The is a review of Presto Player, a new video player for WordPress. Presto Player has a large number of user interface and optimization options. There are several video hosting options. There is the ability to make videos public or private. There are analytics options. There is a Gutenberg block and an Elementor widget. In other words, it is very full featured, especially for a new plugin. In this post, I’m going to do a walkthrough and review so you can decide if it might be a good fit for you.
The Free Version
There is a free version of the Presto Player available in the WordPress plugin directory.
Settings for the Free Version
When you install the free version you get a new menu item in the WordPress admin for Presto Player. The first menu item is for the Media Hub. This is a place where you can add videos and have them available to pick from in other programs.
When you click Add New you get an interface to add a video.
I gave it a title, clicked the YouTube button, and added the video URL. When you add a video then there are options on the right side. Chapters, Muted Autoplay Preview, and Add New Preset are pro features. With the free version you can set it to Autoplay (if the user’s browser allows it) and Play Inline on the page. There is also the option to add a “Poster Image,” which is a thumbnail overlay for the video. There are several Presets available: Default, Simple, and Minimal show different video controls. Course is available for when you want the viewer’s progress saved in a cookie so they can pickup the video location if they leave the page and return.
After you save the video and return to the hub you can see it a list. There you see the name you gave it, a shortcode you can use anywhere in WordPress, and a PHP function call if you want to use that.
The Analytics tab is just for Pro. Under Settings there are two pages. The first one is for General Settings. In the General Settings area you can select you brand color. If you have Pro you can also set a logo. You have the option to turn on Analytics (Pro only), and the option to delete all of the Presto Player information if you decide to uninstall the plugin. I tried the uninstall option and it left some settings behind. I reported this and I imagine the team will address that in the future.
I set the brand color to green for testing.
The Integrations options are also Pro only.
The Gutenberg Blocks
When you are in the Gutenberg editor there are three blocks available. There is one for use with Vimeo, one for YouTube, and one for self-hosted videos in the event you were uploading a video to your site.
If you add the Presto Video block (self hosted) to the page you get an interface to pick your video. You see the Make Private option is Pro only.
If you click on the “Video URL” link instead, you get a dialog box to enter a YouTube, Vimeo, or MP4 link.
The Vimeo block just gives you the option to enter a Vimeo URL.
I wanted to try out the player to see its options using one of my YouTube videos, so I added the Presto YouTube Video block to the page and got a simple interface to add the video URL.
When you add the video URL, it loads the video and you get some block options on the right side. These are the same options we had when loading a video to the hub.
Note that there is another way to add a video. Presto adds an icon in the upper right corner of the editor.
When you click on that you you see a list of the videos you added in the hub and these will have their customization options that you set in the hub applied when they are added in Gutenberg.
Saving the page, I then went to look at it on the front-end.
Presto adds one widget to the Elementor editor.
When you drag that to the page then there are settings on the left where you can pick a video from the hub. Again, when you add a video from the hub then the customization options you selected in the hub are brought over and applied in Elementor.
If you click the Edit Video or Create New Video buttons you go to the hub for those operations. A cool feature is that you can add an Elementor video using the dynamic data option in the event that you had a custom field where the video URL was stored. Otherwise, the widget doesn’t have any further custom options in Elementor.
The Pro Version of Presto Player
The Pro version is available from the Presto Player website. It is available as an annual subscription for 1 or 25 sites, as well as a 25 site lifetime option. There may be a limit to the number of years of support for the lifetime option.
The Pro version of the Presto Player plugin requires the free, or “core,” version also be installed. After you install and activate the Pro version, there are a lot more options available both in the WordPress Admin menu and in Gutenberg.
Not surprising, there is a new submenu for entering the license key in the WordPress admin.
Then, when editing a video in the hub (or in Gutenberg), all of the “Pro” features that were locked with the free version are now available.
You can create jump points, or chapters, by entering video progress time stamps and giving each one a name. Each chapter shows as a dot on the video duration bar. This is great for long videos \as it makes it easy for people to jump to the parts of the video they are most interested in.
Muted Autoplay Option
Muted Autoplay is a feature that can grab visitors’ attention and might encourage them to play the video. One thing to consider before turning this on, is if you have set to lazy-load the video for better page speed loading (see below), than this will negate that benefit, so select one or the other feature.
Creating a Video Preset
A big feature of the Pro version is the ability to create a video preset. When you create a preset you start by giving it a name, and then go through three screens of options. On the Controls screen you pick which controls you want to show and allow the user to use. These controls show up on the play bar at the bottom of the video. Note, on this screen there is also, above the video, a dropdown for Basic or Stacked, and this controls how the bar looks.
On the Behavior screen there are a lot of important options. Usually you would want to auto-hide the video controls so they are not in the way while the video is being viewed. There is the option to save the player position, which would be good for a course lesson so that the student can easily pick up where they left off. Sticky on Scroll is a feature that moves your video to the lower right corner of the screen when the user scrolls down the page. This allows the user to see and hear the video while viewing the page content.
There are two YouTube specific settings. There is the “Experimental” option to hide much of the YouTube branding. I think this is called experimental because YouTube can change up the way things work at any time. A nice thing to note about this is it will only show your own videos on the ending screen, and not show other random videos from other creators.
The Lazy Load Videos feature is very important for performance of initial page load. By default all of the YouTube video features and content are loaded automatically. This can slow up the page load. By “lazy loading” the video, you delay that until the user clicks on the video to play it.
The last screen is the Style screen. Here you can hide the logo (if you uploaded one), set rounded corners for the player, and set the Caption Style. A Default caption style shows the text over the bottom third of the video, while the Full captions style puts a small bar across the bottom of the video, which is where the text will show. You can set the caption bar background, if using Full.
When you save your preset you are taken back to editor screen. Unlike the default presets, custom presets can be edited or deleted. Hover your mouse over a custom preset for those options.
The next panel in the settings area is for setting some branding options. With Pro, you can add a logo which will show in the lower right corner of the video. You can also set the accent color for the player, which will show as the color of the play button (available with free).
The Analytics options are unlocked with Pro. With Analytics you have the ability to see, on your site without going to Google Analytics, some stats about number of views, top videos, watch time and where people drop off and quit watching.
General Branding Page
On the Settings / General tab you can set a global default for logo and brand color.
On the integrations page you can send Google Analytics events associated with the videos to Google, and use existing analytics tags or add your own Google Analytics tag (Measurement ID) if preferred.
The Bunny.net Video section is just a link to instructions on how to add a video hosted on Bunney.net to your pages.
Extra Gutenberg Blocks
With the Pro version of the Presto Player you have some more Gutenberg options. With the free version you get:
- Presto Vimeo,
- Presto YouTube, and
- Presto Video (self hosted).
With Pro you get three more block options:
- Presto Bunny.net (public),
- Presto Bunny.net Private, and
- “Private Private,” which I think is supposed to be “Presto Private” for self-hosted private videos.
The general Presto Video block and the Private Private block are the same, but one has the private option enabled by default. Videos streamed from your site will use your hosting bandwidth and your site storage quota. In many cases self-hosted videos are not a good idea. The message says that the private video will be streamed using PHP and warns of bandwidth and storage considerations.
The side player customization options for Pro are the same as those we looked at in the hub interface for Pro. There aren’t any differences with the Elementor widget between Presto free and Pro.
Discussion and Conclusions
You may think that with thousands of plugins available for WordPress that there couldn’t be anything new. So it is nice to see Presto Player addressing an underserved niche. The offering is surprisingly stable and full featured for a brand new plugin. This is especially true for the Pro version, where currently most of the interesting features are.
Presto Player Pro comes with two CDN options, Vimeo and Bunny.net. I understand they are considering adding Amazon S3 as well. I have never used Vimeo, but my understanding is that you have a lot of control for restricting access to your videos, but it is pretty expensive. Bunny.net on the other hand is comparatively inexpensive.
Another service that Bunny.net offers is inexpensive cloud hosting. This is actually what you would use if you were using Bunny.net with Presto Player Pro. There are two parts to the cloud hosting costs. First, you pay a storage cost of 1/2 cent up to 11 cents per gigabyte per month depending on how many zones you want to use. On top of the storage cost there is a bandwidth charge which is the same as the CDN bandwidth charge. So, if you are uploading videos to Bunny.net then you want to optimize them to be smaller by using a tool like Handbrake. YouTube currently does the optimization for you, but Bunny.net does not. Even though there are two charges for hosting videos on Bunny.net, the cost is still very small.
Videos hosted on Bunny.net can be restricted to only be viewable with links from domains you specify. This is a nice feature that helps to keep the URL from being shared and accessed in ways you don’t want. My understanding is that you can use this feature with the Presto Bunny.net public block. The private version of the Bunny.net block would be for logged in users only.
I did some testing of the Pro version of Presto Player with YouTube videos using the lazy load option. What I found was that performance was about the same, or perhaps a tad better, as just using the default Gutenberg YouTube embed block. So, you get a ton of nice customization options for similar performance, which is a good benefit. Remember that Presto Player Pro also lets you minimize YouTube branding, which is another YouTube related feature.
I’ve focused a lot in this discussion on the hosting options, but let’s not loose site of the fact that this is a video player and, as such, it has many nice user interface customization options. It really shines when used with Gutenberg, but is also usable with its Elementor widget or with other builders by using a shortcode. They are adding a Beaver Builder module and plan to support other builders. Presto Player Pro is easy to use and it would be a good choice for people who want to have more control over the video experience or who wish to restrict access to video content for online courses and similar membership purposes. So, that is my walk-through and review of the Presto Player plugin. I hope you have found it helpful.