Video on the N95

I keep trying out more things on the N95, as my schedule permits.

I can guarantee I at one time have said something like “who would want to watch TV on a two inch screen” when all the hype around video on mobile phones started up a few years ago.

I pretty much felt that way even as I ventured into a project to try loading my own home-brew videos on the N95 and see if I could get them to play. I should note that there is a “user friendly” way to put videos on the N95. Specifically, there is the Nokia Video Manager (I could only find a link on the European Nokia site). But I figure that has already been talked about elsewhere. I wanted to see if I could create my own files that played on the N95 from video content I have.

In short, to tip the ending, I have successfully taken videos from Tivo and played them on the N95. I did it on the Mac and on the PC, just to show that it’s possible (Nokia’s official Video Manager only works on the PC). I have to say, I was (a) amazed it worked the first time (figuring I’d surely get something wrong) and (b) shocked at the quality.

So assuming you already know how to get video off your Tivo (an exercise for the reader), that gives you a pretty high quality MPEG2 file at roughly 700 x 500. After reading around, I found that the format the N95 seems to like is MP4 at 320×240 encoded with the H.264 codec. I was able to successfully convert my MPEG2 video to mp4 and load them into the N95 using the following tools:

I believe both of these use the open-source ffmpeg tools underneath the covers (which explains why it worked on both the PC and the MAC), but it was nice to know it could be done on either platform.

I was surprised that the resulting 320×240 MP4 file was nearly the same size (in megabytes) as the original Tivo 700×500 MPEG2 file. A 30-minute video was about 320MB. The settings I used were:

file format: MP4
video encoding: H.264, 320×240, 30 fps
audio encoding: AAC, 44100 Hz, 96 kbps

I can tell no difference between the playback of the files made on the PC versus those made on the Mac. They both look and sound TERRIFIC on the N95 player (Realplayer).

When it comes to actually getting the large video files on the N95, I used both Bluetooth and a cardreader directly attached to the PC. The latter is much faster, but still slower than you might expect (about 10-20 minutes to load the MMC card with a 30-minute video). Bluetooth is much slower – I think it took almost an hour to transfer a 30-minute video.

With the 1Gig memory card I have, it looks like I could put about two hours of video at this quality on the N95, or certainly a 90-minute movie. I don’t know yet if the N95 battery would play a video for two hours straight.

Overall, it takes a rather painful couple of hours to perform all the video file conversions and write a 30-minute video to the phone. But I have to say, it is pretty cool to take a program off my TV and have it on the N95. Now that I have this capability, I’m torn regarding what shows or movies I want to load onto the phone.

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