Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kindle Fire Tips: Two favorite Kindle Fire apps: BSPlayer and Tubemate

A few Kindle Fire apps I use the most

The ones described today work for Original Kindle Fire as well as the later models that are in HD.
  If you'd like more info on how some of these work, you can write to the comments area for this blog entry or, if easier, write a question to the kindleworld.andrys Facebook page, as it's easier to do conversations there.  The two apps recommended here are available at Amazon's appstore.


1. BSPlayer Lite - While the Kindle Fire's built-in videoplayer officially plays only certain (but not all) mp4 format videos, BSPlayer Lite (free version) plays almost any format and especially the many camera formats that other good play apps do not play well (having audio probs or halting ones or not being able to play them at all).

   BSPlayer supports:
' avi, divx, flv, mkv, mov, mpg, mts, mp4, m4v, rmvb, wmv, 3gp, mp3, ac3... and streaming content such as RTMP, RTSP, MMS (tcp, http), HTTP Live stream, HTTP.

- Multiple audio streams and subtitles.
- Playlist support and various playback modes.
- Playback media files such as videos and mp3's directly via Wi-Fi from your LAN shared drives/folders (such as external USB drives, Samba (SMB/CIFS) shared drives, PC shared folders, NAS servers (Synology and others)) - no need to convert video files and copy media files to SD card anymore!
- Playback files directly from uncompressed RAR files. '

  It's hardware accelerated and works very well with the Kindle Fire HD (I've not tested it on the original Kindle Fire, but Amazon says that it's compatible).

  CAVEAT:  'Hardware rendering" (the default) works well for Kindle Fire HD models, but you'll be using the app's "software" decoding option on the original first-generation Kindle Fire, which has a different processor and is not High Definition in screen resolution -- it may not handle 720p video resolution files well, not being a high-definition tablet (but I was able to make 720p resolution mp4 files for my Kindle Fire and they played well if the converter used was a good one like DVD Catalyst 4's) while the newer Kindle Fires that were launched Sept 2012 are HD devices.
  With BSPlayer you don't have to do file conversions on most files to play them.

  Earlier, I mentioned that maybe the flash-player problems with Adobe's dropping support for Android devices with later operating systems is causing no small frustration to tablet buyers re video in general and is leading Amazon to offer more generally good video player alternatives.

  With BSPlayer in 'hardware' mode on the Kindle Fire HD models, you can adjust the brightness with a swipe up or down on the left side and can adjust volume with a swipe up and down on the right side, etc.  It has played everything I've thrown at it, flawlessly,  and gives you a lot of file info too.  No other popular video player I tried could play the files from my varying camera video recorders.  If you have HTC devices, read their support notes though.  It's a good idea no matter what device you have, to read an app's support notes, to save some frustration and time.

  The hardware decoder works beautifully but plays audio as-is and doesn't use the Dolby Stereo feature, from what I can tell.  If you want the Dolby Stereo, you'd choose, on any videoplayer-choice popup Menu, to use "VideoPlayer" instead of BSPlayer OR change the Settings in BSPlayer (which I'd rather not do).
  Also, there are higher-resolution files offered by some uploaders at Youtube that are available only in "flv video" and most Android app players don't play those, nor does Kindle Fire's "Video Player" -- but BSPlayer does.

  I use BSPlayer with 'Tubemate' (see below) for Youtube videos that I've downloaded, and there you're asked which videoplayer you want to use.  BSPlayer, itself, does not have a great user-interface but when called from Tubemate, you can find your videos in the 'Downloads' video folder (this will be either the tablet's generic Downloads folder or if, instead, a folder you chose when doing the setup for a program like Tubemate, where you'd want to see JUST Tubemate videos rather than all downloads made.

   In connection with finding items in folders etc., you should get comfortable with a good file-explorer/manager like ES File Explorer  AND, often even better  if you have trouble finding your install (".apk") files, get the Easy Installer, at Amazon also, which automatically hunts those down for you (a must-have app, in my view).


2. Tubemate - This does a GREAT job of downloading Youtube videoclips to the KFHD, to play when not connected to the Net.  And of course you can just watch them w/o downloading them.

  I've written a few times about how to install Adobe Flash Player for Flash-videos, which I use especially for full-past-episodes watching at NetworkTV places like ABC's site, something the iPad can't do.  However, this popular workaround or feature that you can add with the help of Amazon's allowed settings described in the articles is not necessary for accessing Youtube's videos if you use Tubemate or other somewhat-less-capable Youtube-focused apps.

  Also mentioned in the past is that you can use Amazon's web browser (Silk) to get Youtube videos by changing settings to see websites only in 'mobile' format, which can be quite ugly and missing in features when done on a 7" device (especially a high-definition one). The mobile-type access was meant for the tiny screens of smartphones.  But Amazon's silk browser will work with Youtube video viewing if you change the Settings from "Desktop" to either "Automatic" (which will choose 'mobile' access for Youtube) or "Mobile" (which gives only mobile access to all pages, a mode I personally dislike on a larger device).

  As mentioned, when you are wanting to play a video that's in the "Downloads" video folder, you're given options of which video player to use and one of those options will be BSPlayer (if you downloaded that app and set it up), and that option controlled by Tubemate app gives you a nicer overall file-interface for choosing files to play.

  (With BSPlayer opened on its own, you're dropped into the file system and would need to find the "Video" folder to see the video files and would need to know which folder that was.

  But, as ever, when using ANY app, look for a rectangular Menu for it (looks like a washboard, air conditioner, or stepladder) and then look through "Preferences" or "Settings" (or both) to see what settings would suit you best.

  When I show friends what the Kindle Fire can do, the most popular feature next to Amazon's Prime Instant Videos section (which needs no external apps), the runaway favorite is being able to view favorite Youtube videos on the Kindle Fire when there's no WiFi access.

  You are "defaulted," when opening the Tubemate app, to its version of the Youtube user-interface (which is searchable), but I prefer after a short while to have it open to my local Kindle Fire's video downloads folder which it labels "Downloads" in its own menu.  You can change the folder used for that, using the Preferences feature, either way.

  As you view a Youtube video and decide you'd like to watch it offline, there is a somewhat odd procedure but easy enough to remember if you don't want the reminder coming up each time.
You'll see the video starting in a standard mode, but below it on the right side is a GREEN ARROW that points downward.

  You should press this when wanting to download a file and it will then ask whether you want to download or just watch the video (meaning watch it in a video resolution of your choosing if your Internet speed allows).  I press the Green Arrow only when I want to download, as watching in standard mode is okay when I'm just checking it out.

  Then it presents you a list of files in varying resolutions.  Choose the resolution that fits your device best. For Kindle Fire HD 7", it'll be 1280x800 or thereabouts (which is HD video and therefore a larger file -- so think of space considerations vs video clarity), and if no file that large is available for that video, then choose the next size down.
  For the Kindle Fire HD 8.9", choose 1920x1200 or so if it's available, as that is super high resolution (or 'Retina' range specs).

  Now here's the kicker: As of the latest software update, the author does not tell you the file IS downloading, and then when he tells you the file is downloaded, it is visible for maybe 1-2 seconds and we often miss it and you're left wondering.

  You can press the MENU and check your Downloads folder to see if it's there, completed.
On a slow connection the other day, a friend and I were startled to see it had downloaded the file just fine but we'd have never known.

  CAUTION - Watch the File Storage space. (Touch the top row and Swipe down, then click on "More" for more settings, and check "Device" to see how much storage you are using and still have left.)

  If choosing a 16-gig Android tablet by anyone, the space for videos, and especially HD videos!, puts you up against limits very quickly.  I chose the 32GB model for $50 more, which is not much more expensive than getting a solid, fast 16GB SD card that is always there though you can't pop it in and out, but with the Amazon Cloud where I can keep things or with the ability to use my computer or external drive as a backup device, 32GB works very well (though I'll always want more.)

After a few months, I still have about 17 Gigs of space left but I would find it frustrating to always have to swap files in and out if I'd bought a 16GB model.


I'll stop here, as more will probably confuse and will add more Favorite apps later with tips on how to use them.  Of course, please feel free to ask any questions here or at the Facebook kindleworld.andrys area or write any feedback you have on these two apps.  Thanks!



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4 comments:

  1. Bsplayer has been removed from Amazon appstore :( really need a video player with playlists

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daniel,
      BSPlayer's own place with a listing of down places is at http://www.bsplayer.com/
      Also, as mentioned in my How to Install non-Amazon apps article, the 1mobile apps site ( http://bit.ly/1mobilecom-apps ) carries most of the popular Google Play apps.

      Hope you can get it working soon again.

      Delete
  2. hi.. how do you download the subtitles in tubemate? thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never realized they weren't. I'd contact the developer of Tubemate as he has a site, which you can get to from the app, I believe. I got a notice today that they're at v2.0.6 (rounded) and downkloaded it.

      Delete

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