Review: mplayer

Mplayer is the best media player there is. It just is. One just downloads it and it just works, no codecs installation, no registry shit, nothing. It can navigate with the arrow keys (up/down, left/right, pgup/pgdn), it can open unfinished downloads, and can repair/redo their index and navigate while the file is still downloading - awesome. It's very lightweight.

It can play almost anything, no matter how broken it is. It comes with a console tool called mencoder that can encode stuff. It's very hard to use, but it works. It has a GUI for windows and mac os x.

The problem is that the development is a bit forsaken. Sometimes the GUI crashes, there a few bugs, the integration with the OS is not that perfect (I had issues with Vista effects and Mac OS X graphics cards switching)

I just found that the MplayerX (+GUI) is available in the App Store, perfect. The GUI is very slick.

Verdict: highly recommended. on iPhone

(Ръководство на Български за гледане на телевизия от на iPhone/iPad) is a streaming service for mostly Bulgarian tv and radio stations. The good thing about it is that it's integrated tightly with most ISPs (mine too) so the speed is impeccable. offers paid plans for even more stations.

I don't own a tv set and don't have a cable subscription, so usually don't watch tv. Rarely though, I want to watch a formula 1 race or a football game. Then I use offers the following options:

The first two expect browser plugins that allow watching inside a browser window. Since I use Mac OS X with Chrome both these options are not suitable. The third is an ASX file that could be opened with a suitable player.

VLC opens such files directly, but I prefer Mplayer. I personally thing Mplayer is the best player there is, because:

  • it can open everything. Very rarely will there be a file that Mplayer can open and something else can
  • it's the fastest and lightest player I've tried.
  • It has the best controls I've ever seen: arrows and pgup/pgdn can fast-forward/rewind with 10 sec., 1 min., 10 min. respectively.
  • It can open files that are still downloading and even index them (-i option) so that fast-forward and rewind are possible.
  • Can open URLs, user can specify buffer size.
  • Comes bundled with mencoder - an application that can encode/decode video.
  • Has multiple GUIs for different platforms - MPUI and native for Windows, Mplayer OSX for Mac.

The ASX files are meta files and look like this:

<ASX version = "3.0">
        <TITLE>bTV - test live (368x294)</TITLE>
        <AUTHOR>bTV - test</AUTHOR>
        <COPYRIGHT>bTV - test</COPYRIGHT>
        <REF HREF = "" />

(Medicom is my ISP)

The problem with Mplayer and is that Mplayer cannot open ASX files and in order to play it, the ASF url in the ASX must be manually extracted and opened in Mplayer which is very annoying.

iPhone and

Where does the iPhone come in the picture? Well, I tried to find whether Mplayer could run on iPhone and found an app (oplayer) that can open streaming asf files. Oplayer successfully opened asf urls from

Some tips: even on iPhone4 the hi-res streaming is too processor-heavy to run smoothly. the lo-res streaming run very nice.

Oplayer too cannot open asx files directly so the url has to be manually extracted from the asx file which on an iPhone is even more cumbersome and annoying.

All streams that suppies are asf, so I guess any player that supports asf containers and can decode wmv streams can play

So running on iPhone is possible, but can be made a lot more user-friendly.