If you thought that I was excited about the CineXPlayer iPad app, the first media player allowed on the App Store that is capable of playing back non-Apple video formats, then you haven’t witnessed anything yet…Upon learning that a French developer had submitted an iPad version of VLC media player, I was immediately excited about being able to play my library of TV shows and movies on the iPad tablet without having to convert them first.
Although VLC has been submitted to Apple for approval, the likelihood of it being accepted are extremely slim compared to that of the VLC Remote iPhone App, but there is still one hell of a jailbreak community out there, so it could still end up on a store such as Cydia if Apple doesn’t want it on their App Store.
I was lucky enough to get hold of a copy of the VLC iPad app before its official release from the developer, and it shows a lot of promise and potential, despite being a little rough around the edges. Let’s take a look at it, shall we?
The interface of VLC for iPad couldn’t be further from the desktop version at this point. Whereas the desktop version of VLC offers a mass of functionality but doesn’t have much to show in the eye candy department, the developers of VLC for iPad have clearly taken some cues from Apple’s iBooks. When you open the VLC app, you’re presented with a bookshelf backdrop which contains a library of all your videos.
When playing back a video, the overlay controls appear similar to the built-in video player of the iPad. At the bottom, you have the standard play, next, and previous buttons above the volume slider, and a countdown of how long is left in the video. There is also a button in the top left hand corner of the screen, which is somewhat ambiguously labelled “OK”. This closes the video and returns to the menu.
When testing video playback using VLC for the iPad, I decided to put two video formatted files on the iPad: one .avi video and one .mkv video. Both formats are accepted without any issue by VLC and allow playback on the device, however, 720p playback isn’t watchable yet. This is more to do with the power of the iPad than anything because VLC uses software to decode the video formats, whereas Apple’s own video player has hardware-assisted decoding.
I also noticed that there is sometimes an audio and video sync problem, although this can be resolved by exiting the video and relaunching it; VLC remembers where you were before you closed the application, so you don’t miss anything or have to manually get back to your place.
Whether these are issues that the developer will be able to resolve soon, I don’t know, but we’ll hopefully see a little more refinement a few updates down the line. It’s also important to remember that this is an early version of the VLC Media Player iPad App, there are bound to be a few kinks to work out.
At this stage, I’m just incredibly excited by the prospect of regularly playing MKV and other video files on my Apple iPad without any conversion necessary, and that is huge!
I’d like to thank Applidium, the developer of VLC for iPad for giving us the chance to check out this fantastic application prior to its release.
Hoping to study Computer Science at University in the near future, you’ll seldom see John without a computer in touching distance! His interests include building computers, reading all sorts of literature and of course writing for Zath to keep you updated on all the latest in the world of tech! You can follow John on Twitter as @british_geek.