these mobile apps are available for free, or a modest cost. There are also add-on codec packs for specific video formats from many of the developers.
FINDING THE RIGHT MOBILE VIDEO PLAYER
Here’s where you have to do some work of your own. Since none of these apps are expensive, you can experiment quite a bit, even with the so-called ‘Pro’ versions of these mobile video players without much of an investment. If your main objective is to play non-native formats, test that playback first. If you are getting what you want, then the user interface is the next feature to evaluate. Is it easy to navigate, are the controls accessible (remember, this is a touch-screen interface with a variety of swipe, pinch, tapping and other gestures), does it handle your video playlists the way you want, are there particular preference settings you need, etc.?
A good many of the special features and capabilities offered by all these third-party mobile video players are quite innovative, adding greatly to your enjoyment and use of video.
Let me your thoughts on what your favorite mobile video player by leaving a comment below.