RK Player

Asus Tinker Board – Hardware Accelerated RockChip Video Player – Initial Release

RockChip Video Player (RK Player)

Asus released a new beta of TinkerOS on their website yesterday. One interesting addition is the initial release of a dedicated video player, RK Player. What makes RK Player interesting? Simply, the video app uses the hardware acceleration features found on the Tinker Board to play video encoded using H.264 and H.265.

With the new release of TinkerOS, Asus’s website has prepared a brief support guide to the RK Player. It’s pretty important you read the guide, as you may initially think RK Player hasn’t been installed on the system. This is because the binary file, player, is not stored in a directory listed in the shell’s PATH. It’s not been added to the menu system. Instead it’s’s buried in the filesystem at /usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/qt5/examples/multimediawidgets/player/. The guide recommends copying the file to a more convenient location. Alternatively, add the directory to the PATH. I’ll be kind about the unprofessional guide (blurry screenshots, broken English – seriously from Asus?) – clearly Asus is keen on releasing the player at the earliest opportunity so the community can test it out. Let’s take a look at RK Player in action.

RK Player is built using Qt5, a full development framework with tools designed to streamline the creation of applications and user interfaces. As this is the first release of the RK Player, I’m expecting basic features only and bugs. Curiously ./player -v outputs the version information: 5.7.1.

Below is a screenshot of RK Player in action. The player offers basic functionality with playback buttons, a volume slider with mute, a full screen option, and a button which switches from EGL to DRM. The guide recommends you select DRM for best performance. The interface appears to allow you to open multiple videos, which are listed in the right hand pane, although this functionality doesn’t actually work properly. No matter. The interface is minimalist, but so what? This is the initial release.

RK Player

A clip from The Simpson Movie encoded using H.264 with: 1920×800, 23.967 FPS, Audio AAC, 5.1 Channel.

Playback

What’s important in this first release is primarily the quality of playback of H264 and H265 encoded videos, and the system load.

Sample demo clips from H264info.com are conveniently to hand, so I test with them. The clips are all encoded using H.264 mostly at a 1920×816 resolution, although the Gravity trailer is encoded at 2048×858. Audio is played back over Bluetooth to a Cambridge Audio Minx GO.

It’s good to report that most of the video clips played back well. Playback was definitely not perfect, particularly in full screen mode. There was some tearing evident in full screen mode, but the Tinker Board kept up with playback with no stuttering. A few of the clips suffered corruption in full screen mode; selecting the DRM mode made no visible difference. The Serenity 720p ‘On HD DVD’ Trailer suffered from a horribly distorted image. But overall, playback of most clips was good, particularly for an initial release which is clearly alpha quality.

This is the system load when playing back the Gravity trailer. Pretty impressive results.

htop

The video player can only play H.264 and H.265 videos, so don’t bother experimenting with videos encoded with other compression standards. Please share your experiences with the video player.

For more information about the Asus Tinker Board, read our two page review.

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