Several months ago, I purchased the Digital Decor TV Picture Viewer from Target. The device accepts a number of memory cards, including CF and SD cards. It will play MP3 files as well as JPEG and Motion JPEG files. It does an OK job with photos and is a reasonably capable MP3 player. The device features component out for video and allows for video output of up to 1080i. It was this and the video playback capability as well as the very low price. Target was clearancing them for ten bucks.
After purchasing the device, I quickly realized that encoding video for the device was not going to be easy. For one, the MPJEG codec is difficult to find and when you do, you have to pay for it. Worse, Digital Decor does not appear to have a web presence, so I could not find any information about how to encode video for the device. I’ve spent the last few months, on and off, trying to do this. Well, finally, I think I have had a breakthrough.
While on vacation recently, I took lots of video with my Kodak digicam. The camera takes videos that are supposed to be 720p, and I have no reason to think otherwise. It does a pretty decent job as long as lighting is decent. The problem is that it records the video in the QuickTime format. I wanted to edit the clips together, but I did not have anything that would work with these videos. So, I set out looking for something and found an application called Prism Video Converter. This dandy little application comes in two flavors: a free version and a ‘Plus’ version for $39.95 (during April, is half price.) I downloaded the free version.
So far, I’ve not found a video that it could not convert. It handles those MOV files from my camera, Flash video, AVI, WMV and more. It will use whatever codecs you already have and will download those that you do not have. It also uses FFMPEG for playback. It is nifty little application.
Unfortunately, when I tried to convert to MotionJPEG and play back the file on the TV Picture Viewer, I just got the ‘format not supported’ message. I downloaded trial versions of MJPEG codecs and none of them seemed to work. I was about to just give up on the thing when I remembered that it did playback some files I had converted for my Palm Zire 31 PDA. So, I dug up one of those files and analyzed it. It had been several years since I used the Zire for video playback, I could not remember what I did. I opened the video in Media Player and viewed its properties. I found that I had used DivX to encode the file. Aha!
I updated my installation of DivX, started Prism, selected a small file and then set the file type to .avi, set the encoder to DivX and then clicked the Video Compression settings. I chose the HOME THEATER profile in the DIVX setup. I then let Prism encode the file. After a few minutes, the file was ready. I copied it over to an SD card and put it in the TV Picture Viewer. After selecting the video to playback, I waited for it to error out. Surprisingly, it played. My first few attempts resulted in stuttering video, but it play all the way. I went back to the DivX settings and played around. I got it play back fairly smoothly.
One thing I found, though, is that the source video more or less dictates the profiles you can use in DivX. For example, those camera movies restricted me to the 720p profile while some flash videos I downloaded (Rocky Jones, Space Ranger-black and white, mono sound) could use the mobile profile.
I think I will purchase both the Plus version of Prism and the Pro version of DivX to give me more flexibility. Both will be useful in the video work I am doing, so it is a win win.
I am hoping to get consistently good results. The little device will allow me to watch video podcasts on the larger screen in my bedroom where I have no computer(!) or downstairs on the big screen there. Plus, I also have a Digital Decor digital frame at work, so I could take those videos I shot at the beach and have them play on the frame.
If you have one these TV Picture Viewers and have gotten video to play, please let us know what you did.