Slow Flash video on G4 PowerBook

Though it is nice to have fast computers, sometimes now and again you need to use an older model.

However I am finding more and more that my old G4 PowerBook just can’t cope with the new modern internet.

I already know that it isn’ capable of playing HD video like the Apple trailers, but I am also having issues with Flash video as in the BBC iPlayer and video clips on Amazon.

Now I and you both know that video is not the only reason to use the web (though I guess there are a few YouTube addicts out there who may think differently) I do find it frustrating when I am browsing the web and there is a video clip and I can’t watch it as my computer is too old.

ITV chasing BBC on iTunes Store

Following the BBC, ITV are now putting TV shows on Apple’s iTunes Store.

Finally!

BBC reports

ITV is to make more than 260 hours of archive programmes available for sale on Apple’s iTunes store.

Brideshead Revisited, Cold Feet and puppet show Captain Scarlet are already available for download. Inspector Morse and The Saint are due later this year.

The Saint

I am pleased that both the BBC and ITV are finally selling TV shows in the iTunes Store.

Now all I need them to do, is sell HD versions.

Also would be nice if American shows were also made more widely available.

iPlayer on the Wii, is it now the WiiPlayer?

Though the BBC may be having (heated) discussions with certain ISPs over the BBC iPlayer and has had issues with the iPlayer on the iPhone; it now appears that you will be able to use BBC iPlayer on your Nintendo Wii.

The BBC’s iPlayer video service will soon be available via the Nintendo Wii.

The video download and streaming service that lets people catch up with BBC programmes will soon be a channel on the hugely popular game console.

Early versions of the service will be available from 9 April but more polished software will be released as the service is developed.

You can already use the Wii with an internet service to access the internet, but certain sites such as BBC’s iPlayer have been unavailable until now.

This now means that you can watch some of the last seven days of BBC TV through your console. Yes you will need an internet connection (and a wireless connection at that) but you can use it to watch old TV.

Thanks to Whatleydude for coming up with the term WiiPlayer or that’s where I noticed it first.

Ustream gets $11.1m

Mashable reports on how video streaming service Ustream has secured $11.1m in funding.

The live embedded video broadcasting company has secured $11.1 million in Series A funding from DCM as well as returning investors Labrador Ventures and Band of Angels.

BBC on iTunes

Eventually we can now get BBC shows on iTunes.

The BBC reports

BBC shows including Life on Mars and Little Britain have been made available to download from digital store iTunes.

Some see this as unfair as we have to pay for these programmes and we have already paid for them in one way via our licence fee.

I don’t agree with this, I see BBC shows on iTunes in the same way that you can purchase BBC shows on DVD from Amazon.

Those who complain or are unhappy about BBC shows on iTunes ought to also complain about BBC shows on DVD been sold by Amazon or WHSmith!

Personally I am pleased to see that if I want to I can purchase BBC shows for my iPod, particularly hoping that Hustle season one is available or will be available soon.

Big Screen with a PSP

One of the new features of the 2000 series of the PSP is that you can now purchase an AV cable which allows you to watch video or view photographs through your TV (or through a projector if it has composite video inputs).

I recently got hold of a cable, it is available through Amazon, but initially I tried at my local Sony centre (well the PSP is a Sony product and it’s an AV cable and the store has lots of big tellies) well no luck there. Nor at Dixons (well dot Curry Digital’ish aren’t they called) in the end I tried Game and found one on the bottom shelf nearly hidden away.

At £12.99 it’s not expensive, but it’s not cheap either, but it does work very well. You can get cheaper ones at Amazon.

Initially I tried the cable with one of those small portable Toshiba LED projectors and though I couldn’t get any audio it worked much better than I thought it was going to.

The I tried a normal projector and that worked fine.

I used it to view video and image as well as play audio.

One concern I did have was that there was a warning on the packaging that the PSP could only output in NTSC format only and of course here in the UK we use PAL, so when I got home I connected it to my TV, which is an older Sony CRT model and it worked really really well.

I couldn’t get it to display any games though.

PSP

Overall I was impressed with the cable and the quality of the output.

Full Resolution Video on your PSP

If you have a PSP with firmware 3.30 or later you can now (much more easily) play full screen h.264 video.

Prior to firmware 3.30 adding video to a PSP was a bit hit and miss.

When I first got a PSP I was very disappointed with the quality of the video I encoded for it using either EyeTV or Toast, more so when I compared it to the demo video I had on the demo UMD disk which came with it.

It wasn’t for some time that I didn’t realise that the PSP did not support full resolution video from a Memory Stick.

You also had to convert the video to a specific MP4 format and importantly change the name to something unfamiliar like M4V01011 and then find the obscure \MP_ROOT\100MNV01\ folder. You were restricted to a 368 x 208 resolution. If you wanted a thumbnail you had to create a jpg file and then rename it as .thm all quite complicated though there were quite a few tools that allowed you to do this quickly and easily (I used Toast quite a bit). One problem was working out what video files were what (easy on the PSP, more complex on a computer).

With the release of firmware 3.30 this changed.

Encoding full resolution h.264 video for the PSP is now possible, this means that you can use the full 480 x 272 resolution and the excellent quality and compression of h.264.

However when I started to encode video for a PSP with firmware 3.30 I did initially have a few problems.

I tried to encode some full resolution video using VisualHub and the in-built settings and then some settings from a forum. However in both instances the video would not play on the PSP.

I initially thought it was maybe because at the time I was using the trial version of VisualHub (which has a two minute limit). However using the default low res settings it encoded and played fine.

I even formatted the Memory Stick wondering if that would solve it, it didn’t.

So I encoded the video in the original pre 3.30 firmware specificiations. As I copied over the video to the \MP_ROOT\100MNV01\ folder when I noticed a Video folder in the root of the Memory Stick.

So I copied the full resolution video over to this video folder, and guess what, yes full resolution h.264 video on my PSP.

PSP

Really impressed with the quality.

Really impressed with VisualHub.

So if you have firmware 3.30 or later ensure that you use the PSP to format the memory stick and then you will have a video folder into which you can copy the video files without having to worry about any naming conventions and be able to have full resolution high quality video.

Slow, very slow

I have mentioned before the ability of the EyeTV application to export TV recordings in a format which then allows it to be viewed via an iPod touch or an iPhone. It exports in a Quicktime H.264 format, the quality is excellent, and file sizes small, so it is quick to stream/download over an 802.11g  wireless network.

One thing which does let the whole process down is the speed of conversion. On my Intel iMac it is slow, a one hour show takes under an hour. However  on my 1.5GHz G4 Mac mini, it takes  forever.

A two hour recording I made last night which finished at 10.30pm was still been exported this morning at 9.30am! Eleven hours into the conversion process and it was about half way done!

As you might expect I have now turned of the wifi access function of EyeTV on the Mac mini.

Elgato do make a device that in theory makes things faster, the elgato turbo.264, an external USB device which according to the blurb…

Turbo.264 rapidly converts and drops videos into iTunes, ready to synch with your iPod, iPhone, Apple TV or Sony PSP. And even better, Turbo.264 does all the heavy lifting. While the hard work of video encoding is in progress, you can continue to work or play on your Mac.

Turbo.264 also accelerates the H.264 (MPEG-4) export command of popular Macintosh video applications, including EyeTV’s Wi-Fi Access feature. 

I have read mixed reviews, but it certainly does look interesting.

Visually Appealing

I have mentioned VisualHub before, it is an excellent tool for converting video.

Now that I have an iPod touch, I want to put video onto it, so what do I use to convert my recordings, VisualHub of course.

Simply drag the files over, select iTunes, select iPod touch and that’s it.

VisualHub iTunes iPod

Note how the presets for all of Apple’s video devices are available from the iPod touch to the Apple TV.

Couldn’t be simpler, VisualHub is well worth the £12.32 it costs for a license.

EyeTV Wireless Access

One of the features of EyeTV during a recent update (version 2.5) was the ability to stream recordings wirelessly to an iPhone or an iPod touch.

As at the time I had neither I didn’t either turn it on or check it out.

Now having an iPod touch I gave it a go and was well impressed. It’s simple to turn on, just go to the relevant section in the EyeTV preferences.

EyeTV Wireless Access Preferences

Now what I didn’t realise was that basically what EyeTV does is convert the videos into a format which plays on the iPod touch, but hosts it on the Mac with the EyeTV with a webpage as a front end.

Now that webpage can be viewed on your iPod touch (or iPhone), but also can be viewed on a Mac which is using Safari 3 (the page does not work on Safari 2).

EyeTV Wireless Access on Safari 3

You can also use  Firefox (2.0.0.7) or Camino (1.5.1), clicking on the links plays (streams) the file in Quicktime.

The file plays fine over an 802.11g network.

However it also works on a Windows PC as well, it worked fine on my Windows XP Tablet using Firefox, however it didn’t work on Internet Explorer 6 or on a Vista PC with Internet Explorer 7. Obviously you also need to have Quicktime installed on the PC. Quite a useful way of streaming video across a home network.