Review of 3 Video Players for Palm OS PDAs
and Smartphones: Kinoma, MMPlayer and TealMovie Posted May 1, 2005 by Tanker Bob
Remember the days of 64k RAM Palm Pilots that barely held all your
PIM information? What a rush it has been as time flew by and handhelds
became almost mini-laptops! Although we still write reviews of calendaring
software, today enquiring minds want to know about playing movie
trailers and TV shows on their PDAs. We will scratch that itch for
Ideally, a reviewer would like to run the
same video on all programs to remove variables associated with
encoding software and parameters. Tanker Bob found this to be more
difficult than it sounds. The best I could do was hold the frame
rates and as many other parameters as constant as possible. Even
this didn’t work out as planned,
so I ended up stressing each program to as close as I could get to
We examined the three major players in the field. These included
Kinoma, originally included on Sony devices and some Palms, MMPlayer,
and TealMovie. TealPoint didn't seem anxious to have their app reviewed,
neglecting our repeated requests for a review copy. Rather than ignore
it, we used a trial version for the review.
I conducted all testing on a PalmOne Tungsten
T3 using an excellent Sony
MDR-EX71SL stereo headphones. Using landscape mode negatively
impacts the T3's performance. When necessary, I bumped up the system
clock with PXAClocker
4.3 Pro to run videos without dropping frames, noting the CPU
clock speed required. Another complication is that video players
write directly to the hardware to improve performance. As a result,
I could not get direct screen shots of the players while playing.
Shots of videos in progress are all paused, which often results
in outtakes that aren’t as clear as the actual video while
Each of the players provides sample files on their
web sites, and I used some of those during testing. PDAVideos.com provides
another excellent source of videos, especially movie trailers. Some
of these PDAVideos files provided an important independent source
with which to test the multimedia players and conversion utilities.
Bundled in a large number of Palm
OS devices, Kinoma Player 2.x has become ubiquitous. Even
if it didn't come with your PDA, you can download it for
free. Recently Kinoma re leased a new free version 3 as well
as a new non-free EX player that supports MPEG-4 and other
new formats. We tested the latter to see how well Kinoma
is running the race in this competitive field.
Kinoma could hardly be simpler to
operate. The opening screen provides a simple file list.
Tapping on the icons on the upper right rotates the display
between movies, music, images, interactive media, and all
supported formats. That’s right; Kinoma
now supports MPEG-4 AAC audio files (m4a), including unprotected
iTunes files, and will display JPEG images as well. Tapping
on the All icon in the far upper right produces a display of
all supported media types separated by color banners. Tapping
on the page icon in the right column displays that item’s
details like size and other information. Very slick!
Kinoma 3.1 EX has limited Preference options. Looping clips,
overdriving the audio, screen blanking, slide show delays,
audio output, and download location covers the entire option
set. Kinoma does have a performance testing mode to determine
the limits of your device.
Tapping on a file name starts the
video. The video play screen also presents a simple display
with the usual stop, play, pause, and rewind controls. The
rotation tool proved handy as it could switch to landscape
without the performance hit associated with that format in
the T3’s OS. The zoom tools make
it simple to size the video to your screen. I used the P-51
video for the screen shot because it was in larger format (320x240,
Kinoma 3 movie), but ran a Return of the King trailer in MPEG-4
(320x139, 388 bps video/98 bps audio) for actual testing.
The video and sound were excellent—significantly
better than the Kinoma 2.x player. Channel separation proved
superb and the bass almost made me feel that I was in the theater.
Although Kinoma has no way to measure play performance, I could
discern no loss of frames nor disconnect between the video
and audio at the T3’s standard 400 MHz speed. The MPEG-4
format came in at about 62% of the standard Kinoma 3 format
for identical movies, so you can save considerable card space
with the EX player.
Used as a viewer, Kinoma displayed JPEG
images quickly when selected. Only the largest JPEGs at 400x600
had any significant display delay. I played several MPEG-4
audio songs at 127 bps. The quality without any equalizer or
boost proved equal or better than any of the current audio
players on the market. The file size seemed comparable to
MP3 for similar play-length songs at the same encoding bit
rate but sounded significantly better. Music can be sorted
by album, artist, or title, but there is no sophisticated organization
by encoded metadata as in PocketTunes.
Kinoma 3.1 EX also supports panoramic
and interactive images. The former consists of a movie-like
turn about a point to show the surroundings—essentially
overlapped JPEGs. The latter are collections of images with
an organized table of contents as illustrated in the screen
shot. Both worked fine, but the interactives tend to be large
files depending on the number and quality of images included.
Other features in Kinoma 3.1 EX include
support for streamed movies using Bluetooth, 802.11, and mobile
phone networks. It also plays unprotected iTunes, Quick Time,
and even mobile phone 3GP files.
The basic Kinoma 3 player is also available. It is limited
to standard Kinoma format movies and JPEG viewing, so has a
fraction of the features of the full EX version.
Producer 3.1 can create Kinoma-specific format videos or
convert/reformat PC-native videos for up to 480x320 screen sizes.
Input files can be unprotected MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MS-DVR,
Quick Time, WMV, WMA, AVI, DV, DivX, MP3, AIFF, AU, and ACC formatted
files, as well as a host of still image formats. Output video
files may be MPEG-4, Kinoma, or Quick Time format. Producer can
also batch process input files and transfer the output files
to your handheld. The product has a two-week trial period (without
MPEG-4 support) and sells separately for $29.99.
I effortlessly converted WMV, AVI, and MPG video files to MPEG-4
format in Producer. Just drag a file (or files) into the file list
window, choose your device and the output format, tweak the settings
if desired, and hit the convert button. It could hardly be easier.
All played excellently on my T3. The MPEG-4 compression saved a
bunch of room on the card, dropping one MPEG file from 12MB to
9MB and one MPG file from 22MB to just under 4MB! I also converted
a number of MP3s to MPEG-4 audio format without issue, saving about
20-25% in space for each.
Overall, I came away very impressed with
the new Kinoma 3.1 EX. You can download it for a 2-week trial,
after which it registers for $19.99. With all the new flexibility
and features, Kinoma clearly has not just risen to but surmounted
the multimedia competitive challenges. If you’re looking
for high-quality playback, simplicity of operation, and a wide
variety of supported formats, Kinoma 3.1 EX may be your best
Support for unprotected MPEG-4 video and audio files, AAC files,
MQV, Quick Time, H.263 video, 3GP video, and JPEG images on the
MPEG-4 videos produce excellent quality at 62% the size of previous
Great sound and video quality
Outstanding conversion/reformatting program in
Kinoma Producer 3.1 (not included with handheld version)
Limited control over playback details
Doesn’t support MP3
Palm OS 5 and higher only