For some reason, I can't get MPlayer to seek properly. Whenever I use the arrow keys to try to fast forward or rewind, they skip to what appear to be chapters in the files, there's no smooth way to move around during playback. I think that the up and down arrows are working alright (they move backward/forward 1 minute), but that's not fine-grained enough. I've noticed it when playing both DVDs and also <code>.mov</code> files.
Also, I wondered how you're supposed to know the best driver to use under Preferences -> Video. I have these listed, and don't know what the differences are:
xv X11/Xv x11 X11 (XImage/Shm ) gl X11 (OpenGL) gl2 X11 (OpenGL) - multiple textures version xvidix X11 (VIDIX)
Any suggestions on preference settings that will help out?
MPlayer can only seek to keyframes, so the seeking may skip a couple of seconds. Left/right arrow keys seek 10 seconds back/forward in the video stream, and after that the playback resumes from the next keyframe. It sounds odd if you can only skip between chapters with the left and right arrow keys. The keybindings can be customized by editing ~/.mplayer/input.conf, if that would be of any help.
Xv is a good choice if the display driver supports it (check the output of 'xvinfo'), it does video scaling in hardware and is usually faster than gl/gl2. X11 has no hardware acceleration but can be ok if you have a fast CPU. Xvidix needs root, I think (I have never tested it).
Thanks for the display driver info sh___!
I know that the seeking is only supposed to jump forward/backward 10 seconds (when using the arrow left/right keys), but it doesn't do that for me. Perhaps it's just been the random assortment of videos I've tried to watch, but it acted in a similar fashion for DVDs as well. For an example, the Ruby on Rails screencasts have this problem on my machine (see: http://www.rubyonrails.com/screencasts). Does anyone else get this?
Also, is there a way to navigate DVD menus using MPlayer, or is different software required?
Not sure about DVD menu support in mplayer, but you could try ogle-gui in community or goggles in AUR. I usually use one of these to play DVD and both have menu support.