Bacon on BlackBerry: Multimedia

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Still carrying an MP3 player alongside your BlackBerry? That’s sooooo 2007. BlackBerrys have come a long way in the last couple of years. I used to carry around a cell phone, my BlackBerry and my MP3 player. Yes, my pockets were very full. The 7100v changed that as I dropped down to one communications device, but I still had my MP3 player.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to use the BlackBerry 8120 for a few weeks now and I’m impressed. I threw a 2GB microSD card in the side (finally), loaded up some MP3s (Foo Fighters, Billy Talent, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, etc.), threw another 1GB microSD card in my wallet (Solitudes, Blue Man Group, POD casts… I never know what I’ll feel like) and headed out. I haven’t looked back.

I decided this weekend to see what the BlackBerry could do for video. Who wants the watch The View, a Fishing Show or TechTV while at the gym? I somehow legally obtained a Seinfeld episode and loaded it on my BB. That made the elliptical machine much more amusing and got me thinking about other media-related improvements I’d like to see on the BlackBerry…

FM Radio: No-brainer right? Doesn’t pretty much every significant MP3 player on the market have an FM Player on it? Don’t a ton of cell phones? In know, in reality, how much do you use the FM radio? Does it matter? I’m not always an advocate of follow-the-leader (I’m still not sold on touch screens), but there must be a business case for FM radio for all those manufacturers to include it.

Streaming Internet Radio: WiFi + mobile device + Shoutcast. Need I say more? Screw XM.

Emailing Pictures: Once nice feature of Windows is when you right-click a picture and SendTo -> Email Recipient, Windows prompts you to see if you want to send the full size picture or resize/compress it and send. I never use this because generally, both I and the recipient have super-fast broadband and oodles of storage space. Often I’m sending pictures from my BlackBerry to other mobile users just for them to view on their device and then delete (apparently my photography skills are not well thought of) – why do they need the full 1600×1200 picture? The BlackBerry is perfectly capable of resizing pictures which would reduce bandwidth, transmission and reception times as well as simply just make sense.

Rotate Video: The 8100 screen is 240×260, which is a portrait layout screen, as opposed to landscape or widescreen like the 8300. TV shows and lots of other video are in a 4:3 ratio, which is slightly wider than taller; movies are usually in 16:9 format. A rotation option on the video would be great as it would fill more of the screen.

More Video CODECs:

  • MPEG-4 Part 2 - Simple Profile + bvops (including DivX files in this format);
  • H.263 Profile 0 and Profile 3; and
  • WMV 9 Simple Profile Video Decoder.

This list needs a drastic expansion. Most video is not formatted for small screens and video conversion between formats is time consuming and loses quality. My laptop is not exactly fast, clocking in at 1.8GHz, and Roxio (from the most recent Desktop Manager) was unusably slow; so I used iPod formatted videos (mp4) to avoid the conversion.

Those are just some of the multimedia features that BlackBerry could use some work on. What other media-related improvements would you like to see on the BlackBerry?

  • Bacon on BlackBerry
    BlackBerries with WiFi are capable of streaming high-bitrate streams. The Shoutcast streams I listen to are 96-160kbps (which is higher quality than FM radio) and would be great to be able to listen to those while mobile. The CDMA BlackBerries should be able to handle good quality MP3 streams as well.

    There's no performance hit (or battery life hit) for adding more software CODECs -- all-caps just for spite =) -- on the device. They're not active unless actually used in decoding a video/audio stream so there's no more impact on battery life than the existing codecs (depending on the technical characteristics of the codec as some are more processor intensive than others).

    It's much more user-friendly to support a video/audio format natively rather than having to go through the video/audio conversion process every time you load video/audio on the device (which also looses quality).
  • Tommy M
    well if those other 2 dont want to use their BB for anything other than business, then both of you need to #%%$$$%^$ up.. Bacon, I applaud you for providing the info.. This is why we live in America!!! We can make those choices without SF's like these making ridiculous comments about things that dont concern them!!!

    I want to know where you got the Seinfeld episode(s) as I want to download them on my Curve.
  • Chris L.
    Amen brother phlo, preach on!
  • phlo
    Excuse me but what the fuck? FM radio? We're talking about business devices here. If you want to listen to radio, get a Zune, be happy. Streaming music is a stupid idea too; the vast majority of streams is available as mp3 whose quality sucks male genitalia with bitrates lower than 96 kbps (which I wouldn't expect 2G devices to constantly be able to receive).
    Resizing Pics and rotating videos are nice ideas. Adding more codecs ("codec"'s no acronym, caps not appropriate) would probably be a royal pain in the ass as most decoders only support one particular family and the main cpu probably won't have the performance to decode yet. Adding other hardware decoders would screw with battery runtime, make the devices larger and heavier -- not something most users would want.
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