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TUTORIAL: Playing Flash Video (FLV) files on the Pocket PC - is it possible?

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By Menneisyys, Retired Moderator on 24th October 2006, 08:13 AM
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I always receive questions regarding whether it’s possible to play Adobe/Macromedia Flash Video (FLV) files on the Pocket PC. Therefore, I’ve investigated the question of playing these files.

What are Flash videos?

To put it simply, there are two kinds of Flash-based videos: traditional Flash videos (also having the .swf extension) and enhanced videos having the .flv extension. The former isn’t really suited for Web-based distribution (it, for example, doesn’t support server-supported location change without fetching the entire clip first). The latter is almost exclusively used by large media distribution sites like Google Video or YouTube because of its technical superiority.

The Pocket PC and Flash videos

While .swf video files are played by almost all Pocket PC-based SWF players as can also be see for example in the article Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC, playing the latter files on the Pocket PC is a lot more problematic.

Much as some people say the latest (version 7) Macromedia Player for Pocket PC, this will not help with the majority of the “production” Flash videos out there. Most of the videos (for example, the Google Video ones; the YouTube videos are said to be Flash 8+-only) are playable neither from remote locations nor from the local file system.

Note that NetFront 3.2/3.3 isn’t able to play these videos either as can be seen in this screenshot. Renaming them to SWF doesn’t help either – as is the case with the Adobe plug-in and PIE/IEM.

(For testing purposes, I’ve visited the Google Video archives (for example, this Shakira - Hips Don't Lie spoof video).)

Convert to be able to play!



You can, however, convert these files to a format digestible by , say, TCPMP, the best Pocket PC-based multimedia player. To do this, download for example Total Video Converter. Download, install and start it; drop the input FLV file in the “Task list” list (it’s in the upper left region), choose MPEG4 Video in the Mobile group and click the Convert Now button; the conversion will start. The output file will be created in the C:\Program Files\Total Video Converter\Converted directory. Note that you’ll also need the AAC codec for the sound of these files to be played; please read this thread on getting and installing it. If you don't want to install it, go for another output format.

Alternatively, you may want to use the free (!) Mencoder as is described here.

Note that some people also recommend the free Super by eRightSoft. Some other people, however, say it's causing synchronization problems.

Finally, you may also want to give a try to the commercial Replay Converter by applian technologies. The homepage of the developer is also worth checking out because they are also offering Replay A/V, which can also help in downloading FLV files (in addition to, say, YouTube, Google Video etc. videos) directly off the Web, in case you don't want to manually look for videos in the browser cache.

Also note that you’ll want to read Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC on the secrets of acquiring FLV files if they are residing on a Web server like Google Video (if you don't want to go for the above-linked Replay A/V).

Also note that the quality of the resulting video file will be really inferior to that of the source.

Other discussions of this question

AximSite

FlashForum.de

Recommended generic article on Flash & PPC

Playing Flash Content on the Pocket PC

UPDATE (10/24/2006): there is a brand new, free service here allowing for online FLI -> MP4 / 3GP conversions, which, then, can be played with both TCPMP and CorePlayer. Please also see the comments section in here for more info.

I also recommend the following discussions of this article: AximSite; PPCT. I've also elaborated on whether alternate Pocket PC browsers are able to play YouTube videos here. A worthy PPCT discussion of the latter article can be found here.
16th December 2006, 10:49 AM |#2  
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UPDATE (12/16/2006): if you want to save / convert YouTube / Google Video videos on the PC as easily as possible, make sure you give the free (!) vDownloader a try (current version: 0.3 alpha). Also make sure you read the comments under my blog post here. There is an interesting article here on the manual conversion; you may also want to check it out for a tutorial. Finally, I also recommend this PPCT news item for an Orb-based solution.
17th December 2006, 12:23 AM |#3  
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you can play flv also with ppc version of vlc without conversion.

But it is a very buggy application and there is no developer at the moment for the pocket pc port. It even has problems with the flv container. if you copy the flv video stream (again without any conversion) in an avi container, the latest nigthly build (from february 2006) of vlc for pocket pc plays it flawlessly.


Maybe someone here gets attracted to compile the latest build of vlc for ppc and work on it a little.
29th March 2007, 02:13 AM |#4  
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How exactly do you stream a video file into another container.

I really hope someone would pick up the thread on the developement of VLC for PocketPC. It's a great player. And now TCPMP is no longer under development, VLC would make a nice alternative. (not that TCPMP doesn't get me by).
29th March 2007, 10:11 AM |#5  
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You can download Adobe Flash 7 for PPC which has worked with the latest youtube videos here. A bit jerky, but not bad.

Device: HTC TyTN
1st April 2007, 06:25 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keethar

How exactly do you stream a video file into another container.

I really hope someone would pick up the thread on the developement of VLC for PocketPC. It's a great player. And now TCPMP is no longer under development, VLC would make a nice alternative. (not that TCPMP doesn't get me by).

Now a more than a year has passed since the last nightly build...

Hope some developper picks it up...
2nd April 2007, 04:48 PM |#7  
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UPDATE (04/02/2007):
  1. the brand new, 8.65 version of the great Windows Mobile Web browser Opera Mobile is able to directly play back YouTube videos (if you do install the standard, free (!) Macromedia (Adobe) Flash 7 plug-in in addition to Opera Mobile). See "YouTube support?" row in the comparison chart of my forthcoming Windows Mobile Web Browsing Bible for some real screenshots. Also note that I've posted screenshots of the latest alternative Web browsers (including, unfortunately, even PIE in WM6) NOT being compatible with YouTube. Do check the screenshots out - and remember: I'll publish the Windows Mobile Web Browsing Bible really soon!
  2. Another great piece of news: YouTube Mobile is slated to launch in May / June as is stated at engadget. Also see this PPCT thread.
  3. There is another online converter service to convert videos online without having to have access to a desktop computer (which is a very bad problem with the ORB-based approach), making watching YouTube videos comparatively easy (albeit not as good as with Opera Mobile 8.65 or the forthcoming, above-mentioned YouTube Mobile). Also see this thread for a complete explanation of the process.
3rd April 2007, 04:29 AM |#8  
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I had a really good read on this, very detail, and very useful information.
Thanks.
3rd April 2007, 05:55 PM |#9  
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You're welcome

BTW, here are the YouTube tests: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=301009
10th April 2007, 04:30 PM |#10  
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Thumbs up
thanks for info, great article and updates.
Young
6th June 2007, 02:56 PM |#11  
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A new article on playing back YouTube:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?p=1298093

A new article on the latest Opera Mobile / NetFront versions:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=310637

Do check them out. They also contain extensive MS Smartphone-related info; something I’ll even more generally address in a later Smartphone Web Browsing Bible.
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