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

Page 3, Continued

TealPoint’s TealMovie 3.94 from TealPoint

TealMovie stands as a pretty basic video player. Since TealPoint never responded to our request for a full copy, we tested with the demo version. We can’t guarantee that the demo version provides the same experience of the full version, but we couldn’t find any limitations listed on TealPoint’s web site or in the manual.

 

TealMovie screen shot

 

The opening screen for TealMovie provides a file manager display. Since TealMovie only uses dedicated files converted to Palm pdb format, all its videos may be located in RAM or on a card. Files may be located anywhere on the card with this file manager scheme. The bar at the bottom should be used to select the function the user desires to perform on the file to be selected next, including playing the file, looping its play, information on the file, rename, delete, move, or beam it.

The info screen provides the encoding parameters of the file. TealMovie lists all the critical parameters on this screen. As an aside, all the Teal videos that I found were on the TealPoint web site and encoded at 14 frames per second.

movie player screen

Selecting Play on the bottom of the file display and tapping on a video file starts the movie. If the video is encoded in true color, a bar display pops up saying that TealMovie is preparing for Truecolor. None of the other players did this and I’m not sure what TealMovie was doing. This preparation took several seconds. After that, the video plays normally. Upon pause, a bar appears at the bottom of the screen with common functions. The Sync checkbox keeps the audio and video in sync when checked, but may produce playback problems if the PDA’s performance cannot keep up with the clip.

 

screen shot

 

Other primary playback settings only appear in the menus. Volume settings are strangely discreet rather than continuous. You can tell the software how to sync the audio and video and the CPU speed of your PDA on a Motorola Dragonball or can have it sense the speed on other processors. Sound can also be boosted and system OS events may be ignored during the playback. If you have a Sony Clié, you may play an MP3 file along with a silent video, kinda like the old silent movie days.

I used two movie trailers for testing, both true color at 320x240 and 14 fps. One was the Hulk trailer and the other the trailer from SciFi’s Taken, from whence the screen shot was…well, taken. Play generally proceeded smoothly, although the color seemed washed out compared to the other players. Fast scene changes sometimes produced some momentary pixilation even on the T3. The stereo separation was weak and overall sound quality seemed flat at best, even at elevated volumes. The contrast with the other two players reviewed proved stark.

 

TealMovie screen shot

 

Control during playback could only be accomplished through the hard buttons. The PDA buttons may be set to an extensive array of functions. A button’s function can be set differently for different modes of operation.

In addition to video clips, TealMovie will play uncompressed WAV files. It limits WAV playback to 10 KHz and 8-bit mode.

Since TealMovie plays no native desktop file formats and most (nearly all?) of the videos available on the web target Kinoma and MMPlayer, TealMovie is almost wholly dependent on its included video conversion software. Installing TealMovie includes installing a video creation program and a player for TealMovie videos on the PC. It limits input formats to AVI, Quicktime, and WAV files. I did not test this video creation program because of the poor performance of the player, but the manual includes detailed instructions for converting files. Even a novice should be able to convert videos easily.

TealMovie 3.94 proved a basic video player with marginal color fidelity and poor stereo separation. The registration fee is $29.95 and includes the video creation software as well as the handheld viewer. While TealMovie may be suitable for an OS 4 or earlier device, I cannot recommend it for more capable OS 5 devices.

Pros:

Works on Palm OS 4 devices
Plays WAV files
Includes video creation software
Nice file manager built-in

Cons:

Poor color fidelity even in “Truecolor” mode
Poor stereo separation
Doesn’t play any PC-native video formats
Format conversions input limited to AVI, Quicktime, and WAV files

$29.95

 

Conclusion

There can be no doubt that Kinoma changed the multimedia-player game with version 3.1 EX. Before that re lease, MMPlayer ruled the roost all alone. Now, the MPEG-4, AAC, etc. support in Kinoma 3.1 EX and its very high quality video and sound output have leveled that part of the playing field. MMPlayer 0.2.14 still provides far greater flexibility in controlling the user-experience for those so inclined, but Kinoma’s high quality playback doesn’t seem to need user help. Kinoma Producer 3.1 may tip the scales for those like me who aren’t video conversion/reformatting mavens. But overall, there’s no clear winner between the two, just something good for two different user types. Competition made the market stronger, and everybody won. Well, except TealMovie, which seems to have suspended serious development with the passing of Palm OS 4.

The End

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