Testing Battery Life Across Media Players and Video Formats

By Julio Franco · 24 replies
Mar 31, 2014
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  1. misor likes this.
  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,666   +1,951

    If you search for videos in the new format, you will find that most of the time they use x265 in the title, nobody really uses HEVC, as it is a mouthful.

    x265 playback is still fairly fresh, although there are many videos that can already be found in this format.

    I have a collection of movies in 1080P at 60fps MKV, the best quality movies that exist at the moment, including the ones that do not officially exist, like "The Gravity" at 60fps - the only way to watch it. And honestly, quality of the movies and quality of the playback matter much more than the battery life :) I think those who started adopting UHD will agree ;)

    Windows Media player maybe more efficient than VLC in some cases, but does it really scale when playing very heavy files?

    I can throw any bit-rate of 4K video at VLC, and it plays them all without stuttering. I think you may need more extensive tests ;)

    I don't have a single 4K at 60fps, they do not exist just yet, but surely they will make a good test for batteries ;)
    misor likes this.
  3. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,285   +243

    Are x265 better than the old x264 h.264 format?
  4. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,963   +231

    In terms of battery life, no, because decoding is CPU intense. However, it looks great for the bitrate, easily beats H.264 on quality.

    I'd love to test this, but each battery test takes a very long time, and with the HTC One M8 in my hands I had to stop testing and finalize the article. So for the player tests I chose the most common format type. I may revisit the topic in the future though
    misor likes this.
  5. Mieksr

    Mieksr TS Enthusiast Posts: 42   +8

    Thanks for the test results. I have been using MPC for more than 5 years and always thought it was the most efficient.
    Can we maybe to these test on Apple hardware?
  6. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 955   +515

    Not surprised that the most popular format gets the best score, but I'm a little surprised that the metro app is most efficient. I guess it's because of little overhead and how light it can be...
  7. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,198   +593

    I have loads of videos ranging from low quality 360p all the way up to 1080p in many formats (Mostly MKV for its dual audio capabilities). As far as media players go, I have stuck with Media Player Classic mostly due to the fact that VLC has had issues in hte past on high resolutions and corruptions when running MKV video formats at 720p and above.

    At the club I used to be a part of when I was at university a few years back we used to watch movies and we swapped to Media Player Classic because of issues I mentioned before. We ended up switching just because it worked under every situation with no issues what so ever.

    This is a really interesting article, I never guessed the differences between media players and battery life were so high. I will probably still be sticking with Media Player Classic for most of my needs, but ill just use the built in on my surface pro when im watching in a basic media file format.

    Great Article!
  8. Would love to see ARM Windows tablets similarly stress tested, and that too with 720p, 1080p and 4K MKVs. Please do so in a follow-up article.
  9. Unfortunately some reviewers use Google Chrome and VLC when comparing web browsing and video playback battery life on Windows 8 tablets with iPad/Android tablets, which makes their conclusions completely wrong.

    That also explains why we see so much difference between different reviews of the same devices.

    The most interesting part of this review is that the Metro Video App included in Windows performs much better than WMP. Metro haters would certainly expect the opposite.
  10. That difference is insane! Way to go Microsoft!
  11. Had no idea the Videos app was so efficient, it lacks some features but for simply watching a movie or TV show that needs no messing with, it's perfect.
  12. gamoniac

    gamoniac TS Guru Posts: 306   +73

    Good read.
  13. To bad Daum Potplayer wasn't included. Very popular player and aimed for Windows. And IMO better than VLC. Probably lower on battery usage, too.
  14. My Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 with mobile keyboard can go for 5 days straight without a charge. Browsing, playing metro based games, watching TV shows in Videos app, streaming across my workgroup, etc. Really impressed with it.
  15. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    Great article. Now that VLC has released their Windows 8 optimized video player, they should turn their focus to more efficient playback.

    Julio Franco The graphs look great. The watermark makes them look so official :D.
  16. Jarek Duda

    Jarek Duda TS Rookie

    Recently there has appeared a new approach to entropy coding (ANS): combining accuracy of arithmetic coding with speed (computational cost) of Huffman coding (some implementation with benchmarks: https://github.com/Cyan4973/FiniteStateEntropy/tree/master/data ), so we should expect better battery life in the next generation of video codecs.
  17. dikbozo

    dikbozo TS Booster Posts: 82

    I must be getting old.

    To watch any video on a POS like a tablet gadget should be a pain, literally in the temples. You indicate an alternative laptop but I fail to find any evidence of its use anywhere in this article. It seems dishonest to mention it as an alternative but then never show any of its actual use. This article needs to be fully rewritten to correct this omission.

    On point with what was published, an 8" screen to watch 9+ hours of video seems to be an exercise in pain inducement. The slightest flicker would drive me over the edge after a marathon like that. 9 hours of video playback on this device would be a difficult experience for an older person. The small screen, the awkward viewing angles due to constant shifting, the irritation in the ears from either audio phones or intently trying to hear any sounds through the small speaker(no stereo for you!) this thing has starts the list of annoyances in my estimation. Watching video on a larger display is simply not possible with this gadget as there is no connector.
  18. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,963   +231

    At TechSpot we always use the Videos app for video playback tests on Windows devices.
  19. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Evangelist Posts: 302   +108

    But as far as I know, the movie app doesn't play mkv movies. Is there other format that supports H.264 besides mkv???
  20. I personally never found VLC to be all that good, I dislike the way it rendered video. Not sure if it's been fixed since then but for desktop purposes I've always used WMP for audio and WMC for video. As I have no interest in buying a Windows 8 tablet this is all academic for me but it is interesting to see that the default metro app is the most efficient for tablet use.
  21. There is another "container" format in which you can place H264 videos. It's called mp4, which most devices support. Some support the mkv container, too. What is important is that the video is encoded with H264. The sound should be AAC, or there is no guarantee it will play.

    Btw, separate software (x264, x265) from codecs (H264, H265) and containers (mp4, mkv). Software implements codecs and codecs describe how compression is done. Containers describe the file layout for putting video and audio and possible other things (such as subtitles) into one file instead of multiple files.
  22. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,475   +126

    Of course there going to be huge amount of battery drain on all these tablets. Atom Dual Core uses a lot of battery. I have mine rigged to a 20,000 mAh external battery for backup. It's the only way to go if your using Atom core. Android tablets I've own all 40 since 2010, the drain on those ARM hasn't been peachy either. Panel uses up most of the battery itself with limited charging on some tablets like 300 times and battery won't charge again. Others tablets the life on the internal battery is still unknown without heavy testing.

    Still your test shows how these tablets run with high HD graphics, video and etc.. Not all what it was directed as it was. Tablet goes anywhere you are just make sure AC near by.
  23. TheNetAvenger

    TheNetAvenger TS Rookie

    Maybe you are getting old.

    These tablets have a fairly large viewing angle, above most consumer TV products.

    You can watch them on a larger screen, this tablet and most Windows 8.1 tablets inherently support both DLNA and Miracast even if they don't have an HDMI port.

    They also have a USB port, and with USB to HDMI/etc connectors are fast enough to content directly to a larger display.

    Some of the 8" tablets do have HDMI out and do have Stereo speakers, even if this unit does not.

    As for sound, have you consider Stereo Bluetooth or even a wired headset? This is what 'young' people use when they are privately watching a video.

    You can also just hook up the Stereo out to a Hi-Fi system, or use Bluetooth to an external set of speakers or Bluetooth input for your 1970s Hi-Fi system.

    You seem to forget there are a lot of environments where people would WANT a smaller 8" display, like on an Airplane or in a Car, etc.

    (I'm partially kidding you, because I'm probably older than you. You have outrage over things that are not only inaccurate, but you should understand may be important to others, even if they aren't to you.)
  24. TheNetAvenger

    TheNetAvenger TS Rookie

    Anyone that 'doubts' the difference between the Microsoft players and VLC should take a look at how Media Foundation works in Windows 8. VLC bypasses a lot of the inherent decoding and GPU offloading that are available in the OS.

    Windows 7/8 supports GPU assisted decoding even if the GPU doesn't inherently support the codec.

    (Lookup: Media Foundation Architecture)
  25. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,667   +1,101

    And what about audio/video quality while testing different video players with the same file? this might be the reason why some video players use more juice. I use potplayer and I have changed to settings a lot. from small changes to video codecs and other important changes. (it takes me an hour to redo them all :D )

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