AV Player HD: Why Wait to Watch?

Have you ever had to endure the time-consuming task of converting videos to watch on your iPad? Well, I have some good news for you: The waiting is over – AV Player HD plays it all, just as it is. What’s more, it can play full 1080p MP4, MOV and M4V content flawlessly.

So if you have a back-catalogue of XVIDs, AVIs or a host of other formats gathering dust on a large drive somewhere, and you want full subtitle support, aspect ratio control, post-production video effects, external playback, and more,  you’ve come to the right app.

Let’s take a closer look..

Getting Started

AV Player HD starts with a simple three-button interface that gives you choices to explore, transfer, or configure. The media explorer interface is a simple and straightforward folder navigation system to explore your media, of course. Transfer allows wireless transfer of media content to your device, and the configure button leads to a configuration screen with a handful of vital settings that change how the app works.

AV PlayerHD Main Interface

AV Player HD Main Interface

Don’t worry if you have a huge number of files, as there’s a useful sort menu discreetly tucked away under a magnifying glass icon in the bottom left corner of the explore screen, allowing sorting by Name, Filesize, Extension and Date – useful to watch and clear larger files to reclaim some space, or perhaps to select and watch more recent content.

Search Bar

Search Bar

The file format support is unparalleled, including:

  • xvid
  • avi
  • mkv
  • vob
  • mp4
  • mov
  • m4v

This gem of an app has it all covered. You need subtitles? No problem – four of the most popular subtitling formats are also catered for.

Time to Transfer

There are three simple ways to get content onto the iPad for AV player HD consumption:

  • USB {fastest}
  • FTP {over Wi-Fi}
  • HTTP {over WiFi}

USB transfer is as easy as selecting your device in iTunes, clicking on the app’s tab and scrolling down to the File Sharing section – here you will find AVPlayerHD listed. Select “Add”, choose one or more video files, press Open, and the transfer begins immediately.

A 200mb file takes a little less than 20 seconds over USB2.

Add files in iTunes

Add files in iTunes

For WiFi transfers, you need to have the app running in the foreground. From the main menu press the WiFi transfer button and this shows an HTTP:// address that you can access through your favourite browser window and an FTP:// address that you can access through your favourite FTP program.

Simply fire up the browser, type in the address and port (both ports configurable from the configuration menu) and you are presented with a simplified folder view. For HTTP://, simply click Browse, and select the file to open, then click “Submit”.

This interface limits you to a single file at a time.

WiFi transfer

WiFi transfer

AV Player HD does support background multi-tasking, but only for audio playback at this time – background WiFi transfer support is on my wish-list (as well as Drop-Box integration…). The WiFi transfer speed was around 400 seconds for a 200mb file.

Lets Play

So, once you’re loaded up with your various video files, sorted through them, and chosen what to watch, simply press once on the video file to play. This takes you to the main display screen.

A few essential icons appear initially on the left of the screen: an information toggle option to show file details, an orientation lock to hold landscape or portrait views (also configurable in the main configuration tab for a permanent landscape lock), a colour adjustment icon, and subtitling control.

Regular play, rewind, forward, and skip controls are placed centre bottom on the screen, and a sliding navigation bar rests along the top to provide instant access to any part of your media. If the aspect ratio needs adjusting, a double tap on the screen will cycle through the 4:3 / 16:9 / fit to screen ratios.

The default double tap action can be changed from the default aspect ratio, to many other settings through the configuration menu.

The final addition to screen acreage is a novel play speed control on the right of the picture – this will play up to double speed (or down to half speed) video and audio – a useful feature for some?

AV Player HD main controls

AV Player HD main controls

All of these icons fade away after a moment or two to leave your media playing without interruption, but that does not mean control is lost – this innovative little app has gesture controls – tap, double tap, swiping up, down, left, right, and many additional gestures such as two and three fingered tapping, or two fingered swiping in all four directions. All of these can be set to a number of handy features and timings, including volume control.

This brings us to the audio support – media audio streams supported include MP3, AAC, and the amazing Dolby Digital AC3 format. Couple this with Apple’s Digital HDMI cable, or if you have an Apple TV, Airplay, and you have a portable media extravaganza!

Order! Order!

If sorting a large screen of files is not to your liking, there are basic folder creation and file movement facilities to get your movie-house in order. A tap of the bottom-right + folder icon reveals a ‘Create a folder’ tab, which will name and create an empty folder.

If you’ve got content that is perhaps not age-appropriate, each folder can be locked with a pass code by simply activating the spanner icon, top right, a single tap on the right edge of the folder name, and slide “Use Passcode” to on, entering your secure code twice.

This won’t prevent folder deletion, but will prevent access, even to the filenames in that folder. Very neat.

passcode

Use passcode option

Grouping media files into folders takes a few steps: creating the folder, selecting the desired files, moving into the folder with the centrally placed “Move Folders” icon. There is a unique and possibly better way, though: AV Player HD allows both HTTP and FTP transfer to the device, as well as dropping individual files in iTunes, so organising your content becomes effortless as you synchronise your tidy media and folder structures in one swoop with your favourite FTP transfer program.

The Icing on the Cake

Which brings us finally to the show stopper of a fact – this wonderfully flexible, value for money, multi-format media player plays full 1080p H.264 content, effortlessly. High definition 720p content is supported in the popular open source MKV wrapper, but take it up a notch to 1080p, and the MP4, MOV and M4V wrappers offer a truly outstanding visual experience to nestle in the palms of your hands.

Couple this with the external HDMI support and the results are simply breathtaking!

Make sure you enable the hardware decoder option in the configuration options for this little gem, and check out the other options available:

Settings Summary

Settings Summary

And finally, whatever you watch, and wherever you pause, if you enable multiple resume points, AV Player HD does just that – it will take you back to exactly the point you left off – essential for dipping in and out of content without losing your place – you can even shuffle and move your files around, and the restore points are remembered. Awesome!

Conclusion

If the stunning high definition playback doesn’t get your juices going, or the instant access to your whole back catalogue of acquired and encoded media, I don’t know what will. At only $2.99 it would be enough for just that, but this sweet application keeps evolving and pushing to the front of the pack as the definitive player for the iPad, with continued updates, and innovative touches like its gesture controls – it’s a must-have.

Further support for accessing media files across up and coming services like iCloud or more established file sharing services such as Dropbox, should allow even more freedom to access all of that lovely media content, whenever and wherever you are.


Summary

A stunning media player that allows for instant access to your whole back catalogue, high definition, and innumerable other great features.

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