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5 free HD video players for Android you should try

Posted by wicked July - 4 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

With the proliferation of high definition video – whether streaming or in file form – available for Android devices, and with the ever-improving video performance and higher video resolutions being shipped with handsets and tablets, one would now start to understand the need of a great media player application that will be able to handle such content. Given that the stock Android players that come together with your new devices would probably be able to handle most of the file types out there, it would be unbecoming of any user to not look around the Google Play Store and see the multitude of options – free options at that! – available. So we took it upon ourselves to give you our top 5 free HD video apps.

Moboplayer

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Any respectable discussion about free media players will honestly not be complete without mentioning Moboplayer, as it has been one of the most popular free media players out there for quite a bit of time now. MoboPlayer supports a lot of the video file formats that are rampant in the Internet, including ones that your device might not normally support, this through a feature called software decoding. The player itself also supports multiple audio tracks, subtitles – even multiple onscreen subtitles, and media streaming to media and home entertainment servers. The player takes some time in opening HD video files – especially 1080p ones – but it is rarely more than 3 seconds. With our Samsung Galaxy S3 Alpha (SC-03E) test bed – 4.8-inch 1280×720 screen, 1.6Ghz Exynos processor, Mali-400MP graphics, 2GB RAM – there was no visible lag opening a 1080p MP4 file.

It is available free the Google Play Store, with ad support.

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MX Player

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One of the more substantial free media players out there, great for general purpose video viewing, is MX Player. Using this app, you get a feeling that the developers chose to put in just that right balance between ease-of-use and robust features. The video viewer itself is sleek and logical, and the app supports most popular formats. For better format support, there is a codec download available, both from the developers, or you may choose to use any other codecs out there. There are gestures galore, and pinch-to-zoom. You have access to subtitle options, aspect ratio control and other stuff just from the main screen, while a lot more tweaks can be discovered in the settings menu. No lagging on this one as well, the software and hardware decoding holds up well. And since this is a free version, there will be ads, but the experience was altogether unobtrusive and tolerable.

Download from Google Play Store here.

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Vplayer

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Vplayer is a simple approach to a media playing. It lacks the bells and whistles of most premium players and even like Moboplayer and MX Player, but if you want a straight up video player, this is one of the “lighter” media players out there. It supports the common file formats, and then some. Vplayer will also detect all your folders that contain video files and display them in folder view, but there are no ways of filtering or organizing your content. One of the cool things about Vplayer is that it lets you copy and paste links out of Youtube and Vimeo and play them on Vplayer.

Download free from Google Play.

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DicePlayer

Dice-Player

DicePlayer is another feature filled player that leverages on a streamlined and uncluttered viewing window, with some straight up features available. When viewing your movie, the controls for view lock, playback speed controller, audio track and subtitle support, and aspect ratio adjustment is immediately available. DicePlayer even has controls for subtitle sync calibration, for those times when annoying subtitles are just not synced with your movie file. Finally, Dice Network playback support allows users to push their device-based media to media servers and home networks over Samba filesharing, FTP, and other such processes.

Download free over Google Play.

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BSPlayer

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Our last media player on this list is definitely not the least of them all, as the BSPlayer is a solid all around media app as well. Robust to the core, BSPayer offers software and hardware decoding in what seems to be a pretty uncluttered viewing pane – and we do realize that an uncluttered and simple viewing pane is one of our main considerations in a video player. One of the major selling points for the BSPlayer is that it lets you customize the interface to your liking with a variety of skins available. The app has support for subtitles, even built-in subtitles in video container files such as MKVs. As an added feature, the BSPlayer can even automatically find subtitles for your files online – very neat. The BSPlayer also has a “pop-out viewer” where you can keep your video on top of any app you may be running at the moment. As with everything here, it is available for free download and install over at the Google Play Store.

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One last app that is probably worthy of mention outside of this list is the VLC Media Player Beta for Android. The downloadable app, even in its beta stage, is still very much usable with your device, and like its desktop version, it can pretty much play whatever file format you throw at it. The app is far from perfect, and being in the beta stage, it has a number of bugs and lags in most cases playing 720 and 1080p files. But in its defense, the team behind it keeps improving the program towards perfection until it finally decides to release it as a full pledged app.

This list is not by any means a comprehensive list, just the ones we like. Tells us what you guys like over at the comments section.

Verizon Galaxy S III, S4 Mini now getting Android 4.4

Posted by wicked June - 20 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Samsung and its carrier partners are continuing the much-welcomed onslaught of Android 4.4 updates this week. Living up to “better late than never”, Verizon is rolling out the latest version, though only Android 4.4.2 in this case, to the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S4 Mini.

The update for the Galaxy S III on Verizon’s network follows that of AT&T’s release yesterday. Outside of the US, the 2012 flagship also enjoyed an update coming from Canadian carriers such as Bell and TELUS. This practically covers most of the Galaxy S III devices found on this side of the globe. However, this is once again only for the LTE version of the device, as the fate of the update for the international GT-I9300 remains unkown.

On the other hand, this is the first reported update for the Galaxy S4 Mini. The update arrives on time, at least based on the leaked Samsung schedule which puts the update for the device around June. This makes the 2013 device even more interesting¸that is if AT&T pushes the same Android 4.4 update to its own devices. The Galaxy S4 Mini has been chosen as AT&T’s first VoLTE-enabled device.

As for new features, most of you will probably be quite familiar with the new things that Android 4.4 itself brings, including cloud printing, improved performance, immersive mode, and redesigned navigation and notification bars. Samsung and Verizon are, of course, throwing in their own changes along with this firmware upgrade, like the latest KNOX 2.0 security framework and new pre-installed apps like ISIS Wallet, Verizon Cloud, and Emergency Alerts.

SOURCE: Verizon (1), (2)

Samsung Galaxy S III, Note II, and Tab 3 8.0 seeing Android 4.4 rollouts

Posted by wicked June - 19 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Samsung hasn’t forgotten about its 2012 and 2013 devices just yet. Rolling out across the US and Canada are Android 4.4 updates to the company’s 2012 flagship, the Galaxy S III, as well as the Canadian version of the Galaxy Note II. Meanwhile, across the pond in France, last year’s affordable 8.0-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is also getting its KitKat treat.

The Galaxy S III has actually already enjoyed an Android 4.4.2 upgrade late last month, but that has been limited to to those coming from carrier US Cellular. Now the model that is being covered is the AT&T version, specifically the SGH-i747. However, the update is also available for those under Canadian carrier Bell, Rogers, and TELUS, under the SGH-i747M model number. This, more or less coincides with the schedule for the Galaxy S III leaked earlier, though a bit late by a few weeks. It should be noted, though, that the international version of the device, specifically the GT-I9300, still has no Android KitKat update available.

Also a bit behind schedule, the Canadian models of the Galaxy Note II are also reported to be receiving Android 4.4.2 today as well. In the US, the device only got the update last week, at least for those under Verizon’s network. According to the same leaked schedule, the 2012 S Pen phablet was meant to get the update around April, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Going a bit forward in time, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0-inch edition, which was released last year, is also getting an update. The 7.0-inch model already had its Android 4.4.2 update a few days ago, but that was for the US. This time, it is France that is getting dibs on the KitKat update, though other regions are likely to follow suit soon.

SOURCE: Samsung
VIA: SamMobile (1), (2)

US Cellular Galaxy S III getting Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat

Posted by wicked May - 29 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

The Samsung Galaxy S III is far from the newest device in the US Cellular lineup. But despite having a pair of successors (Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5) enter the lineup, it seems US Cellular is giving the Galaxy S III some attention. Simply put — the handset is getting an update.

US Cellular users carrying a Galaxy S III are getting Kit Kat. The update is arriving as Android 4.4.2 and will bump the baseband version to R530UVXCND4. You’ll be able to grab the update over-the-air (if connected to WiFi), or by connecting your device to a computer using a USB connection.

The former (WiFi option) is the easier of the two, however Samsung does have a detailed set of directions available for those looking to update through USB and a computer. And to clarify, the computer update process works on Windows 7, Vista or XP. Mac users will have to stick to the over-the-air option.

Perhaps key here — this update brings improvements with the Phone Dialer, Hangouts and the Camera app. Users will notice how contacts will now be prioritized based on how often you use them. The camera improvement means a new ‘touch to focus’ with the option to adjust the focus and exposure.

Anyway, those carrying a US Cellular branded Galaxy S III will want to keep an eye out for an update notification.

SOURCE: US Cellular

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You may recall that back in November of last year, we shared a leaked Samsung internal memo detailing the OEM’s tentative plans for updating its Galaxy line up to Android 4.4 KitKat. And with the exception of the canceled update for the International S3, this schedule has mostly held true, as we’ve seen KitKat roll out to many of the Korean company’s newer high end devices. Now, more internal documentation has appeared, giving us a clearer picture of what Samsung’s working on in its internal labs.

First up, we have the Galaxy S5 (SM-G900F and SM-G900H) and Galaxy S4 LTE-A (GT-I9506). According to internal Samsung documentation from five days ago, Android 4.4.3 KTU70 is now being actively worked on for these three device variants. For the S4 LTE-A, the firmware in progress comes in at version XXUDQNE4, and for the two S5 variants, we’re looking at versions XXU0BNE3 and XXU0BNE6. The builds for all three device variants are currently in the integration stage, which means that Samsung is adding its OEM customizations to the firmwares. Assuming all goes well with the integration and testing, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that we may see 4.4.3 arrive on these three devices in the next couple of months.

Next up, we have more information regarding Android 4.4.2 KOT49H updates for various older Samsung devices. According to the leaked documentation, Android 4.4.2 will make its way out to the Galaxy S3 LTE, Note II LTE, and Note 3 Neo later this month. Then some time next month, the S 4 Mini, S 4 Mini LTE, Grand 2, Mega 5.8, and Mega 6.3 will receive their own official Android 4.4.2 builds. Unfortunately, the update for the standard (1 GB RAM) S3 is still marked as “unstable,” and given Samsung’s public statement on the matter, it’s increasingly unlikely that this will change in the near future.

Do you own any of these Samsung devices and are you looking forward to these OEM-provided updates? Or instead, have you rooted and installed an AOSP-derived custom ROM? Let us know in the comments below.

[Source: Sammobile]

[Test Build Available] Samsung Galaxy S III Can’t Run Official KitKat? Not on XDA!

Posted by wicked May - 13 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

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Not too long ago, we learned that Samsung canceled its plans to release KitKat for their former flagship device from the first quarter of 2012, the Samsung Galaxy S III. This is due to their failure “to load system apps” because of the limited amount of device RAM—or at least that’s what we’re told in an official statement.

But of course, this is XDA, and our devs immediately undertook the task of getting TouchWiz-laden KitKat onto the device. From the same article linked above, you may have noticed that the Samsung Galaxy Note II has already received a fully functional official KitKat build. And given the similarities in hardware, it didn’t take long to see users attempt to port its ROM for use on the Galaxy SIII.

XDA Senior Member forumber2 noticed that eMMC partition is too small to run bloated TouchWiz properly, so he decided to try his luck booting from the SD card. After swapping kernels, the Note II’s build started properly and almost everything was running as intended. Well, other than sensors, WiFi, RIL, and a few other device features.

Forumber2 made a video demonstrating KitKat on the i9300. Now, it is believed that using some bits and pieces from GT-i9305 (a Qualcomm-based variant of the Galaxy S III) will help solving all of the remaining issues. Hopefully, soon everyone can enjoy TouchWiz-laden KitKat on the not-so-old S III.

The thread demonstrating KitKat on Samsung Galaxy S III can be found here. Hopefully the community will once again show the OEM that “impossible” is just a term to describe their laziness.

Update: If you are eager to try KitKat on your Galaxy S III, XDA Recognized Contributors JustArchi and Kryten2k35 have already released an experimental port of Note II’s KitKat firmware, which can be found in its development thread. It’s still in testing, so keep in mind that there are certain issues that need to be ironed out with RIL and sensors. However, WiFi, 3G, text messaging, camera, and most functions appear to be working fine, so it’s worth a try if you’re looking for Samsung-flavored KitKat on your SGS3.

[Big thanks to XDA Forum Moderator Siberian Tiger for the tip.]

Samsung Confirms No KitKat for the International Galaxy S III and Galaxy S III Mini

Posted by Will Verduzco May - 9 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

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Two days ago, we shared leaked documentation showing Samsung’s progress in bringing Android 4.4 KitKat to their older generation devices. These internal documents unfortunately indicated that the official KitKat update for the International Galaxy S III GT-I9300 had been “canceled for now.”

For those keeping track, this documentation also stated that the hangup was due to the failure to implement Samsung’s proprietary applications (i.e. bloatware) onto the device. Because of this, we were quick to speculate that the most plausible explanation was that the device’s 1 GB of RAM would make it incapable of bearing the full weight of Samsung’s latest generation TouchWiz bloatware.

Now in an official statement given to the folks over at Sammobile, Samsung UK has confirmed both that the International Galaxy S III GT-I9300 won’t be getting KitKat, as well as why it can’t handle the truth update:

In order to facilitate an effective upgrade on the Google platform, various hardware performances such as the memory (RAM, ROM, etc.), multi-tasking capabilities, and display must meet certain technical expectations. The Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions come equipped with 1GB RAM, which does not allow them to effectively support the platform upgrade. As a result of the Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions’ hardware limitation, they cannot effectively support the platform upgrade while continuing to provide the best consumer experience. Samsung has decided not to roll-out the KitKat upgrade to Galaxy S3 and S3 mini 3G versions, and the KitKat upgrade will be available to the Galaxy S3 LTE version as the device’s 2GB RAM is enough to support the platform upgrade.

Sadly, this also brings bad news for Galaxy S III Mini owners, as they too will not be receiving the official KitKat love. However, Samsung reiterated that the Galaxy S III LTE will indeed receive the official OTA thanks to the device’s 2 GB of RAM.

It’s quite unfortunate that the relatively new Galaxy S III and S III Mini won’t receive KitKat. This flies in the face of Google’s efforts with Project Svelte to make the OS run on devices with limited hardware specifications and as little as 512 MB of RAM. But judging from the amount of bloatware features that Samsung shoehorns onto their devices, this should come as no big surprise for anyone. That still doesn’t make it right, and perhaps Samsung should take this as a sign that they should consider trimming off some of the fat in their custom UI.

Samsung Android 4.4 update schedule leaked

Posted by wicked May - 8 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

If you’ve ever wondered if and when your beloved Samsung Galaxy smartphone was getting a sweet KitKat update, wonder no more. This latest leak divulges Samsung’s timetable for the Android 4.4 update, though it isn’t all good news for everyone.

The full list of devices include both LTE and regular variants of the Galaxy Note II, the LTE Galaxy S III, the Galaxy S4 Mini LTE and non-LTE, the Galaxy Note 3 Neo, the Galaxy Grand 2, and both models of the gigantic Galaxy Mega. While we have already heard word before that these will indeed be getting the KitKat treatment, the leak does bring to our attention the estimated time when Samsung plans to deliver them. According to the spreadsheet, the Galaxy Note II LTE, Galaxy S III LTE, and Galaxy Note 3 Neo will be getting theirs this month, while the rest will have to wait until June.

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Now for the bad news. The Galaxy S III, specifically the international GT-I9300 variant, is sadly left out of the list. According to SamMobile’s tipster, this is due to some rather big technical hurdles, specifically getting TouchWiz to work on the latest Android 4.4 version. Samsung is said to be under pressure from Google to deliver the update, though Google probably can’t do anything if Samsung can’t really make it possible. Such is sometimes the drawbacks of running a heavily modified user interface.

Of course, these dates are just rough estimates and Samsung isn’t beholden to stick to it, though the status for the various updates look encouraging. There is also rumors that Android 4.4.3 is already being tested for a number of devices and some might even update directly to it and skip Android 4.4.2.

VIA: SamMobile

[OTA Captured] KitKat Lands on the Sprint Galaxy S III

Posted by Will Verduzco May - 1 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

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You may recall that yesterday, we talked about how Sprint was preparing to release an official update to Android 4.4.2 KitKat for the Sprint Galaxy S III. This news came courtesy of XDA Senior Member poit, who noticed that Samsung had updated its Open Source Release Center page for the Sprint variant of the SGS3 to include the upcoming L710VPND8 update. And just one day later, the update is now here.

As expected, today’s update comes in at firmware version L710VPND8. And according to Sprint’s update support page, ND8 brings the device’s long awaited “Android 4.4 Kit Kat update.” Aside from the increase in Android version number and the incorporation of Linux kernel 3.4, not much is known just yet about this update and what it brings. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect that ND8 brings with it some of the same refinements we’ve seen on other KitKat updates for Samsung devices such as a transparent status bar with white icons, and so on.

The update is currently making its way out to consumer devices via a staged OTA rollout. This rollout began a couple of hours ago, and will continue over the course of the next week or so. Unfortunately, not every device will be in the initial wave. But thanks to XDA Recognized Contributor CNexus, this is not an issue, as he was able to capture the OTA update link directly on Google’s servers.

But before you get to flashing, there are a few caveats with the OTA. For starters, ND8 brings a new Knox-enabled bootloader. Furthermore, this update has not yet been rooted. But if these issues aren’t a big deal for you, flash away. Just make sure that you’re on a stock, unmodified MK3 ROM first, and that you are running stock recovery.

If you wish to get in on the update before it’s pushed to your device, head over to the captured OTA thread. And if you wish to discuss what this update brings to the table, head over to the KitKat discussion thread.

[Many thanks to XDA Senior Member shekinahsmoke for the tip!]

Sprint Galaxy S III ND8 KitKat Source Released, OTA Soon

Posted by Will Verduzco April - 30 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

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Just like most other variants of the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Sprint Galaxy S III it still stuck on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Rolling out back in late November of last year, the official L710VPMK3 build has been out for quite some time. And while we already know that KitKat will eventually make its way to the device, many users are starting to wonder when those official KitKat goods will arrive.

While we don’t have an exact date just yet, Sprint SGS3 owners can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the time is near. Recently, Samsung updated its Open Source Release Center page for the Sprint variant of the SGS3 to include the upcoming L710VPND8 update. This was first spotted and posted to the forums by XDA Senior Member poit. Then,  XDA Recognized Contributor CNexus was able to determine that in addition to bringing KitKat, this update will feature the Linux 3.4 kernel.

Head over to the discussion thread to learn more and Samsung’s Open Source Release Center to download the source yourself. Naturally, there’s no mention of any sort of update on Sprint’s support page, but we’ll be sure to update you all when the update goes live.

[Many thanks as always to XDA Portal Supporter Titokhan for the heads up!]

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