A while back we bought a Palm TX for Jacquie to use. It didn’t quite meet her business trip needs, so it had been languishing in a drawer for a while.
Two things happened to make me dust it off:
- I read a book on time management whose system required I carry an organizer
- I washed my iPod
I was therefore short an electronic status symbol and and an organizer, and the Palm fit nicely. Once I was tracking my to-do lists and calendar, I set to getting some entertainment value out of it. Unfortunately, it is lousy for podcasts, because it for some reason takes forever to synchronize, even though it does so via the built-in WiFi. Second, the media player application is lousy. There is probably something better out there, but really, I expect better.
I soon discovered that it is supposed to be able to play video. There is a sample included on the Palm itself, but I couldn’t get anything else to play for love or money. Finally I turned to an application (TCPMP) I’d seen mentioned a number of times, but every indication was it had been abandoned. I installed that and suddenly I was able to play all kinds of MPEG-4 encoded AVIs I found lying around.
At first I was thrilled that anything played at all, but I soon tired of choppy video any time anything moved. I decided I needed to re-encode videos to the spec Palm says it will play, roughly MPEG-4 video and MP3 audio totalling less than 450 kb/s.
I installed the free ffmpeg command-line tool (there’s a GUI version for Mac called ffmpegX, but I think that really is abandonware and I could not get it to work) and after some experimentation, here’s how I transcode (re-code?) stuff to play on the Palm:
ffmpeg -i The.Daily.Show.04.15.2008.avi \ -r 29.97 -b 386000 -acodec libmp3lame -vcodec mpeg4 \ -s 426x320 dailyshow.2008.04.15.palm.avi
It works great! The quality is appropriate for the screen, audio and video stay in sync, and each episode takes only about 70 MB on my SD card, so I can pack a bunch of stuff on there to match whatever mood I might happen to be in. The only real drawback is the twenty minutes or so it takes to process each show.
That and I can tell everyone on the subway is jealous that I am watching Stewart/Colbert, and they are watching the walls.