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Multimedia News: Kinoma Player 2, Pocket Player 4.1, CorePlayer 1.3.2

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[teaser]There has been quite a flow of new multimedia player versions in the last two months. Let's take a look at them.

(A quick note: in order to understand what I'm talking about, you will want to make sure you've read the following articles, which clean up what I mean for example by "podcatching", "CPU usage" or "HE-AACv2": The Definitive Multiplatform Multimedia Metatag & Library Tutorial & Bible; The Multiplatform Podcasting / Podcatching Bible; Audio player CPU (and, therefore, power) usage benchmark update!; The Multiplatform YouTube Bible; Sneak peek: the Main Chart of my forthcoming Multimedia Audio Streaming Bible!; REVIEW & COMPARISON: Spb Online)

CorePlayer 1.3.2

You can check out what has been added / changed HERE. There have been no major changes (for example, there still isn't WMA / WMV streaming support for Symbian S60 or HE-AACv2 support for any platform). Apart from providing a way to access more than 13 search hits (the biggest problem with initial, YouTube-capable versions), there are no real YouTube goodies either. Nevertheless, it's still the number 1 multimedia player if you want to have the most effective and most battery-friendly for example MP3, H.264 or ASP (a.k.a. DivX / XviD) video player. Again, as is also explained in my past, dedicated articles, you won't want to use it for HE-AACv2 playback.

Pocket Player 4.1

There is a lot more to report on Pocket Player, which had a major version bump in the last months (from 3 to 4). This also means a lot of goodies have been introduced, for example:

- podcatching support, which can be pretty well fine-tuned (see Page 14 in the official documentation)

- AAC LC support on platforms (Windows Mobile Classic) not having a built-in AAC LC decoder. (Note that there is (still?) no native, real HE-AACv2 support!)

and some other niceties.

As usual, there's a 30-day trial version on the homepage of the developer - just give it a try if interested,

Kinoma Player 2

Last but definitely not least, Kinoma Player, a well-known Palm OS media player recently (in Aug 2008) ported to Windows Mobile.

A new version of this player, 2.0, has just been released. I've given it a pretty thorough ride and was pretty much happy with it. The developers have fixed almost all the problems I complained about in my previous, version 1.0-specific articles. [/teaser]

For example,

- it no longer forces the user to wait for the automatic library scan to finish

- now, it's much easier to step to the main menu (by long-pressing the Action button - that is, the button in the center of the D-pad)

- at last, you can fine-tune file associations (without having to use a third-party program to do so). This was too missing from the previous versions. (Note that you must separately install the Advanced Setting application from inside Kinoma Play to do so)

- now, you can set the folders to scan (see the article on multimedia tags)

This was, of course, just a few of the weaknesses of the previous, 1.0 version. 2.0 has a LOT more goodies and improvements. Let's start with, for example, YouTube (Flash / H.264) support for VGA devices.

While it can't quite match the main YouTube player alternative, CorePlayer, in playback efficiency (it achieves the same playing speed at considerably higher CPU usage and doesn't allow for playing back high(erO-quality contents), the video playback performance has substantially been improved on VGA devices. Unfortunately, it still doesn't support high-resolution (HVGA, 480*320) either (unlike CorePlayer or, for that matter, the iPhone). Nevertheless, it's far more usable than in the first version.

For example, playing

clip taxed the CPU of the HP iPAQ 210 at 45% under Kinoma 2.0, while, under CorePlayer 1.3.2, in medium FLV mode (the same as the playback mode of Kinoma) it only taxed the CPU for 32%. (It was only in H.264 normal mode that the CPU usage was at 95%. But, again, it's H.264 and not Flash.) That is, for casual YouTube playback, you probably won't want to switch back to CorePlayer - unless you need the slightly higher-resolution HVGA playback, as opposed to Kinoma's QVGA only.

I've also benchmarked the CPU usage of HE-AACv2 playback. At 624 MHz (the iPAQ running on external DC), it amounted to 26%. Not particularly low (there are better players in this regard; namely, Pocket Tunes) - that is, if battery life (which is proportional to the CPU usage) is of extreme importance, you still want to prefer Pocket Tunes. Nevertheless, if battery life isn't a concern and you do want to play back HE-AACv2, stick with Kinoma, as it's a great all-in-one multimedia player.

Scanning of about 3000 files took about six minutes; in this regard, it turned out to be better than CorePlayer (the latter running scanning in the background). And, don't forget that library scanning can be, at last, cancelled - unlike with version 1.0. (Where the lack of this feature was one of my biggest grieves.)

Still, I haven't talked about the community features that make this player REALLY great.

First, YouTube. Simply no other Windows Mobile YouTube clients are capable of what Kinoma 2 is. Just some examples:

- you can comment videos:


- you can read video comments (the lack of this is one of my biggest grieves with for example the iPhone)


(This screenshot also shows the comment I've just added to one of my YouTube videos.)

- you can even full edit the flags / title etc. of any of your videos:


Again: not even the YouTube client of iPhone OS 2.2.1 supports this - and, of course, neither do other YouTube clients (incl. CorePlayer) on Windows Mobile.

In addition, there are a lot of other community features. You will most probably want to check out THIS for more info on all these.

All in all, if you want a great (albeit, again, not the fastest - if you want pure speed, [also] go the CorePlayer route) YouTube client, go for it. Also, this app should be the one you choose if you want for example Twitter access or a really extensive online streaming radio dictionary - with even HE-AACv2 support.

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Sorry to be a moaner - but, whilst I really appreciate the information, does the WHOLE of this article have to appear on the news page?

Edited by mwright

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Thanks for the info on the windows mobile media players. It is easy to forget about all the options we have at times because we get busy and also become creatures of habit. So thanks for pulling all of this together.

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