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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Best Free Media Player for Android

Ever since it was possible to play videos on a computer, it seems like people have always been looking for an alternative to the built-in media player, and with reason. Often built-in video players will only provide basic functionality and often a limited codec support. That, well, let's call it "tradition", continues today on mobile form factors. Ever since the iPhone came out, people have been looking to be able to play files like flv files on it. Same with Android, and that's why we're here today. So, if you're looking for a fresh interface for enjoying your media, some broader codec support, or just something plain old new, keep reading.
MX Video PlayerMX Video Player is mainly meant to play videos, and it does that very well. A small checkbox in the settings menu also lets it play music files. This app wins our award for the best freeware app in this category.
MX Video Player supports a wide array of codecs. And, they're not only supported as software codecs - there is the "H/W+" decoder. What that means is you can use hardware decoding on your videos, even if hardware decoding support isn't available for that format on your device. What it means (in plain English): you get the same performance and battery life here as when you use your default video player.
When you open the app, you will find a list of folders on your device that contain videos. Recently added videos have a "New" label on them, as well as on the folders they're in.
The interface you get while playing videos is great. Slide your finger up or down on the right half of the screen to adjust volume. Slide your finger up or down on the left half of the screen to adjust brightness. If you want, you can also use automatic brightness, but it took me a while to find that buried in the settings. Slide your finger left or right to seek. Use two fingers to zoom the video - and you can even set it so that you can pan around the video while it's zoomed in. A lock control prevents your device's home, back, and menu buttons from having any effect. There are position controls, to control if your video is played at 100% size, stretched, etc. There is also a control to let you choose between "H/W" decoding (the way the default video app works, but only for native video formats), "H/W+" (similar but for other video formats), and "S/W" (Software decoding, which means worse performance and worse battery life).
This app can also play audio files, however, it needs some extra configuration for this. Just go to the "Audio" section of the settings, and make sure "Audio Player" is checked.
There are many settings to let you adjust whatever you want, from change the default video decoder, to fine-tuning the interface, to playing a video in the background - just about everything you could imagine.
Overall, this app is an excellent media player, and I can really recommend it to everybody.
QQPlayerQQPlayer is another app that only plays videos, and that has external codecs. In other words, you can play videos with this player even if they aren't normally supported by your device.
When you start up QQPlayer, you already notice the first problem: the video scanning. In order to find your videos, it needs to scan your phone to find them. It takes quite a while, and worst of all, it won't do it in the background easily. As soon as you do something else that takes too much memory, QQPlayer is killed (which is normal), but the "refreshing" is cancelled in the process.
Then, you get to your list of videos, which is unacceptably laggy. My device isn't the newest, but I would be willing to bet that there is still a lag problem on new devices. And this is with the video preview disabled. Not to mention, it's just a list, no indication as to which folder the video is, only an indication of the length of the video.
Well, OK, now, enough complaining. One interesting feature is the "Private List". This is a password-protected list that you can move videos into. Once you put a video in this list, it's no longer in the main list - so that only people with the password can see the videos in that folder. It's probably useful for storing videos, of products, for... your... significant... other... never mind.
This app remembers the point where you left the video, so that you can continue playing from that point next time. There's also an option to continue playing what you were playing before - which can be handy if you have a huge list of videos - especially considering how laggy the video list is.
There are codecs for quite a few video formats, however, the codecs probably aren't as efficient as the codecs built in to your device - they definitely were not on my device.
The video playing interface is decent - you have the same kind of gesture controls, similarily to MX Video Player, and they work well. The only thing missing for me would be an option to be able to set the screen brightness to automatic.
QQPlayer has a decent amount of settings, so you'll be able to find most basic settings there. If you don't need any advanced settings, you'll be fine.
Overall, QQPlayer is a decent video player. It has some issues, but some interesting features that I haven't seen in other places.
After this we have MoboPlayer. This app is similar to MX Video Player in many ways, starting with that it only plays videos.MoboPlayer Video Player
Again, this media player supports a wide variety of file formats, although here, it's not as simple and straightforward as with MX Video Player. It doesn't just play the video, but goes through a few different screens. This is a fairly minor complaint, but you see this trend throughout Mobo Video Player - everything seems to be more complicated than it needs to be. Other than that, though, the video plays fine.
Finding your videos is odd - it displays a list of folders that you chose perfectly normally. But, when you go into one of those folders, it shows all of the videos, without actually showing you which video is in which subfolder. It makes for a confusing mess if you've got a lot of videos organized in folders - Mobo won't recognize that they're in subfolders. When it comes to the way the videos are presented, you can either have them in a list or in a grid, but the grid seems to be pretty laggy. You can also get an interface similar to Cover flow on Apple devices, but then, this is a pain to us - too bad, really, because otherwise, the interface actually looks nicer than Apple's, in my opinion, and is very smooth.
The buttons let you switch views, choose the folders that have videos and choose how to sort the videos (here my complaint about the subfolders is partially answered - you can sort them by directory). It has something to do with thumbnails, but which ones, I have no idea. You can also resume play from whatever video you last watched, without needing to know which one it was. That is pretty handy, except for the fact that it looks like something else, leaving me surprised to find a video of a subway when I thought I chose a video about a cloud service.
The video player's interface has the same concept as MX's interface. But, again, the controls don't work the way they should. For example, the volume control has some sort of momentum system or something similar. Whatever it is, it sometimes leaves you dragging your finger down while the volume is going up, or moving your finger slowly and the volume moving up quickly, or the other way around. Same thing with the brightness. When it comes to the seek function, again, it is complicated. While advanced users might appreciate the way it works, it's just too complicated for the average user.
The controls you get when you tap on the screen are also similar to those found in MX video player. The buttons thankfully work as expected. In the advanced menu, you can find some information on the video, such as resolution, size and decoder, but you can't change the decoder you're using. So, if a video won't play using hardware decoding and Mobo doesn't recognize it, you're stuck.
Some people might have a special feature that they're looking for in this app, but otherwise this app isn't all that great. It is way too confusing, and doesn't really offer much that other players don't. If Mobo seems down your alley, I would definitely recommend a download for MX first.
RealPlayer has always been a well-known but controversial media player on desktops. Now, it has been developed for Android.RealPlayer
The experience starts with a very nicely designed home screen, which slightly reminds me of Windows Media Center.  RealPlayer finds your music, videos and photos very well, but it might take a little time at first. It will find your media without any progress indicator, so you might be wondering what is going on.
The app has three parts - music, videos and photos. Here, we will be going over the videos and photos.
The main problem is the format support - this player will basically only support what your device already supports.
The photos section is the one area this app is lagging behind. It only shows the pictures you took with your phone's camera. You can do the typical thing - look at them individually, or play a slideshow.
If you're aren't looking for something that gives you extra codecs, then this will do. However, I would still recommend using another media player instead.
mVideoPlayer is an interesting app that isn't quite like the other media players here. Like some of the other apps reviewed here, it is mainly meant to work with videos, however, instead of providing extra codecs, it organizes your videos into movies and TV shows automatically. You can then use it in combination with the default video player or any of the media players mentioned above. Unfortunately, it didn't identify too much of my content - and I don't know why. It wouldn't even identify something as popular as a Family Guy episode (although it did recognize a Robin Williams stand up movie). A recent update was supposed to fix this - but it didn't, at least not for me. The problem is that there are no indications anywhere as to how the videos are recognized by the app, and no way to categorize them manually. I really wish it worked better, because the idea is great...

Quick Selection Guide

MX Video Player

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Plays a large variety of different file formats Great interface while playing videos Great crop/resize controls
Video resizes when controls come up (slightly irritating)
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
"Resume playing" feature, Private list of password-protected videos, Good playback controls, good format support
Unacceptably laggy video list, "refreshing" takes long and can't easily run in the background
Unrestricted freeware
There is no portable version of this product available.


Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Good Codec support; gesture-based video control
Confusing interface; finding your videos is confusing; some interfaces are unuseably slow on anything under a dual core device; the gesture video control doesn't work properly; confusing video resize controls; no option to manually switch between hardware and software decoder
Unrestricted freeware

RealPlayer® Beta

Runs as a stand-alone program on a user's computer
Ease of use Nice look
No external codecs - only videos that can already be played on the phone can be played here No gesture support
2.6 MB
Unrestricted freeware

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