Happy Tuesday Class! Thanks to the Smartphone Round Robin I'm into my third week of No BlackBerry Use, which also means our third week of Guest Professors in the CrackBerry.com BlackBerry 101 Lecture Series.
This week's topic? Getting Started With Videos On Your BlackBerry. It's a fitting topic since one of the rules of the Round Robin is that we must view videos on the smartphone we are given. Dieter of WMExperts.com has the BlackBerry Curve this week and since this is his first time using a BlackBerry (he's a total newbie to them) we figured he'd need all the help he can get! :-) Dieter actually just posted his initial "I'm a BlackBerry Newbie and Needs Lots of Help" questions in the CrackBerry forums, so head on over there after you read this lecture and help him out! Don't forget, just by helping you'll have the chance to win a new smartphone of choice!
Our BlackBerry 101 guest lecturer this week is no stranger to the topic of videos for your BlackBerry, considering he is the owner/operator of Videos4BlackBerry.info. Our guest lecturer is also a loyal CB member who you can always be found in the CrackBerry.com forums.
Welcome to BlackBerry 101 Bla1ze, Let's Get Crack'n!
Getting Started With Videos On Your BlackBerry
by Bla1ze of Videos4BlackBerry.info
As new BlackBerry devices are being released it's becoming more and more apparent that RIM has intentions for their devices to be pushed out of the corporate world and into the hands of consumers who are looking for more than just an email and web enabled gadget. These consumers are looking for all-in-one devices to feed their digital needs. BlackBerry devices now include digital audio players as well as the ability to be able to play videos encoded to specific formats. But as of late alot of questions have arisen in the forums as to how to take advantage of all these capabilities. Hopefully this article will help clear some of the air and answer some of those important questions.
Let's start with having a look at the video capabilities of the latest generation of BlackBerry devices. While there is plenty of room for improvement in this area... BlackBerry is off to a flying start considering it was not that long ago that it was not even an imaginable item on a BlackBerry.
MPEG-4 Part 2 (Simple Profile and bvop, including DivX 4)
- File formats - .avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov
- Video - Up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 30 frames per second
H.263 (Profile 0 & Profile 3)
- File formats - .avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov
- Video - up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 30 frames per second
Windows Media Video (Simple Profile)
- File formats - .wmv
- Video - Up to 320 x 240, up to 800 kbps, up to 24 frames per second
Now that's all fine, But what does it all really mean? Lets break it down even more...
.avi, .3gp, .mp4, .mov, .wmv are all supported video formats for BlackBerry devices but there are limitations imposed on these types of files. Extracting the information from above, all of the files are limited to 320 x 240 resolution (aspect ratio). This is basically the size of the video as it will appear on your BlackBerry screen, similar to WideScreen and FullScreen aspect ratios that are so relevant in the DVD world.
The next item to address is the limitation of 800Kbps you see above. This is relevant to the quality of the encoded file, and by quality I mean clarity of the file itself. If a video file is encoded in a lower kbps it will look grainy and pixelated.
As you can see from the examples above the higher the kbps, the higher video quality. Keep in mind this is also relative to the size of the video - the higher the kbps, the larger the end result will be in file size.
The next item to address is the frames per second (FPS). Now while this is a highly technical aspect of filming in television and video, I'll try to explain it as easily as possible, or better yet, the problems that can arise from not assigning the right FPS to a video that you are trying to convert for your BlackBerry device. Every video that is filmed or captured has to have an appropriate FPS to it otherwise things filmed will look like they are either moving too fast on the video or possibly even too slow, as well, this may cause problems with audio when converting for BlackBerry devices, or any other devices for that matter such as PSP, Home DVD's etc. If the right FPS is not used you may find that audio will be out of sync on your videos. I realize that the specifications call for a range of 24 to 30 FPS for all videos to fall under the compatible category, but honestly this will be based more on the programs used to encode the video files than anything. It really is trial and error when selecting a the right FPS, and we'll dive into that further next.
Applications Available For Encoding Files For BlackBerry
When it comes to encoding files to be compatible with BlackBerry devices their really are many choices out there, both free and paid applications, depending on your personal preferences of course.
We'll start with the more commonly known application - BlackBerry Desktop Manager's Media Manager of course!
Now while the Media Manager in the BlackBerry desktop program does do a great job of converting files for optimal playback , some people also find it cumbersome and NOT really user friendly when converting files, often times creating incompatible files. This is from my personal experience as well as comments from others that have come to the CrackBerry Forums. The drag and drop interface seems nice, but is confusing to some.
Next we'll have a look at SeaByrd Technologies BlackBerry Video Converter v1.1. This program boasts a lot of power in a small package and allows for you to make personal backups of pretty much any file you may have on your computer. A note to mention here is that this program will NOT work for Verizon 8830 devices as Verizon changed the type of video they use. They reccomend using the supplied Desktop Manager available on the Verizon site (I'm unaware of what file changes they have actually made). This encoder is based on the mencoder encoding engine, thus allowing many file types to be encoded.
Boy look at all those options, Too much maybe?
This is a FREE application that works amazingly well - it even allows you too transfer files right from the encoding process direct to your BlackBerry device.
But just look at all those options and tabs up there, the application it's self is quite good at guessing what would be the best option, but once again from my personal experience, it often times selects options that may not be optimal. But don't let that sway you from it's use, it really is an excellent application that with use you will grow fond of and will have you enjoying videos on your BlackBerry in no time.
Next up I have to introduce my personal favorite and the only application that I use for my site Videos4BlackBerry. Now while this application is NOT a free application it is well worth the purchase cost of $29.00 from AOne Soft. Ultra Mobile 3gp Converter is tops in my book supporting just about any format you can throw at it and having a nice clean and simple user interface. It allows any user to quickly convert files for their BlackBerry. AOneSoft offers a limited free trial of UltraMobile 3gp Converter, which of course I'd recommend taking a look at before committing to the purchase price.
Using the 3gp profile under the mpeg4 codec creates optimal files for BlackBerry devices with little to no fuss. One thing you will notice here is that the application supports the 14.95FPS option - this is personally the option I choose all the time and have never had any problems with it. Out of the 3 mentioned so far, I'd have to lay my support here. Another option for getting movies onto your BlackBerry that I haven't tried yet but appears to work great is the Neuros MPEG-4 Recorder. It was recently reviewed on CrackBerry.com.
Now remember with any of these applications time will be a factor, depending on the filesize you are trying to convert and the quality you are wishing to achieve here, times may go up. Rule of thumb is always the higher quality video, the longer it will take to encode.
Now I need to return back to the supported files mentioned just for a moment, so that there is no confusion. All of the listed programs will support output files compatible for BlackBerry devices, but a few things to take under consideration in the listing of files is that you will see some items have "profiles" listed next to them. There are a few things to consider:
H.263 (Profile 0 & Profile 3) - You will be hard pressed to find any encoding programs that specifically state they use these types of profiles, thus making it harder to determine wether or not the file will be compatible.
Windows Media Video (Simple Profile) - This is a codec based on Windows Media Player 9 (remember we are now into Windows Media Player 11) and while it was widely used in the past, applications have long since moved onto more advanced codecs like the H.263 and it may be hard to find applications that state specifically that they use it.
In the end the most compatible and reliable codec to use would be based on .3gp. This codec is pretty much standard for all phones and mobile devices developed in the last 10 years.
How To Get Videos Onto Your BlackBerry Device
This will be the final item we cover in this BlackBerry 101, so now that we looked into some of the applications to"convert" or "encode" the videos to a BlackBerry compatible format we need to cover the methods on how to get it transferred to your BlackBerry device. the first and most common method would be to use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, utilizing the "move up" and "move down" feature as pictured below.
Select the Folders tab, then navigate to the desired location (folder or file) on the computer for media to be transferred.
Navigate to the desired location (Media Card or Device Memory) on the BlackBerry for media to be transferred.
IMPORTANT: Files larger than 2.86MB cannot be transferred to the BlackBerry device when using the device memory.
Once the desired locations have been selected, click on the media file to be transferred and select the appropriate action.
NOTE: If transferring a media file to a Media Card, mass storage must be enabled on the BlackBerry.
- Copy Down: Transfers a copy of the media file from the computer to the BlackBerry.
- Copy Up: Transfers a copy of the media file from the BlackBerry to the computer.
- Move Down: Moves the media file from the computer to the BlackBerry.
- Move Up: Moves the media file from the BlackBerry to the computer.
The second option of course would be to have your media card act as a extra hard drive on your computer in which case you may just be able to drag and drop the files right into the video folder of your BlackBerry device. Again, Mass Media Mode must be enabled for this to work and you can achieve this by going to to Settings > Options > Media Card > Auto Enable Mass Storage When Connected (see below):
Now that those settings have been configured, anytime you connect your BlackBerry to your computer you will see the following screen.
In which case you will want to "Open folder to view files". Inside you will see a folder called "videos" you may then drag and drop your videos into that folder. Once transferred, disconnect your BlackBerry from your computer then browse to your Media and look under your videos, if encoded correctly you will see your files listed and it will be viewable on your BlackBerry!! Enjoy Folks, I hope this guide was in some way helpful to you.
Thanks for the Lecture Bla1ze, that was clear and concise and HELPFUL! And I now can be confident that Dieter will have no issues viewing videos on his BlackBerry this week. And remember, if you want Videos for your BlackBerry, you can always make a visit to Videos4BlackBerry.info.