Video Content on Your BlackBerry!
Convergence is all the rage today. We want one device that can do it all. Instead of lugging around our iPod, PMP, Cell Phone and pager – like in days of old – we want one device that does everything.
For BlackBerry users, the idea of using our beloved Berry for video and music is a new one for us. Thanks to the Pearl and the Curve, it is a real possibility.
The challenge is getting all our media onto our devices. This is where the Neuros MPEG4 Video Recorder (store link) comes in. This little device is really a mini DVR or VCR that can record DVD’s, TIVO programs and even live TV onto a portable media card. Once recorded, we transfer the media file to our BlackBerry and we have video content with us at all times.
It sounds great – but, how does it work? Pretty darn well. Read on for a full review or the Neruos MPEG4 Video Recorder 2.
Formed as the result of a spin-off from Digital Innovations, in December of 2003, Neuros was formed with the mission of building leading edge media devices around three pillars: Innovative features, openness, and community. (insert Neuroslogo)
Since spinning off from DI, the company released a second version of its Neuros Digital Audio Computer, as well as the MPEG-4 Recorder, 442 PMP, and the Neuros OSD.
The “Official Line” from Neuros, as found on their web site reads as follows:
A mini digital VCR for the Sony PSP™, iPod™ Video, Smartphones and other handhelds. With the Recorder 2 and almost any handheld, you can easily:
- Watch your favorite late-night talk show or the morning news on your commute or during your lunch break.
- Enjoy movies of your choice during a cross country flight.
- Keep your children entertained (and quiet) in the back seat or anywhere.
- Capture your video game highlights and e-mail them to your friends or opponents.
- Digitize your home movies.
- Play movies downloaded from the internet on your TV.
- Watch your kids' dance recitals and little league games from your hotel in Beijing.
- Show off photos from your latest party or roadtrip with a slide show on any TV.
Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 Series Technical Specifications
- ISO Standard MPEG4 SP encoding with AAC-LC audio.
- MPEG4+AMR Audio for 3GP settings.
see table below for recording resolutions:
- All modes=128kbps AAC except AMR for 3GP settings
- MPEG-4 SP with MPEG-1 Layer 3 (MP3) audio, 30fps up to D1 resolution
- DivX 3.11@ CIF Resolution; DivX 4.x,5.x,30fps up to D1 resolution
- Quicktime 6; MPEG-4 AAC-LC stereo, MP4 format at up to D1 resolution
- 3GP (MPEG4+AMR) 15fps at 320x240 or 176x144 resolution
- MP3(30-320kbps CBR/VBR)
- JPEG decoder(baseline), BMP, GIF (non animated)
- Resolution up to 16M pixels (4096x4096)
- Thumbnail view (when photo has the EXIF header)
- Zoom in/out (2x, 4x)
- 5 programmable recording schedules (once, daily, weekly or monthly)
- Transfer files between cards
- Background music for slideshow
- One-click record feature from remote
- Downloadable firmware upgrades here.
- 110-240V AC/DC Power supply
Dimensions and Weight
- 4.6 inches x 3.42 x .71 inches. 4.9 oz.
Complete System Includes
- Standard A/V RCA Interface Cables (European units may contain SCART adapters)
- 110-240V AC/DC Power Supply
- Remote Control
- User Manual Driver and Bundle Software Pack
Storage Card Slots
CF and MMC/SD/MS Duo All Accepted!
Storage Card Compatibility (High Speed cards may not be supported):
- Memory Sticks
- Sony MS Duo (tested up to 128MB)
- Sony MS Pro Duo (tested up to 2GB)
- SanDisk MS Pro Duo (tested up to 1GB)
- High Speed cards not supported
- Compact Flash
- Type I and Type II
- Hitachi Microdrives with CF type II interface (tested up to 6GB)
- IBM 1GB Microdrive
- SanDisk CF (tested up to 1GB)
- Protec CF 256MB
- Pretect CF 128MB
- Hagwara sys_com CF 512MB
- Kingston CF 512MB
- PQI CF 128MB
- SD (applies only to the Recorder 2 Plus)
- Mini SD*
- Micro SD*
- MMC Series (applies only to the Recorder 2 Plus)
- MMC Mobile*
*Proper adapter required. Also note storage cards are required but not included.
So now that you have all the details, let’s go on to the review:
What’s in the Box?
I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up the Neruos MPEG 4 Recorder. This is a very comprehensive package. Included are the Unit itself – which was very small and stylish, a Remote Control, a Power Adapter, 2 RCA Video Cables, a User Manual and a CD with the contents of the manual and links to an online Wiki and other sites.
The Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 is about 4 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches – small enough to hold in your hand, but big enough to seem substantial.
The front of the unit contains two LED’s on the left – a Green Power LED and a Red Record LED. The IR port is next to the LED’s. Front and center are the slots for the various cards for recording. A Compact Flash slot is at the top and under that is a slot for either an SD, Memory Stick Pro or MMC card.
On the back of the unit are jacks for DC Power, AV Out and AV In.
The unit is a shiny “Piano” black plastic design with grey plastic edging.
The Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 was fairly easy to set up. As we will see, set up and usage are two different things!
Initial setup involves attaching the RCA Video cables to the unit and to your TV. Plug in the cable to the AV Out jack on the back of the unit and attach the familiar Red, White and Yellow plugs to the component in jacks on your TV. On my HDTV, these jacks are right on the side – on other TV’s they are on the back or front.
The other RCA cable goes from the AV In jack on the back of the recorder to the “Out” jack of the Video source. For my testing, I just plugged the cable to the “Video Out” jacks on the back of my DVD player.
Next, I turned on the TV and cycled through the various inputs and found the “Component 1” screen which corresponded to the correct input for the Neruos. Once in the correct place, I powered on the Neruos with the included remote and the main screen was visible on the TV.
I was ready to go…..or so I thought.
Ease of Use:
This is an emerging technology – so I expected things to get a little complicated as I tried to actually use this device. My expectations were not disappointed.
The somewhat counter-intuitive remote control is required for accessing all commands on the screen. The biggest problem was the interface was reminiscent of an old Amiga computer. Grainy and blocky icons and cluttered menu screens were not intuitive to navigate.
I put in a blank SD card in the front slot and it was immediately recognized on the screen. The directory of the card was on the left hand side of the screen and I could navigate to a particular folder if I so chose.
The folder directory lets you see the contents of the card. So, for example, if your card was filled with pictures, you could view the pictures on your TV screen through the Neruos software.
My goal was to record a DVD – so that is what I set out to do. Before I could record, I needed to set the correct output for my intended device – in this case, a BlackBerry Pearl. You can record Video for playback on everything from a PSP to an iPod to a Smartphone to a regular cell phone. In order to do so, you need to know your maximum resolution and the frame rate capabilities of your device. This is where things got a little complicated.
You can select 320x240, 176x120 and 640x480 resolutions. The higher the resolution, the larger the file size. Most handhelds seem to support the 320x240 in a 30 fps (frames per second) format.
There is also the option to select a 368x208 resolution for capturing Video that is in Wide Screen (16:9 ) format. There is a 15 fps options as well which works well on most cell phones and smartphones.
Navigating the interface was a bit confusing to set the options – but eventually I set my options for 320x240 at 30fps.
I started the DVD I wanted to record and it showed up in the preview window of the Neuros software. I pushed “record” and the red light went on telling me that the DVD was being recorded onto the SD card.
The Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 records in real time – so you have to let your video play from start to finish. Patiently, I let the video run its course. When it stopped I pushed stop on the remote and removed the SD card.
Does it really work?
Now, for the moment of truth. I put the SD card in my computer and then found the video file and copied it to my BlackBerry. You can use the Roxio media manager to do this from your BlackBerry desktop software, but I like to simply enable disk use on my Pearl and just copy files right to the card.
Another option, and probably the best of all, is to record straight to your MicroSD or MicroSDHC card by using an SD card adapter. By sliding your MicroSD card into an SD card adapter and then into the Neuros Video Recorder, when finished recording you can simply pop your MicroSD card straight into your BlackBerry - no need to copy any files over!
I fired up the media player on the BlackBerry, navigated to “Videos” and low and behold I saw the video file. I clicked the trackball and my full length video began playing on my Pearl. This was very cool.
This is a “cutting edge” product. It is not perfect. The interface on the TV is clunky and difficult to navigate. Setup was straightforward and pretty easy – but setting the correct output settings was just not intuitive.
The bottom line is that once configured, this device does exactly what it says is will. Video from any source – a DVD, TIVO or even live TV can be recorded onto a memory care and transferred to your iPod, PSP, phone and your BlackBerry. You could have recorded the Red Sox game live and put it on your BlackBerry for posterity.
At $139.00 in the CrackBerry store, it is not cheap – but it is just like a mini DVR – capable of recording anything in a format that you can take with you.