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07-11-2006, 10:46 AM
TUTORIAL: Playing Flash Video (FLV) files on the Pocket PC - is it possible

I always receive questions regarding whether itís possible to play Adobe/Macromedia Flash Video (FLV) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLV) files on the Pocket PC. Therefore, Iíve investigated the question of playing these files.

What are Flash videos?

To put it simply, there are two kinds of Flash-based videos: traditional Flash videos (also having the .swf extension) and enhanced videos having the .flv extension. The former isnít really suited for Web-based distribution (it, for example, doesnít support server-supported location change without fetching the entire clip first). The latter is almost exclusively used by large media distribution sites like Google Video (http://video.google.com) or YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) because of its technical superiority.

The Pocket PC and Flash videos

While .swf video files are played by almost all Pocket PC-based SWF players as can also be see for example in the article Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/menneisyys/052006FlashPlayers.asp), playing the latter files on the Pocket PC is a lot more problematic.

Much as some people say (http://www.flashdevices.net/2006/04/flash-player-7-for-pocket-pc-now.html) the latest (version 7) Macromedia Player for Pocket PC (http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer_pocketpc/downloads/player.html), this will not help with the majority of the ďproductionĒ Flash videos out there. Most of the videos (for example, the Google Video ones; the YouTube videos are said to be Flash 8+-only) are playable neither from remote locations (http://www.winmobiletech.com/kuvat/WM5Adobe7IsntAbletoPlayFLVVideos.bmp.png) nor from the local file system.

Note that NetFront 3.2/3.3 isnít able to play these videos either as can be seen in this screenshot (http://www.winmobiletech.com/kuvat/NF32IsntAbletoPlayFLVVideos.bmp.png). Renaming them to SWF doesnít help either Ė as is the case with the Adobe plug-in and PIE/IEM.

(For testing purposes, Iíve visited the Google Video (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Video) archives (for example, this Shakira - Hips Don't Lie spoof video (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8718728501056290731)).)

Convert to be able to play!

You can, however, convert these files to a format digestible by , say, TCPMP, the best Pocket PC-based multimedia player (http://tcpmp.corecodec.org/download). To do this, download for example Total Video Converter (http://www.effectmatrix.com/total-video-converter/index.htm). Download, install and start it; drop the input FLV file in the ďTask listĒ list (itís in the upper left region) (http://www.winmobiletech.com/kuvat/TotalVideoConverterFLVConversinion-1.png), choose MPEG4 Video in the Mobile group (http://www.winmobiletech.com/kuvat/TotalVideoConverterFLVConversinion-2.png) and click the Convert Now button; the conversion will start (http://www.winmobiletech.com/kuvat/TotalVideoConverterFLVConversinion-3.png). The output file will be created in the C:\Program Files\Total Video Converter\Converted directory. Note that youíll also need the AAC codec for the sound of these files to be played; please read this thread (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=19618) on getting and installing it. If you don't want to install it, go for another output format.

Alternatively, you may want to use the free (!) Mencoder as is described here (http://www.aximsite.com/boards/showpost.php?p=1159947&postcount=7).

Note that some people also recommend (http://www.aximsite.com/boards/showthread.php?p=1145454) the free Super by eRightSoft (http://www.erightsoft.net/Superdc.html). Some other people, however, say it's causing synchronization problems (http://www.mobilitysite.com/forums/utilities-applications/31374-free-flv-converter.html).

Finally, you may also want to give a try to the commercial Replay Converter (http://www.applian.com/replay-converter/index_keepvid.php?src=KeepvidConvert) by applian technologies (http://applian.com/index.php). The homepage of the developer is also worth checking out because they are also offering Replay A/V (http://applian.com/replay-av/index_youtube.php), which can also help in downloading FLV files (in addition to, say, YouTube, Google Video etc. videos) directly off the Web, in case you don't want to manually look for videos in the browser cache.

Also note that youíll want to read Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/menneisyys/052006FlashPlayers.asp) on the secrets of acquiring FLV files if they are residing on a Web server like Google Video (if you don't want to go for the above-linked Replay A/V).

Also note that the quality of the resulting video file will be really inferior to that of the source.

Other discussions of this question

AximSite (http://www.aximsite.com/boards/archive/index.php/t-116514.html)

FlashForum.de (http://www.flashforum.de/forum/archive/index.php/t-185510.html)

Recommended generic article on Flash & PPC

Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/menneisyys/052006FlashPlayers.asp)

07-12-2006, 08:43 PM
The screenshots have been uploaded in the meantime.

I'd also add that eRightSoft SUPER (http://www.erightsoft.net/S5E01.html) also allows for converting from FLV to any other format and is free. I haven't tested it though.

07-24-2006, 03:58 AM
The screenshots have been uploaded in the meantime.

I'd also add that eRightSoft SUPER (http://www.erightsoft.net/S5E01.html) also allows for converting from FLV to any other format and is free. I haven't tested it though.

I tested SUPER and found that most of files I fed it were translated.

I just had a problem with 2 which bomb the ffmpeg codec.

I tried different codecs and different settings, but the problem persists on the same 2 files.

10-03-2006, 11:25 AM
Article greatly updated with a lot of additional, third-party utility links.

10-03-2006, 07:27 PM
Sticky worthy -- great job.

10-06-2006, 07:55 AM
For my fellow Mac users, I'd like to recommend a video converter called iSquint (http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/19769). It can convert numerous files (including all the FLV files I've tried) to "iPod style" format (an MP4 with AAC audio, which can also be used with TCPMP if you can get the codec).

If you search for iPod video converters, you will get a qui-jillion* results, most of which cost too much and do too little. But iSquint is free. Its results seem to be of much higher quality than files made with ffMpegX (although ffMpegX does a lot of other things that iSquint can't), but it is still really fast. It is a Universal Binary too.

I'm totally unaffiliated with this product - I just sincerely like it in my personal opinion.

*Qui-jillion is a word! It is equal to 1,000 qui-zillions.

10-24-2006, 08:12 AM
UPDATE (10/24/2006): there is a brand new, free service here (http://www.mymobileclips.com) allowing for online FLI -> MP4 / 3GP conversions, which, then, can be played with both TCPMP and CorePlayer. Please also see the comments section in here (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=969&c=1&page=1&more=1&tb=1&pb=1) for more info.

I also recommend the following discussions of this article: AximSite (http://www.aximsite.com/boards/showthread.php?p=1159947); PPCT (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=49885). I've also elaborated on whether alternate Pocket PC browsers are able to play YouTube videos here (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=1202&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1). A worthy PPCT discussion of the latter article can be found here (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=51019).

12-16-2006, 11:48 AM
UPDATE (12/16/2006): if you want to save / convert YouTube / Google Video videos on the PC as easily as possible, make sure you give the free (!) vDownloader (http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/Download-Managers/VDownloader.shtml) a try (current version: 0.3 alpha). Also make sure you read the comments under my blog post here (http://www.pocketpcmag.com/blogs/index.php?blog=3&p=969&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1). There is an interesting article here (http://www.pocketpcaddict.com/forums/front-page-content/16665-watch-youtube-videos-your-pocket-pc-part-ii.html) on the manual conversion; you may also want to check it out for a tutorial. Finally, I also recommend this PPCT news item (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=52496) for an Orb-based solution.

04-02-2007, 04:54 PM
UPDATE (04/02/2007):

the brand new, 8.65 version of the great Windows Mobile Web browser Opera Mobile is able to directly play back YouTube videos (if you do install the standard, free (!) Macromedia (Adobe) Flash 7 plug-in in addition to Opera Mobile). See "YouTube support?" row in the comparison chart (http://www.winmobiletech.com/032007WebBrowsers/chart.html) of my forthcoming Windows Mobile Web Browsing Bible for some real screenshots. Also note that I've posted screenshots of the latest alternative Web browsers (including, unfortunately, even PIE in WM6) NOT being compatible with YouTube. Do check the screenshots out - and remember: I'll publish the Windows Mobile Web Browsing Bible really soon!
Another great piece of news: YouTube Mobile is slated to launch in May / June as is stated at engadget (http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2007/03/28/youtube-mobile-to-launch-in-may-june/). Also see this (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=54587) PPCT thread.
There is another online converter service (http://www.bleb.org/services/vidconvert/) to convert videos online without having to have access to a desktop computer (which is a very bad problem with the ORB-based approach (http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=52496)), making watching YouTube videos comparatively easy (albeit not as good as with Opera Mobile 8.65 or the forthcoming, above-mentioned YouTube Mobile). Also see this thread (http://www.pocketpcaddict.com/forums/front-page-content/16665-watch-youtube-videos-your-pocket-pc-part-ii.html) for a complete explanation of the process.

06-06-2007, 02:55 PM
A new article on playing back YouTube: http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=437340

A new article on the latest Opera Mobile / NetFront versions:

Do check them out. They also contain extensive MS Smartphone-related info; something Iíll even more generally address in a later Smartphone Web Browsing Bible.