Windows Phone Thoughts: Movies on the Run: Movie2MemCard Reviewed

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Monday, March 8, 2004

Movies on the Run: Movie2MemCard Reviewed

Posted by Anthony Caruana in "SOFTWARE" @ 10:00 AM


One of the fastest selling applications for Pocket PCs at the moment is DVD to Pocket PC. You can read our review here. Now, there's a new kid in town, trying to win the hearts of those of us who use our Pocket PCs for watching movies: Movie2MemCard. Movie2MemCard takes up the task of converting any video you can play on your PC into a format you can store on a memory card for viewing on a Pocket PC. Now, I know you can do this with some of the freeware tools out there but Movie2MemCard takes the guesswork out of things. All you have to do is choose the video file, tell the software what size card you want the movie to fit into and it does the conversion. Is it perfect? No, but it's pretty good.

What's it do?
Let's get it straight from the start. Movie2MemCard is not a DVD ripper. What it does is provide a simple, easy to follow front-end to Windows Media Encoder and DiVX encoder. As for what formats it supports, well, that's simple. If you can play it, Movie2MemCard can convert it. The output file generated by Movie2MemCard can be read by a variety of devices. All this choice means that you are not limited to using Windows Media Player for watching your movies and that you can watch your movies on just about any Pocket PC.

Follow the Bouncing Ball
The first thing you'll notice about Movie2MemCard is that the interface is laid out so that you just have to push each button in sequence.


Figure 1: The Movie2MemCard Application Interface. Notice how everything is lined up, making it easy to press the buttons in the right order to get the desired result.

The first thing you'll need to do is decide your output file format using a simple combo box with the three options
  • Windows Media 9 Series (for Windows Mobile 2003);
  • Windows Media Version 8 (for Pocket PC 2002);
  • DiVX Video with MP3 Audio.
Then just choose which file you wish to convert.


Figure 2: Movie2MemCard uses a standard Windows dialog for choosing the file you wish to convert.

Once you've selected your file, you'll need to decide what size memory card you want your movie fitted to. You can choose most card sizes from 32 MB through to 1 GB. Now, the thing to remember here is that the file size you decide on will determine the quality of the output. Squeezing a two hour movie onto a 32 MB card will deliver a pretty poor result. Also, taking a small video file and encoding it to a larger size won't improve its quality. In fact, if you do this, Movie2MemCard will pop up a warning telling you that the bitrates that your selection is configured for are too high for the file.


Figure 3: Movie2MemCard makes sure that you don't get the bitrates for encoding wrong.

There's a calculate button on the left that configures the encoder. It looks at the size of the file you've chosen, the bitrate it's encoded at and then it sets the parameters for the encoding process. Once that's done (it only takes a second or two) you need to Save the settings you've selected. This creates a DOS batch file that is used to execute and run the Windows Media Encoder.

For my project, here's the code in the batch file that was created.

Quote: "C:\Program Files\Movie2MemCard\cscript.exe" "C:\Program Files\Movie2MemCard\wmcmd.vbs" -input "C:\Documents and Settings\Anthony\My Documents\My Shared Folder\Original.avi" -a_setting 20_22_1 -output "C:\Documents and Settings\Anthony\My Documents\My Shared Folder\Original.avi_ppc.wmv" -v_bitrate 163000 -v_framerate 15 -v_width 320 -v_height 176 -v_mode 0
del -y "C:\Documents and Settings\Anthony\My Documents\My Shared Folder\Original.avi2003.bat


Now all that's left to do is Encode.

The Encoding Process
The sample file I worked with (an episode of Angel) was about 87 MB in size and has a run time of about 43 minutes. As the encoding process executes a DOS batch file, you see a DOS box while the encoding process is running.


Figure 4: The encoding process in action.

The conversion process for my file took about an hour. The resultant file was just under 59 MB in size.

DiVX Encoding
Encoding a file with DiVX follows exactly the same process as encoding for Windows Media Player, with a couple of small differences.

Firstly, the DiVX encoding process employed in Movie2MemCard only supports mono audio. Also, you'll need to run one extra step, Fix, before playing the file on your Pocket PC. The DiVX file was about 10% smaller than the WMV encoded file and the encoding process took about twice as long.

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