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Zaurus Software Reviews: tkcVideo 1.5.0-19
09/15/02
By Steve Emms


tkcVideo is an ambitious project developed by theKompany.com, one of a growing number of developers for the popular Zaurus SL-5500 PDA. This PDA ships with a Media Player that can play mp3s and also MPEG1 files. Unfortunately, MPEG1 files take up lots of hard disk space, something that the Zaurus, even with a 1GB Microdrive, just doesn't have.

Unlike the Media Player, tkcVideo supports a wide variety of video formats including MPEG1, MPEG2, AVI, MJPEG, MSMPEG4, and MPEG 4. The last one is the most important for the Zaurus, as it lets you watch video that has been encoded with the DivX codec. This is a video codec that features an awesome compression technology, allowing you to watch movies on the Zaurus!

As anyone who's used the DivX codec will know, this technology requires significant processor power to playback the movies. Even for videos with screen of 720x576, a PIII 500 will have problems with playback. Fortunately, the Zaurus only has a 240x320 screen, so there's no point in encoding your movies, for the PDA, at a higher resolution.

TheKompany.com recommend pocketmovies.net as a good starting for material to watch with their player. I downloaded a few of them at the smallest resolution -- an example is in the first screenshot taken from 2001 A Space Oddity encoded at a low 240x152 resolution. This MPEG 1 file takes about 6MB of space, and played back perfectly on the Zaurus.

My ambitions were a bit greater than just MPEG1 files. I wanted to see how it would cope with DivX material encoded at 320x240 resolution. The documentation, included with the software, unfortunately recommends using Windows (urgh) software for encoding. For simplicity I followed their advice although no doubt the job could have done with the equivalent Linux software.

Screenshots 2 and 3 are taken from the hit 70s BBC comedy program, Yes Minister. They were encoded at 317 kbps, using DivX 5.0.2 at a resolution of 320x240. Although playback was a little jerky (a few frames were being skipped by ffmpeg), it was still very watchable. Reducing the frame rate, and resolution improved matters.

TkcVideo's interface is a little basic, but then again, I'd only want to watch the movies at full screen anyway, so it's largely irrelevant. Because DivX has such good compression, you'll be able to watch full length films on the Zaurus, although maybe watching Lord of the Rings would be pushing it a bit too far :)

Following on from the excellent tkcPlayer, this is another quality product. The biggest limitations are the obvious; the small screen, and the processor of the Zaurus.

Product Details:

Name: tkcVideo 1.5.0-19
Price: $19.95
Pros: High quality DivX player for the Zaurus
Cons: Hardware limitations, opie player 2 free
Rating: 8/10

Back to Zaurus Software Reviews


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