Kinoma Player 4 EX and its companion desktop application Kinoma Producer are the latest video converter and player produced by Kinoma for the Palm OS. I had the opportunity to play around with them over the last couple of months and found much to like about them.
Ever since I bought an Archos AV380 video converter a few years back I have been interested in watching my movies and TV shows on the go. I also use Beyond TV to record shows in DivX format that can be played on several devices.
Years ago I tried using the versions of Kinoma Player/Producer 2 which was bundled with my Tapwave Zodiac; I could get pretty decent video quality but at that time Kinoma Producer created Palm database files (pdb) that were generally pretty large if you wanted decent quality.
That’s why I switched to MM Player, then TCPMP since the files were smaller, and often times I didn’t even need to convert my existing DivX video files.
Since version 2 of Producer, Kinoma has made many improvements to create a more versatile and powerful application. The biggest improvement is the large array of file types that can be converted with a quick drag and drop.
The file types now supported are MPEG-1. MPEG-4, MP3, QuickTime, 3GPP, 3GPP-2, DivX, AVI, WAVE, AIFF, and AU; and on Windows it can also convert MPEG-2, Windows Media, and MS-DVR files. And because Kinoma Producer 4 supports QuickTime and DirectShow (on Windows only) you can convert many other file format supported by these widely used media architectures.
Another nice feature is the pre-set encoding profiles. There are over 40 to pick from for devices such as the Zodiac, Playstation Portable, iPod, Treo, Palm TX, etc. It can even encode in Windows Media 9 format for Windows Mobile devices.
If you want to tweak the settings a bit, you can choose between MPEG-4 and Windows Media 9 file formats, select audio and video codecs, adjust the bit rates, video frame rate, video frame size, and audio sample rate to get just the result you want. And once you’ve found the settings you like, you can save it as a custom preset to use again. I could just click and drag several of my various video files into Producer start encoding.
I used several DVD rips in DivX, and downloaded Star Wars Fan films in both WMV and MOV formats. Every file I encoded played nicely on my Zodiac using KinomaPplayer.
The encoding was quick, generally about 20-25 min per hour of video on a Pentium 4 2 GHz machine.
The file sizes were very manageable, also. You can see by the screenshots what the default profile was for my device. The only changes I made to the default was the screen layout, which defaulted to 320 by 320 pixel, and I changed the audio channels to stereo after experimenting to take advantage of the Zodiac’s Yamaha stereo chip.
|Audio and Video Settings
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Kinoma Player is not just for video, even though that is what it is most well known for. It also has an audio player, picture viewer,and plays streaming media. The player has many strengths, as well as a couple of weaknesses.
Video: Thanks to Kinoma Producer, playing videos with the player is easy. Converted videos can be simply dropped into the Kinoma folder on your SD card.
I never had a major problem playing back converted videos other than two annoying bugs.
One of these was that even low bitrate videos tended to get out of A/V sync. It wasn’t bad, and simply pausing and restarting the video straightened it out, but that should be something they can nail down. It seemed worse if I zoomed the video to full screen. A faster CPU like that on a Palm TX may solve this, but my Zodiac would struggle with high bitrate fullscreen video.
I can play videos encoded at a much higher bitrate using TCPMP with no audio sync problems. This is more likely the result of TCPMP using the Zodiac’s ATI chip to render the video taking the strain from the main CPU.
The second issue, and this may be nitpicky on my part, is that fullscreen mode is not actually fullscreen. There is always a thin white border around the screen, and the right side retains the menu icons on my Zodiac even in fullscreen mode.
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When in fullscreen, the title bar and icons below are not shown, but my screenshot app would always bring them up just before it took the screenshot. The only thing you would see is the vertical icon bar on the right. As you can see by the icons on the bottom left, there is a fullscreen feature, a Zoom, and a rotate option. Overall I found the player to be very good, and stable.
Audio: The audio player is a no frills one with basic playback, album art, and screen blanking to extend battery life. It plays MP3, WMA, and AAC files.
It does not have anywhere near the features of Pocket Tunes, for example, but this application is geared more toward doing everything adequately, as opposed to doing one or two things exceptionally well.
I was disappointed to learn that Kinoma does not let you create playlists, although it can open playlists created by other applications, including iTunes. The playlist showing in the screenshot was actually created in Pocket Tunes, and even though m3u files are supported they would not open.
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Picture Viewer: The picture viewer is a good basic JPEG viewer, with slideshow, rotate, and zoom. All of the JPEG picture files on my device were displayed, but at a slightly lower quality than the built in Tapwave picture viewer. It is surprising it would not display Bitmap files however.
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Streaming Media: Online content seemed hit or miss for me. Sometimes I could playback content, but more often, I would get “content not found errors” even though I had no problems connecting to the Internet to get my email or browse the Web.
When it did work, it was very nice. I was sitting in a Starbucks watching a YouTube video with no buffering problems. There is a great deal of content available such as Podcasts, Internet radio, video content from several sources, and RSS feeds, as well as some premium content.
Overall I liked Kinoma Player’s features, and other than some minor annoyances it is a good all around media player. If you want only one media application on your device, this is the one to get.
- Good all in one media player
- Easy file conversion
- Many supported formats
- Although Kinoma Player does many things, it does not excel at any of them
- Some basic features missing or difficult to work with
- Streaming content unreliable
Kinoma Player is $24.99 and Producer is $29.99. Kinoma Player is also available from the Brighthand Software Store.