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June 17, 11:01

Real MPEG-4 playback on Nokia 3650

3GPP is poor-man's MPEG-4. The specification mandates that movies run a maximum of 15 frames per second from a throughput of 64 kbit/sec, which leaves a paltry 4.3 kbit per frame. Of course, it sounds a lot worse than it is. 3GPP is certainly watchable and, especially with cartoons, even enjoyable. It pales in comparison, though, with the unrestricted variety of MPEG-4 that doesn't limit frame rates or throughput.

So why not do unrestricted MPEG-4 decoding right on the phone?

Apparently, PacketVideo asked themselves that very question, and since they couldn't come up with a reason not do, pvPlayer came into existing. And what an amazing piece of software! Of course, like most third-party applications, it has a horrible user interface that doesn't follow establish standards or provide any hotkeys. But it's real MPEG-4!

Real MPEG-4 to the tune of 30 frames per second and a 300 kbit/sec throughput, at least. The difference is startling. Where Simpsons is enjoyable in 3GPP, live-action shows, like Friends or Buffy, is less so. With 300 kbit/sec they come alive in a whole way.

Testing alternative compression rates
Just because 30 frames/300 kbit per second is possible, it doesn't mean it's always suitable. In that format, I encoded a 30-minute Friends episode, which resulted in a 66MB file. Great quality, but I like to have room for more than a single episode on the 128MB MMC card I have.

So after much testing, I came to the conclusion that 15 frames/160 kbit provided an excellent compromise between quality and size. It's much better than 3GPP and only slightly worse than full 300 kbit/sec. With that compromise, a 22-minute Simpsons episode is just shy of 26MB. Small enough that I can reasonably fit three episodes on the MMC card and still have space left over for games and whatnot.

The conversion process
I've been using QuickTime to do 3GPP conversions, so I thought I'd do that for the real MPEG-4 stuff as well. Unfortunately, QuickTime won't let you alter the frame size for MPEG-4 conversions, like it would for 3GPP. So an 320x240 movie becomes 160x120, which is an unsatisfying black-border experience compared to the native 176x144 resolution of the Nokia 3650.

Thankfully, there's a work-around. Convert the original to a QuickTime Movie first. That'll let you preserve full quality while adapting the frame size. Then convert the QuickTime Movie to MPEG-4 while specifying the frame size as "Current". It's somewhat cumbersome, but at least it doesn't take much longer (it just splits the process in separate frame resizing and MPEG-4 encoding phases).

Full-screen playback
On top of MPEG-4 playback, pvPlayer let's you use the entire screen in landscape mode. All 176x208 pixels of it (the stretching isn't even noticeable). That alone is well-worth the $17 registration fee, if you're serious about movies on the phone.

So what are you waiting for? T-Mobile offers the phone for free to Americans, if they sign up for a subscription. And here in Denmark, it's only around $300.

Spectacularly nice phone.

Challenge by spike on July 01, 13:46

have you checked out videoscript? its a cool little scripting language tool for video - i know its pretty powerful on the mac, and i know its got a windows version too...

spike's moboblog

Challenge by Dann Wilkens on July 10, 2:40

We're delighted that you like your pvPlayer. For encoding fun, there are two options available at
1. PacketVideo Recorder is a consumer-friendly encoder that makes .3gp files for your phone.
2. pvAuthor is a professional-grade encoder that enables the enthusiast (like you) to exert more control over encoding parameters. Both are available for 30 day free trial. Purchase prices are $29.99 and $59.99, respectively.
Let us know what you think.
If you like the 3650, you'll really like the SonyEricsson P800. It comes with a full multimedia suite from PacketVideo, including an MP3 player. It also plays back AAC audio files with excellent music quality.

Challenge by hamish on August 06, 1:12

What settings were used for the audio part of your mpeg-4 encoding when using quicktime? The video works fine for my converted film, but I don't get any sound when playing on the phone (although DOES get sound when playing the same file on the computer). Any ideas? Cheers,


Challenge by stefanos on August 13, 19:19

the 256mb mmc for the 3650 works?
i think is toshiba

Challenge by Mat on August 15, 1:06

Well what ive done with my nokia 7650 is ive encoded all my favorite movies with pvauthor into 3gp files at very high bit rates. 400k +. the using the aac codec at a nice bit rate in stereo. Top that of with a deacent frame rate. ?Im doing at least 25fps for smooth playback. Once there done i stor them on the pc. I then hook up my phone over a bluetooth connection and play the files of the pc! Ive watched entire films and music videos.

Challenge by saliman on August 25, 20:37


Challenge by hanes on September 01, 12:44

as someone else already asked u, how did u get sound to your mp4-files. quicktime only let you encode in aac format, which doesnt seem to play back on pvplayer! i encoded some movies with pvauthor (so that i could encode audio in amr format) with a file-size of ~40MB and pvplayer instandly runs out of memory. didnt that happen to you? thanks

@mat: so u use the 176x144 pixel screen of ur nokia to watch movies that u could watch on your notebook, pc or even television, sure u are one very smart guy!

Challenge by GhostDog on September 06, 21:19

@mat:How did you menage to stream a video to your 7650 over Bluetooth?We are talking about Bluetooth,right?No internet connection of any kind envolved?Do you have some streaming server running on your PC?Darwin maybe?Care to elaborate more?

Challenge by moji on September 09, 22:02

pleas help me
i want watching mpeg in my phone

Challenge by natraj on September 13, 7:36

i want mpg player

Challenge by charith on September 15, 19:12

Want that player pls help me

Challenge by GhostDog on September 19, 14:12

Did you read the article?Notice the words PacketVideo or PVplayer.

No news from mat on my Q?

Challenge by Bongkot on October 21, 23:18

I converted QT movie into MPEG-4, but unable to play it in Windows Media Player. I need to import the converted movie into Macromedia Director for the final delivery. Please help Bongkot

Challenge by mj on October 22, 10:29

i have nokia3650 then i want to have an mp4 or mtv videos of songs or some movie clips. i have infrared to tranfer d files why is that i cant play it or the phone didnt accept it n it said that the message is invalid format or unknown.wat will i do for me to play it in real one player in nokia 3650 pls help me step by step on how 2 tranfer it corectly n to receive it n save it...

Challenge by keeth on October 30, 18:34


Challenge by abady on October 31, 22:44

i am happy to join you

Challenge by alex on November 16, 2:04


Challenge by Laert rrapi on November 16, 4:29


Challenge by grace on December 01, 3:37

is there a pv player demo i could download? will it work on a nokia 6600?

Challenge by Tim chisholm on December 03, 21:47

is it possible for me to watch MPEG-4 Simpsons Episodes on my Sony Ericsson P900?

If so, how would i do this?

e-mail me @

It would be a great help if anyone could help me, thanks.

Challenge by Wayne on December 09, 16:43

Okay, questions...

1) Will the pvPlayer work on my Nokia 6600?

2) Can I play files on my phone that are physically stored on my PC?

3) What's the best software for authoring video...(I wanna put some of my DVD's on my phone if possible).

4) I've heard that 128mb+ MMC cards are not officially supported and that they can cause problems with 3650...anyone know what situation is for the 6600?



Challenge by Simon on December 12, 21:52

Do you get satisfactory results using Quicktime to do either 3GPP or MPEG-4 Conversion? I found that the video is more blocky, and the sound a lot less crisp and quieter than the free counterpart of the Nokia PC Suite for the 3650. Im tempted to get pvPlayer, but now I've bought Quicktime pro, I'd quick like to get that working. And I also want to ensure I get satisfactory results when encoding to MPEG-4 since getting pvPlayer might be a good idea...


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