VLC on iPad: Video selection menu
VLC on iPad: Video selection menu

I got word that VLC officially hit the iPad and I was psyched. I had previously tested out the Xvid-playing app CineXPlayer to lousy results and recommended that you stick to Apple-approved formats for your iPad. Then an app calling itself “VLC” appeared.

If you watch video on your computer, you probably know about VLC — it is the Swiss-army knife of video players. Dang near every file format plays well on VLC, plus it is free.

The free iPad app, on the other hand, is not quite as powerful as its desktop sibling. Being the nerd that I am, I read the included instructions, and loaded the app up with videos through iTunes. I threw a ton of file formats at it: AVI (both Xvid and DivX varieties), M4V, MKV, even VOB.

The only problem was the app kept crashing upon activation. After deleting all the videos, I added files one-by-one until I found the culprit – MKV. The VLC app would crash every time I would add MKV files. You don’t even have to pick the MKV file, just load it, and VLC will crash.

VLC on iPad: The player is clean, but M4V playback was buggy

I found that VOB files can be loaded but do not show up as a selectable option. You also cannot load full Video_TS folders, but why would you want to? Additionally, the M4V files I wanted to watch did not play back too well as you can see above.

VLC on iPad - Playing Xvid video successfully

On the upside, VLC played everything else I threw at it. Xvid and DivX files played back smoothly without the need for any silly conversions. VLC is pretty honest with you too, I loaded an HD M4V and a pop up said the iPad may not be fast enough to play back the video. Sure enough, VLC was right.

The VLC video player controls are just as you’d expect on any video player on the iPad. You get the usual scrubber bar and pop-up play/pause controls that fade away when they are not in use. If you get interrupted and have to stop video playback, VLC automatically remembers your position when you return.

All in all, this is a great first effort and VLC on the iPad can only get better. If you have lots of Xvid or DivX files, I think you’ve found your app.

VLC for iPad is available as a free download from the App Store. The developer who ported the app says an iPhone and iPod touch version is coming soon.

16 replies on “VLC on iPad: Theoretically awesome, practically pretty good”

  1. Thanks for the early post on the new app. So were you able to watch VOB files through the app? What do you mean it wasn’t a selectable option?

    1. I was unable to watch VOB files. You can load them from iTunes to the VLC app, but the VOB files don’t show up in the menu. So if you look at the top picture, you’ll see only 4 options even though I loaded 5 (the 5th was a VOB file). The VLC app just show you the VOB as an option. I hope that clears things up!

  2. Well, it looks like the iPad is on its way to filling in the gaps it had at launch. I still think ~9″ is too big and the need for iTunes too cumbersome. I’m becoming down on the Galaxy Tab and am not certain that either WebOS or Meego tablets will show up soon enough, so iPad is still essentially the only game in town.Big sigh. Tech Gods, hear my prayer! Give me a tablet that does what I need it to do!!

  3. Thanks for the quick review. I have been having probs with the app (constantly crashing on booting up), and I was suspecting that it might have something to do with the mkv files. However, I have been reading ambiguous/conflicting (and I guess wrong) reports on the net about whether that format type was supported, and whether that it would cause the app to crash.

    Thanks for the definitive tests you carried and clear reporting on the matter.

    So, tonight gonna head home, delete that one MKV file I have on my iPad and boom, lots of video goodness to take on my 14hr flight!

    You’re a lifesaver

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