If you’re anything like me, you probably TiVo, or record your favorite tv shows for later viewing. Personally I have a dedicated computer with a couple of tv tuners to handle all of my tv recording. I save all of my favorite shows to the hard drives, then I either copy the files to my laptop, or (until this app) convert them to Apples MPEG4/H.264 format with a 3rd party file conversion program for viewing on my iPad. My preferred method for encoding is Divx because it compresses files to a quite manageable size, and a good viewing quality for mobile devices. Divx is also a really common file format that can be played across a wide array of devices. VLC, the makers of a popular open source media player recently released a native app for the iPad. While this isn’t the first app that allows for playback of AVI’s and Divix formats, it’s (in my opinion) the best.
What is a video app like this if it doesn’t support a wide array of files? Keeping with that thinking VLC supports AVI, MPG, MKV, etc. so it doesn’t disappoint. Loading files couldn’t be easier with VLC. Under your app tab in iTunes you scroll to the bottom of the screen, select the files that you want to add and it syncs them. Strait forward functionality, just as you would expect from a company like VLC. Where this app really impressed me was in the UI. Just like Terry, I’m a UI guy. I like the layout to be smooth, easy to navigate, and intuitive. VLC for iPad does all of this. Your videos show up as small preview screens with the file name underneath it. They have incorporated a “shelf” like look similar to the bookshelf found in iBooks. It may be trivial, but I enjoy this look and feel and I appreciate the effort that went into the graphics.
What I’d like to see
While standard definition files play back flawlessly, I have found that high definition files can be choppy. I think this may be an issue with the app not using the iPad’s built in hardware acceleration. While this isn’t a huge issue for me, it may be for some people and the developer is currently working on a fix for this. Also I would like to see a few more file formats supported. Specifically .flv files. You have to be on iOS 3.2 or later. It doesn’t support Beta 4.2 yet, however they are working on that.
For quick, easy Divx playback, VLC is the best available right now. I love the UI, and with standard definition files, it is stable. If you like to watch videos on the go, you should get this for your iPad. The price is definitely within the budget at free.