As phone screens get bigger and more content becomes available online, people aren’t just watching short YouTube videos on their handsets, but moving towards full two hour long movies.
Android has a fair share of video apps, but after testing them all, only one withstood almost all of the formats I threw at it: MoboPlayer.
What is MoboPlayer?
MoboPlayer is a video player developed exclusively for Android by Mobo Team. What makes it stand out from the rest is that it supports almost all common video formats (and more importantly plays them back with no lag!), subtitles, and HTTP streaming. It is also one of the most popular video playback apps available for Android with 5,000,000+ installations and counting!
So let’s get started by looking at you will notice first about MoboPlayer, its user interface.
The User Interface
When you launch MoboPlayer and it finishes indexing your videos you will be presented with the main screen: a grid of static thumbnails.
Grid view and playback as demonstrated by the developer
Each thumbnail represents a different video file and contains play time, size, and the other basic information about the video. The interface is not particularly striking, but it is easy to see that the developers have gone for a more “don’t fix what already works” approach to the interface, not opting for any bold design aesthetics. This is not necessarily a bad thing though! There is absolutely no learning curve for new users and it allows you to launch the app and pick a video in two taps.
The developers have also included some very basic customisation features. For example; you can change the background of the main screen to any solid colour of your choice. As handy as this is, I find the stock one to be the best in terms of readability.
The main video browser and background changer in MoboPlayer
Once you open a video the basic design follows you into the video with your playback controls. On the bottom of your screen you have all the basic functionality such as “Play,” “Pause,” and “Rewind.” Overall the user interface leaves a lot to be desired for for any Android fan that likes experimental interfaces, but those who like basic interfaces that “just work” will find it a pleasure to use.
You would think with MoboPlayer’s basic user interface they may also have took a few shortcuts on the feature set, but you would be very wrong to think this. Apart from containing necessary functions such as rewinding, pausing and searching it also includes a few very handy features. The first of these features is the ability to change the aspect ratio of the currently playing video without even leaving the video. This proves to be very handy if your videos are in a plethora of different resolutions, as it ensures that the full size of your screen is taken advantage of every time.
The second one of these features is the ability to for it only scan specific folders of your choice. This is especially handy if you want to watch your movies on it, but don’t want to have to sift through all the videos that you took with your phone’s built-in camera. This ensures that your choice of videos is not cluttered with videos you do not want to appear.
The "Search" and "Folder selector" features.
The third major feature is playlists. For anybody that takes long journeys and uses that time to catch up on their TV this will be a deal-sealer. Once you create a playlist you can just play one video and have your own marathon. As I said above for those with long commutes you can just play one episode and have the rest play without needing to navigate through your entire library. This is a great time saver and allows you to become fully submerged in your media without worrying about picking the next episode.
Playback is probably the most important part of any video app and luckily MoboPlayer excels greatly in this area!
For the purposes of this review I attempted a playback of an episode of Downton Abbey. It was a standard AVI file, and AVI files are universally recognised as one of the best and most popular formats, so I thought that it would be perfect for testing.
Before reviewing I downloaded several other popular video apps (such as mVideoPlayer and MX Video Player), and none played back the video without lag. Often the audio would be out of sync for at least ten seconds and the video would become very pixelated as it attempted to syncnorise with the audio. This proved to be exceptionally annoying – but made MoboPlayer even more glorious in my eyes.
After MoboPlayer had refreshed the folders and Downton Abbey’s thumbnail had been generated I tapped it. It opened immediately and for the course of the opening credits the audio was in perfect sync. The perfect synchronisation continued for the course of the hour long episode. One thing I did notice was the at points the audio skipped ahead and skipped back in under two seconds. This caused the pixels to blur but it was not very noticeable and luckily only happened twice.
Midway through the playback of an AVI file.
Even though I experienced two slight hitches in the playback part of the app, overall it proved to be a very solid contender to entrust with your video collection. For anybody looking for an app that plays back videos well, with an easy-to-use interface and playlist support: check it out!
Pros: Great playback, simple user interface and playlist support.
Cons: Minor hitches during playback and the user interface may be too simple to appeal to everyone.