Monday, October 31, 2011

CIFS mounting – webOS vs. Android


So I’ve been experimenting CIFS mounting on both webOS and Android lately. The CIFS mounting mounts a windows SAMBA network and displays as a folder in webOS or Android system, so that you can access your network share files as if they are local files. It’s a cool way to share music and video files, the ones that are typically large in size and cannot be conveniently copied or limited by the size of internal storage of Touchpad (32GB is still small). For my personal interest, I’m particularly interested in playing large video files (mkv) on Touchpad without transcoding. So let’s see how it plays out on Touchpad.


So on the webOS side, we have Network Drives, a homebrew CIFS mounting program. It was relatively easy to use. It supports unicode. Other programs including Kalemsoft media player and Internalz pro (need to enable hidden files) can access the shared files. The only issue I have with this program is sometimes I’m unable to unmount it unless I reboot. But otherwise it’s been pretty solid. Now the video playback part, on webOS, we only have two choices aside from the official player: Touchplayer (a port of mplayer) and Kalemsoft media player. Touchplayer only does soft decoding, and for me it’s not working at all. Kalemsoft media player, $5.99 is probably the only and the best choice for webOS platform. It does play majority of the video formats. It plays mkv to some degree since there are so many codecs supported by the format, it’s not easy to play everything. As for the mounting part, since it’s using wifi, anything HD or high bitrate will have trouble play smoothly.


For Kalemsoft media player, the 0.4 update is quite significant. It can read unicode pretty well. It has a really well thought interface that includes a preview window with stream selector. BTW, it has really good performance with wmv. The wmv files shared from Japanese P2P somehow are packed differently with the audio, so that my PS3 always have problem picking up the audio, same thing happened on Android platform, but Kalemsoft plays them without any issue.


It even detects the secondary video stream from some Japanese ts streams. But unfortunately as the stream is HD, it’s unable to stream it smoothly. It’s more like playing powerpoint…


The 0.4 beta now supports srt, ssa, and ass subtitles. But unfortunately you don’t have much control over how to display them. First off, there’s no border on the subtitles, well you can choose to show the backgrounds like the hearing aid type, but for normal subtitles, there’s just no border which means if you were playing any 4:3 content, the subtitles will go blend into the background. You do get the choice to set a few, mostly primary/secondary colors, but white is always my preference. You can’t control the subtitle position, which means for 16:9 content, the subtitles will show up in the black bar, a good way to solve the color blending problem… Also the default font size, even with the largest, it’s still on the small side as seen in the screen cap. For mkv, I tried some 720P anime fansubs, which played pretty well. But for high bitrate HD video, especially the ones with DTS, it still choked. But still, these are the best result you’ll ever seen on touchpad without transcoding.


On the Android side, we have CifsManager. It is not very intuitive as it requires rooting and the matching kernel module (cifs.ko) file in order to display files in unicode, otherwise you get a bunch of squares. Or another choice is ES file explorer, which supports SMB share directory, not in the same sense as real mounting, but it’s just far more straightforward.

And for the players, we have tons of choices, but the results are quite similar – they don’t work as good as Kalemsoft media player for webOS. It maybe a problem with current CM mod not fully enable hardware acceleration or software decoding, or video players for Android just plain suck.

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