VLC is a popular media player for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. It was one of the first apps that could support virtually any video codec, which means that as long as you’re trying to watch a video without DRM, you can probably use VLC.
The developers have been working on an Android port of VLC for a while, and now it looks like we’re one step closer to a release. VLC for Android is now in beta testing, and you can sign up to request an invitation to participate in the private beta.
There’s a key difference between VLC for desktop computers and for Android though. Most Android phones and tablets have processors that support hardware acceleration for just a few video codecs. So while VLC may be able to decode videos that aren’t supported by your device’s chipset, it will have to use software to do that, and the performance will likely vary from device to device and video file to video file.
For instance, most recent Android devices have hardware support for H.264 video files, which means you can typically play 720p or even 1080p HD video in that format on some devices. But it’s much less common (although not impossible) to find a device that has hardware support for MKV or DiVX video files. VLC may let you watch movies in those formats anyway, but I wouldn’t expect HD videos to work well unless you have hardware support.
In other words, while it’s certainly pretty cool that VLC is set to become one of the first Swiss Army Knife video players that can run on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, I’d be surprised if it works much better than RockPlayer, MoboPlayer, or any of the other video players currently available for Android.
Minor correction: MKV is a file container format like AVI or MOV, not a video codec like XVID or h.264. There are lots of MKV files out there that use an h.264 codec (for example), but Google’s WebM format is a VP8 codec video (and Ogg audio) in an MKV container.
Also, for what it’s worth, my year-old Samsung Epic running the stock ROM and stock media player can handle XVID videos just fine. (Probably helps that I never see HD XVID files… not that my device is HD.) But I look forward to giving VLC a try, since it’s what I’ve been using on the desktop for years. I like software that’s free as in freedom, maybe because I’m a developer myself and I know if there’s something I don’t like about it, I can fix it if I care enough rather than writing my own from scratch.
I would have even signed up as a beta tester, but they’ve already stopped taking applications.
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