Why MJPEG? Digital photo frames and the TV Picture Viewer use this, but why?

I have a digital photo frame and the TV Picture Viewer, both from Digital Decor and both purchased from Target.  Both products will play video, but only video using MJPEG-a more obscure codec that used quite a bit in the late nineties and early double-oh’s.  It is light on requirements, which is why, I suppose, it was popular.  Indeed, it was the codec of choice for a couple of dvr like software packages for PC’s.  I used one called Showshifter that utilitzed MJPEG and allowed weakling capture cards like ATI’s entire line of ‘TV Wonder’ and ‘All in Wonder’ tuner cards to be able to do things like pause live video and go back and forth in the live buffer.  That’s all and fine, but this is 2008, folks, and almost no one uses this.  No, most devices use mpeg, wmv or quicktime.  One would think that Digital Decor would use something that most people still use instead of some obscure codec like MJPEG.  I don’t care much about playing video on the photo frame, but I would like to do so on the TV Picture Viewer.  So, I go online and look for some kind of transcoding application that would handle this oddball format.  Well, sadly, I have had little luck.  Divx comes close, but it seems to cause the viewer to freeze…not ideal.  MJPEG does not appear to be a freely available codec either.  It costs thirty or more dollars (US) to purchase and then there’s additional cost for something to actually encode your video. I’d be willing to pay for the codec if I could find software that will handle it.  Maybe I”m looking in the wrong places, but I”ve not found any.

Given the inexpensive nature (read CHEAP) of the Digital Decor product line, I am kind of surprised that they went with a codec that was half the cost of the product.  Unless they got it dirt cheap.  I suspect that this is the case.  At any rate, it’s like trying to make a Betamax tape work in a VHS machine.  (Those are antiquated means of video recording and playback for those of you who do not remember the great format war of the 1980’s.)

I will post a how to on converting video to this format, if I figure it out and if I can find a cheap or free solution.  And if the moon is full, on a Wednesday, before dawn.

EDIT:  Go here to read more on encoding video for this device.


3 thoughts on “Why MJPEG? Digital photo frames and the TV Picture Viewer use this, but why?

  1. Willypat…
    I tried to reply to your message, but your preference blocks it.  I had been converting short videos (video podcasts, etc) for playback on my Palm Zire or Nintendo DS Lite and used MediaCoder, I believe, to do so. I had it used Divx, but, as I said, the results on the picture viewer were not good.  It frequently freezes.  So far, I’ve not come up with a good solution.

  2. I suspect it supports MJPEG because that is the video format that many digicams use for movies. It’s a much less efficient codec as far as space goes, but doesn’t need much horsepower for encoding.

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