One of the long-time limitations of Apple's iOS devices has been their inability to deal with media files in formats beyond those few that Apple prescribes. But a new app, NXP Software's CineXPlayer, now lets iPad users play video files encoded in the popular Xvid format.
Xvid files are often distributed in AVI containers; on the Mac, additional codec software such as Perian is usually required to play them back.
CineXPlayer doesn't need any such fiddling, however: all you have to do is load your movie files onto the iPad using iTunes's built-in File Sharing feature. There's no need to convert the files to MP4 format, and there's even an advantage over play-anything streaming apps such as Air Video: having a local copy means that you can even watch the videos when you don't have a network connection.
CineXPlayer's user interface is pretty spartan: by default, the app shows you a list of the video files you've transferred--tap any of them to begin playback. The controls are a little less elegant than the iPad's own Videos app, but you can play, pause, adjust the volume, switch to fullscreen mode, and scrub through a video with ease. You can also delete videos from inside the app just by swiping over them, as you would a message in Mail.
As CineXPlayer's developer admits, not all Xvid files play back equally right now: MKV containers or videos with AC3 sound are specifically called out, but problems may exist with other files as well. Two out of three movies I loaded onto the iPad would not play at all, but at least CineXPlayer gave me an option to e-mail the developer with information about the video. NXP says it will improve support for in future versions.
CineXPlayer is free and requires an iPad running iOS 3.2 or later. CineXPlayer is currently not listed in the UK Apple Store.