The Center for Zodiac And General Palm OS Users, But mostly Zodiac. :)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Media players for the Palm OS, and especially the Zodiac!

Well, as most Zodiac owners know, the Zodiac is one of the only Palm handhelds with built in graphics hardware. It is the only PDA with open documentation for this hardware. Because of this, there are a good amount of Zodiac specific programs using the hardware. There are some Astraware titles such as Hellfire and GTS Racing, and many from other companies.

In the realm of media players on the Palm OS, there are not many titles. For audio, you may find PocketTunes, Busker Player, Aeroplayer, and many more. As for video players, you are limited to about 3 players. These are Kinoma, MMPlayer, and TCPMP.

The first two of these are commercial programs. Kinoma is a full media player, and can handle MPEG-4, AAC, JPEG, and 3GP. It generally requires conversion for playback except with low bitrate files. One notable aspect of this player is that it has the ability to stream files from sites that conform to the Kinoma standard. There are a few sites now that have compatable media, so it can be a useful feature.

MMPlayer is a different type of player. It is a product of one developer. He has either written his own codecs, or liscensed them for use. It has a larger number of codecs than Kinoma, including "MPEG-1,2,4, H263, DivX, XviD and MJPeg video". Its noticable feature is that it supports WMA and WMV codecs because the developer liscensed these.

The third player is dramatically different. TCPMP (The Core Pocket Media Player) is completely open sourced (that means its free too). It is available for both the Palm OS and PPC, and Picard (The Lead Developer, his real name is Gabor Kovacs) is planning on porting it to other mobile devices. It was originally developed for PPC, and though the Palm version is relatively new, the first release for Palm was exceptional since the engine was already developed. It supports Mpeg4 (DivX and Xvid), H.263, MS-MPEG4-v3, MP3, Matroska, OGG (OGM and OGG), Mpeg1, camera codecs (MJPEG, ADPCM, Alaw, and MuLaw), AAC, MPC, .3GP, AC3, and it also includes the ffmpeg library, which allows the additional codecs MPEG2, Sorenson3, and H.264. TCPMP by far handles more types of files than the other two players. Unfortunately, for the moment it lacks WMA capability because the only open source libraries which support it are not compatable with the mobile processors. I can however decode WMV video streams. On the PPC side Picard has added hardware support for many devices. On the Palm side there are two series of devices that have this. They are the Zodiac and Sony Clies with the HHE hardware set.

From what I understand, Picard uses the Zodiac's hardware for video scaling and acceleration, however it cannot yet be used for MPEG decoding, as the docs for this are not present.

If you have a Zodiac, this player is the most often updated, the fastest, and the only one with hardware acceleration. It does not yet have the feature set of MMPlayer, such as skinning or streaming, but these features are high on the priority list, and will be added soon. Remember, it is also the only free player among these.


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