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Encode, play and compress video movies for playback on handheld Pocket PC and Palm devices

January 1, 2005

in All Articles,Photo and Video

You’ve spent buckets of money on your jazzy cellphone. With email, calendar, digital camera, e-book reader and web browsing, who needs more? Rarely getting out of bed, you work so well with your handheld device, it’s a productivity Swiss Army Knife.

But you’ve been working too hard. Relax the right way. Not with fads like tea infused with the latest smelly herbal remedy. Relax the old-fashioned way: Watch movies.

No need to change your gadget habits. Use cellphones or handheld PCs to watch movies.

You can do this with most computer video files (like MPG or AVI videos), homemade DVDs and CD-ROMs. However, you won’t be watching the Star Wars series. Most commercial DVDs (excepting some with low production values) have copy protection preventing us from watching anything but the original DVD. It’s illegal to circumvent this copy protection. But for legal video conversion, you’ll need the following equipment:

Windows PC (with a DVD reader if converting DVDs).
handheld device running Palm OS, Windows CE or Windows Mobile, capable of displaying video.
Enough memory on your device to store the video. A 120-minute movie uses roughly 100 MB of storage, so a memory card is recommended.

Download the free PocketDivXEncoder from and save it on your computer. This tool prepares, compresses and creates an AVI video for use on handheld devices.

Download the free TCPMP video player, available at Install to your handheld. TCPMP plays movies created by PocketDivXEncoder.

Optionally, you can download DivX Play from, a free movie player for your Windows PC. Use this to test and watch the videos created with PocketDivXEncoder.

1) To convert videos, run PocketDivXEncoder. Select your handheld type. Check “Output dimensions” in the next screen. This size should match your handheld resolution. For example, my Audiovox 6700 has a screen size of 320 by 240, so when I create videos I make sure they have the same size.

2) Click “File to encode“, browse to a video file and click “Open“. (If browsing a DVD, video files are the “VOB” files you’ll usually find in the “VIDEO_TS” folder.)

3) Change the “Output file” to be on your PC hard drive.

4) Examine “Output options“. You’ll see the estimated size of the final video file. Make sure it’ll fit on your handheld (use the “Video Quality” buttons to increase and decrease file size and video quality).

5) Click “Encode Now“. And wait. My test file, a video almost two hours long, took thirty minutes to convert. (The PC used to do the conversion was a 2 GHz Pentium M with 2 GB of memory). If your computer finishes this within seconds, or gives you an error, then the video you’re trying to compress may be copy-protected. Try another one.

6) Move the resulting AVI file from your PC to your handheld. Open TCPMP on your handheld, and watch the video.

Don’t worry, the near future has plenty of laptops and desktops. Their capabilities won’t be replaced any time soon. But it’s so nice to watch movies on a plane, a bus, outside or, well, anywhere.

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