MobileTechReview.com PDA, Notebook and Phone Reviews and buyers guide
PDA Phone Notebooks Gaming Gadgets iPhone & iPad Shop Discussion

 

Review of 3 Video Players for Palm OS PDAs and Smartphones: Kinoma, MMPlayer and TealMovie
Posted May 1, 2005 by Tanker Bob

Page 2, Continued

MMPlayer 0.2.14 from MMPlayer.com

MMPlayer has been the darling of the geek multimedia world since its re lease. It plays both videos and MP3 audio files, so serves as a universal player of sorts. It was relatively unchallenged in geekdom for a long time, but recently the pack has been moving up on it as we just saw. Note that I used the included “Blue” skin for testing.

 

MMPlayer video screen shot

 

The opening screen looks great, like a video player ready to do business. Tapping on the + button opens a file directory display on the card from which you may add videos or music to play. Tapping the – button removes a file from the play list. MMPlayer doesn’t search the disk for supported files on its own. The arrows on the bottom left of the selected file list reorder the play order of the files. The other controls tailor the user experience by adjusting the video brightness and contrast, audio equalizer, balance, and volume. The equalizer, repeat, and shuffle buttons toggle those features. Of course, the usual player buttons for play, pause, skip ahead and back occupy the lower left.

 

screen shot

 

The user may store videos anywhere on the card and then select them from this file screen. All supported formats will be listed, including music. Individual files may be selected or all as a group. After selecting all desired files, their play order may be changed as described above.

Smaller format movies with 320 or less pixel-width play nicely above the controls. All controls may be changed during play, including screen orientation on the T3. Full screen may be chosen simply by tapping on the screen. MMPlayer includes an On Screen Display (OSD) that uses the four Palm PIM buttons when playing full screen. Also, the T3’s 5-way navigator can be used to control basic play features like volume, pause/play, and next/previous video.

 

Star Wars video

 

The full screen screen shot comes from a special 480x208, 25 frames/second Star Wars video in MPEG format which I found on PDAVideos.com. This video’s format and speed will outrun any unaided PDA, even the 400 MHz Tungsten C and T3. Overclocking my T3 to 588 MHz with PXAClocker 4.3 Pro enabled it to play the video quite nicely. The I Robot trailer was coded at a slower frame rate (~15 fps I think) and smaller screen size (320x176) and played fine without overclocking. The video in both cases proceeded smoothly with brilliant color and their sound “filled the theater” even without the equalizer, providing an outstanding user experience.

MMPlayer doesn’t provide an easy way to discern the encoding parameters of videos, but it does have an extensive monitoring function. These monitoring results display on a Statistics screen available from the menu. The screen shot shows the excellent performance of the 25 fps Star Wars video described above with the T3 overclocked to 588 MHz— it only dropped 6/3763 frames. This screen may be used to tweak the extensive options available on the Settings screens. There is also a benchmarking function that will run a video as fast as possible to determine your device’s playback limits.

 

screen shot

 

As for settings, MMPlayer provides a host of adjustments to optimize the user experience. The video, audio, playback buffers, display, warnings, and streaming settings may all be changed. The buffer setting screen also provides a display of both the storage and dynamic memory heap size and availability, enabling the user to troubleshoot problems or set the buffer sizes within reason. For average video playing, the user doesn’t need to adjust any of these advanced settings, but then who can resist?

MMPlayer doesn’t have dedicated video construction software because it plays native desktop formats. There’s an interesting discussion in the manual about file compatibilities from which I learned a number of things that helped overall with this review. The tested version includes MPEG-1,2,4, H.263, DivX, XviD and MJPeg video codec in one library file. These files generally have MPEG or AVI extensions. Like the other players, MMPlayer’s web site has a number of nice examples, including an outstanding hi res ZZ Top music video that required slight overclocking (472 MHz) to run in full landscape without frame dropouts.

MMPlayer also doubles as an MP3 audio player. In this role, it reads M3U playlist files but doesn’t have the sophisticated metadata handling of PocketTunes. The sound output rivals the best of the dedicated audio players even without the equalizer, but lacks the common features of other audio players. It does support screen blanking, though, to save battery during audio playback. I wouldn’t recommend MMPlayer as your only audio player, but if you mainly watch videos and only occasionally listen to MP3s it may do just fine for you.

As if that wasn’t enough, MMPlayer will also stream from http addresses on the web. There’s a dedicated setup screen for streaming settings. I didn’t have a way to test this capability. It also has a bookmark function that works in all modes. There are a number of skins both provided in the distribution archive and available on the web to modify MMPlayer’s appearance to your liking.

Because MMPlayer doesn’t require a dedicated file format, there exists no dedicated software to generate videos for MMPlayer. However, the manual and web site recommend a number of quality (including free) software packages to create videos in standard formats. The manual also includes step-by-step directions for the process.

MMPlayer 0.2.14 holds the title for most sophisticated Palm OS multimedia player. The shareware version only plays unimpeded for a minute before a nag screen displays and the volume decreases. Registration goes for $14.95. If you’re looking for a multimedia player with the maximum flexibility, outstanding play quality, and are comfortable reformatting or converting videos too large for the PDA screen if necessary on your own to bring them from your desktop, look no further.

Pros:

Excellent sound and video quality out of the box
Readily-accessible controls for video settings and an equalizer for sound quality
Natively plays MPEG-1,2,4, H.263, DivX, XviD and MJPeg desktop video formats
Plays common MP3 audio files
Maximum control over playback parameters
Measures and records playback quality statistics

Cons:

May be too complex for some
No dedicated conversion/reformatting desktop program
Palm OS 5 handhelds or better only

$14.95

 

NEXT -> TealMovie

 

Back to MobileTechReview.com Home Questions? Comments? Post them in our Discussion Forum!