Thursday, August 17, 2006
Thursday, August 10, 2006
HOT PSP Accessories
In a nutshell, the biggest problem you face copying your DVDs onto the PSP device is the same problem you have copying a commercial DVD for any other purpose: commercial DVDs have a variety of different protection mechanisms to prevent you from migrating the data from one device to another, making backup copies, or otherwise consuming it as your lifestyle requires.
There are a variety of different programs you can download for your Windows XP computer that will help circumvent these protection mechanisms, but generally they're all illegal to sell in the United States, so you'll find that their authors are all based overseas to avoid any problems. Is it ethical or legit to wantonly copy DVDs that you get from Blockbuster, Netflix or your pals? Of course not. That's a problem and I don't endorse that behavior for a second.
On the other hand, I have at least four different devices that can play movies, including my Sony PSP, an Apple iPod Video, an Archos AV-700 and a Wolverine MVP-100 multimedia device. If I want to take a movie that I already own and push it out to these devices, are organizations like the MPAA really expecting me to dutifully buy five copies of the movie, one for each platform? That's incredibly anti-consumer in my opinion. And so, I am offering up this tutorial on how to copy your movies (read that again: your movies) onto the Sony PSP.
The first, and perhaps most crucial step is to get a software program that removes the encryption and other protections from your DVD player on your PC, and after having tried out a bunch of free and pay solutions, I haven't found anything better than the $24 AnyDVD1 application from Antigua-based SlySoft. What's particularly nice about their solution is that it's invisible: once you install it, programs that access the data on your DVD drive go through the AnyDVD app and never see any encoding, encryption, CSS, Macrovision, or regional encoding limitations. It's like waving a magic wand over the commercial DVD movies you put in your computer. You can get a sense of how it lets you interface with your DVDs by looking at its settings:
Once you have that set up and running (it requires a reboot and injects itself into the DVD driver, so it looks kinda like spyware, but it's benign and only accomplishes the one task of helping you access your DVD disks), you'll need a program that can read the data on the disk and convert it, compress it, and repackage it for the desired output device, in this case the Sony PSP.
There are lots of solutions in this space, including many commercial applications you can find from mainstream publishers like Roxio, but Slysoft's the winner here again, with its terrific and super easy-to-use CloneDVD Mobile1 program. Combined, AnyDVD and CloneDVD Mobile will set you back about $50, about the same price as two UMD movies, and it can produce output for just about any modern portable media device.
Let me step you through how I copied a recent movie, The Island from DVD disk to the Sony PSP itself. First step was to get AnyDVD running, then I launched CloneDVD Mobile and selected the output media format:
Notice that it supports producing video for Apple iPod Video devices, Windows smartphones, Creative Labs Zen Vision devices, the Archos AV 700 device and, most importantly, the Sony PSP. In fact, it offers two different PSP video formats: AVC/H264 and MP4. The former takes longer on conversion but should generate smaller movie files, so that's what I choose, and clicked Next. Then I needed to select the DVD disk itself (obviously, you need a DVD reader in your computer for this process to work, by the way!):
Once I'd done that and cilcked on "OK" the CloneDVD Mobile program instantly figured out the disk layout and showed me all the track details and even a tiny preview:
To make a nice icon for the movie, I stepped the preview forward until it was a mnemonic frame, as you can see, rather than just a generic black screen which is how just about every movie starts. Again, I clicked Next to proceed, and:
Most DVDs have more than one audio track: make sure you select the one you want at this point (and some movies, like Hero have a default track that's not English. In the case of Hero the default language is Chinese, in fact) and again click Next:
Just about ready to start up the program. The only step left is to specify the output device, which I've already done here.
A note of warning: you can specify that CloneDVD Mobile should save the output file onto your PC so you can copy it onto the PSP later, but I couldn't get that to work properly. Instead, I recommend that you hook your PSP up to your computer before you start this process, also plug it into the wall, and just let the program write directly to the Sony PSP as it goes along.
The filenames are weird and un-mnemonic (I'm producing MAQ10001.mp4, for example) but they fit the Sony PSP's expectations of video file names, so I would discourage you from changing them. And if I haven't said so before, the PSP is very cranky about video files...
At this point I also recommend you change the label to something friendly and mnemonic too. I changed mine to "THE_ISLAND" as you can see in the screen shot.
You might also move the video quality slider to determine where you want to balance quality against file size. Needless to say, the higher the quality, the bigger the output file: at the very best possible quality level (25) this movie would be 683MB in size, while the worst quality (5) shrinks it down to an unviewable but impressively small 193MB. I always go for the middle value of 15, which in this case is estimated to produce a 438MB output movie file.
And yes, this means that you need that much space on your PSP Memory Stick for this process to work. I highly recommend that you buy at least a 1GB Memory Stick if you're playing with video. I have a 2GB stick, personally, and love having three movies neatly stored on the device for viewing anytime.
Everything looks good, so let's Go!
This is the screen you'll now see while the CloneDVD Mobile program is running. This is not a blindingly fast process: The Island took over two hours on my Pentium WinXP box to convert. That might be dramatically faster or slower than your own computer depending on DVD disk speed, RAM, CPU speed, and various other factors.
After some time passes (I went out for a walk, personally) you'll eventually see this cheery message:
Done! Hurray, finally a very painless way to push your favorite DVD movies onto the Sony PSP and just about any other portable video device.
Even better, it looks great:
It's not much work, but there's a lot of time involved. If you have a big disk, you can certainly create a nice archive of your favorite films in PSP format, then once someone comes out with a decent PSP hard disk (which I can't believe isn't already on the market) you could easily travel with 10, 20, even 100 of your favorites.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Before you begin, you're going to need a beefier Memory Stick Duo card than the 32MB stick that Sony supplies with the PSP. If you're serious about watching video, you're probably going to want a 1GB stick, which can be difficult to find inexpensively these days. You'll also likely need a Memory Stick Duo Adapter, which lets you use a Memory Stick Duo card in more common standard Memory Stick readers. I use such an adapter to interface the PSP's Memory Stick Duo cards with the 9-in-1 media reader on the front of my PC (which natively accepts standard Memory Stick cards).
Memory Stick cards must be specially set up to work properly with the PSP. For example, you must create folders named MUSIC and PHOTO under the root-level folder PSP to store music and picture files, respectively. You might think, then, that you'd store video files in a folder called VIDEO or MOVIES. However, that's not the case. Inexplicably, Sony makes you jump through hoops before you can watch Memory Stick-based movies on your PSP.
First, you must create a folder called MP_ROOT in the root of the Memory Stick (next to PSP). Inside that folder, you must create a folder called 100MNV01. Then, inside that folder, you can store only a very specific kind of video file (768Kbps or lower MPEG-4 with a resolution of 480 x 720 or lower). And those video files must be specially named. The first video file should be named M4V00001.mp4, followed by other video files with sequential names (M4V00002.mp4, M4V00003.mp4and so on). But wait, there's more: If you want the PSP to display a thumbnail of the videos in its menu system, you must also supply thumbnail files. These files will follow the same naming conventions of the actual video files. So the first one will be named M4V00001.thm. Good PSP tools create these files for you.
Make It Happen on the PC
Confused? Let's see how it works. On the PC, I've tried a few tools to convert movies into the MPEG-4 format that the PSP requires. My favorite is PSP Video 9. This handy free tool converts various video formats to MPEG-4, then copies them to the PSP.
You must manually create the proper directory structure on the PSP first, however, and then configure PSP Video. I used 512Kbps 320 x 240 movies with 96Kbps sound, which takes up about 4MB of space per minute. And I tested MPEG-2, Windows Media Video (WMV), and QuickTime MOV files. The process seems to work just fine, and the content I've converted runs the gamut from home movies to movie previews to recorded TV shows.
Mac Works, Too
On the Macintosh, I've been using a fantastic tool called PSPWare, which will also soon be ported to Windows. PSPWare lets you synchronize music, photos, videos, and other information (including saved game backups) between your OS X-based Mac and the PSP. The video feature is particularly well done: You simply configure PSPWare to convert videos to the desired format (typically 320 x 240, but it supports a widescreen mode too) and quality level, and PSPWare does all the work behind the scenes—including the video conversion.
PSPWare is particularly nice because of the wide range of functionality it provides, but it also handles the messy job of creating and maintaining the properly formatted folder and file structures that the PSP requires. I can't wait to see the PC version. PSPWare costs $15 and is well worth the money.
One concern I have about both these tools is their audio/video synchronization. I haven't quite figured out the exact problem, but higher-quality, non-MPEG video files that need to be transcoded down quite a bit to match the PSP's capabilities seem to be the worst culprits. I'll keep testing these and newer tools, and see how this market progresses.
Sony PSP Survival Guide (The Facts, Links, How-TOs... What you need to know.)
HOW-TO: Get videos and DVDs onto your Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) for free
This week's How-To is only going to apply to the lucky six or seven of you who've managed to already get your hands on a PlayStation Portable, the rest of you will just have keep this one in mind and come back to it when the PSP comes out here in the States in March. We're going to show you step-by-step how to get video clips on to your PSP without having to spring for any additional software.
When you format a Memory Stick Duo or Pro Duo stick in your Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), you will get a new PSP folder, with sub-folders for ?game?, ?music?, ?photos?, and ?savedata?. But nothing for videos? What?s up with that? Well, it turns out that you need to put MPEG-4 video files in their own special folder, one that?s not in the PSP directory, but in the main root directory of the Memory Stick.
Just create a new folder in the root directory named MP_ROOT, and then make a folder called 100MNV01 in there. So your .MP4 files should go into E:\MP_ROOT\100MNV01, where E:\ is the drive letter of your Memory Stick. You also need a PC, as the converter software does not work with Macs. This MP_ROOT directory structure is directly cribbed from Sony?s UX/VZ Clie PDA series, which also plays MPEG-4 videos. Sony does offer up Image Converter 2.1, but they charge 1000 yen (around $10) for it. We?re going to show you how to do it for free.
First, we need to download 3GP Converter, currently in version 0.22 (2.7MB).
Unzip the 3GPC .ZIP file into a directory of your choice, and run setup.exe. You may see a bunch of weird characters, but don?t worry, it?s set to Japanese by default. Scroll down to the bottom of the 3GP Converter Setup window and select the English radio button, select Customized: MP4, for PSP (Direct, renamed) the then press Apply. This is the setting for conversion of video files to MPEG-4 format that can be played by the PSP, and renamed so your PSP recognizes it (such as M4V31337.MP4). Unfortunately, the PSP currently won?t recognize file names such as TheUsualSuspects.MP4 or TheOCSeason2Episode4.MP4.
Now, the 3GP Converter program window is open (if not, you can double-click the 3GP_Converter.exe program to run it). Click the Select button to choose where you want your converted PSP MP4 video files to reside. We just chose C:\3GP_Converter.
The program may ask you to install QuickTime Authoring before being able to convert your video files. A simple click of the Do It Now button will suffice.
The drop down box is what level quality setting you want your MP4 video to have. All outputted videos will have QVGA (320x240) resolution. You can choose from 15 or 29.97 frames per second, with 29.97 fps being a lot smoother. The third item listed in the quality settings is the video bitrate, the higher the bitrate, the better quality your video will turn out, with the highest quality being 1500kbps. The QB# settings appear to be variable bit rate (VBR) settings, where the converter will use a higher bitrate when necessary. The QB4 setting is the lowest quality VBR option, and QB10 the highest quality VBR. Next is the options for audio, choose between Mono or Stereo. The last bitrate is for your audio quality, you can choose from 32kbps (lower quality) to 128kbps (highest quality). The higher quality setting you choose, the slower it will be to convert.
Now drag whatever file you want to convert into MPEG-4 format into the blank area of the program window. Here we chose a Shark Tale trailer, originally in DivX Pro HD format, to convert with the ?QVGA/29.97fps/1500kbps Stereo/128kbps? setting, the highest quality setting that 3GP supports. When the program is finished converting the video into MP4 format, the program will rename the file to something like M4V04895.MP4.
Now setup the USB connection (or take out your Memory Stick Pro Duo and stick in a
reader) on your PSP to copy the video files over. The correct folder name for videos is E:\MP_ROOT\100MNV01 (where E: is the drive letter of your PSP). Copy your .
MP4 video(s) over (the .THM files that 3GP Converter creates are not necessary for
playback), and then disconnect the PSP USB connection by pressing the X button.
Scroll over to Video in your PSP menu and select it by pressing the O button. It should list
your converted MP4, with title, date, and length of video. Press O again and it will start
There are four screen display modes, which you can choose from by pressing the triangle
button. Scroll up to Screen Mode (2nd from left on the top row) and use the O button to
scroll between Normal, Zoom, Full Screen, and Original modes. Normal is fin
New Sony Locationfree LF-PK1 TV Place Shift Device
do not know what the PSP Media Manager 1.0 is, it's a software from Sony that allows you to manage your PSP
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Question Answers about PSP
Question Answers :
How can I get shows from tivo onto my Sony PSP
4/13/05 Update The authors of PSP Video 9 have incorporated the above .tivo file recognition and AviSynth into their application. This means you can skip the above steps and manipulate TiVo files directly through the free PSP Video 9, which also includes PSP synchronization features.
If you experience bad audio/video sync or crashes with your configuration, unwrap .tivo files using GraphEdit or DirectShow Dump as described above, and then run your .mpeg through PSP Video 9.FYI X Copy PSP rips DVD's to the appropriate resolution, file size, and file type with appropriate labeling onto your PSP memory stick
|Written by T|
|Saturday, 26 March 2005|
| Courtesy of GameFries
Two days after the launch and I'm already looking around to try and squeeze extra functionality on my . Well, I got to thinking, the high contrast screen would be great for e-books. Why not? Might as well start hacking this glorious new piece of electronics ASAP.
So for today's lesson, we'll be using Davinci's Notebook, provided by the wonderful folks over at Project Gutenberg.
And here are some steps, you know, for people that like that sort of thing:
Look below to find out more about your PSP!
What is UMD?
UMD (Universal Media Disc) is a new, proprietary, high-capacity optical medium enabling game software, full-motion video and other forms of digital entertainment content such as movies and music, to be stored. The newly developed UMD is the next-generation compact storage media and at only 60mm in diameter, can store up to 1.8GB of digital data, making it perfect for a portable entertainment player like the PSP system. UMD stores a broad range of digital entertainment content including games, music, movies, and more. For example, a feature length film can fit on to a single UMD.
What format will the UMD Video be released in?
All films will be released in widescreen - compatible with the 16:9 screen on the PSP.
How do I download on to my PSP?
To view the tutorial, click here
Do I need special software to download to my PSP?
Yes, there is software available from Sony. To visit Sony's download site, click here.
There is also iPSP Movie Loader. iPSP Movie Loader works in two ways: by clicking a PSP Movie link on the web, or by double-clicking a downloaded PSP Movie Document. iPSP Movie Loader requires your PSP to be connected to your computer and mounted on the Desktop and an active connection to the internet. To download iPSP Movie Loader, click here
Can I connect my PSP system to my PC?
You'll need a USB cable that has a "Mini-B" connector (common for digital cameras) and a "Standard-A" connector (common for printers, etc). Plug the Mini-B side into the top of your PSP system and the Standard-A side into your PC. From the PSP system software, navigate to the top of the settings list and select "USB Connection." Your PC (Windows/Mac/Linux) should detect a new "Removable Disk Drive" that you can then access.
How do I use UMD with my PSP handheld?
Movies on UMD are inserted into the PSP player just like games. See the instructions that came with your device for more information.
Share a PSP Game
»Study the terrain. You may be lost, but your opponents aren’t. To avoid getting double-barreled in the back, learn the maps by playing alone. You’ll not only memorize layouts and weapon locales, but also find hidden shortcuts. Picture your enemy’s face when you snipe him through an open skylight.
»Work on strafing. Strafing – or sidestepping – is the best way to avoid getting a face full of metal in a close-quarters melee. But you need to vary your moves: Try two long side-to-side jumps followed by two short ones. The pattern is hard for opponents to figure out but easy for you to remember.
»Know your guns. Experiment with how different munitions work and how to use them effectively. Shooting a rocket into the ground near a foe will surely kill him, but you’ll need to know the blast radius. And be creative: Grenades, for example, are often more than lethal weapons – they’re sometimes used to flatten walls and move objects.
»Increase look speed. Set your controller to track faster – much faster. Initially, you’ll want to puke, but you’ll also be able to turn quicker than your foes. When someone attacks you, you’ll be able to whip around, splatter them across a wall, and continue on your way.
- Themes and Wallpaper—While the monthly background color change that was the only option with previous versions of the firmware remains as the “Original” theme, you can now select any of the 12 colors as your default theme as well. Also, you can navigate to Photo—>Memory Stick, choose any of your pictures and click X to display the picture. While it is displayed, hit the Triangle button and choose Set as Wallpaper from the control panel to make that image the background wallpaper image for your PSP’s main control interface.
- Transfer pictures via WiFi—While you are viewing a picture, you can also hit the Triangle button and select send to attempt to send the picture to another PSP. While either having the Memory Stick selected under Photo or one of the folders in your Memory Stick selected, you can hit the Triangle button and choose Receive to receive images from other PSPs. This file transfer over WiFi feature unfortunately doesn’t seem to work with Videos or Music, but that’s to be expected. The good news is that it most likely won’t be too difficult to trick the PSP into thinking that your computer is another PSP; WiFi transferring of pictures between your computer and your PSP probably isn’t that far away.
- New Security—Now there’s support for both WPA and WEP WiFi security (before, there had only been WEP). Also, there is a new Internet Browser Start Control Password to work with parental controls to block access to the new web browser.
- Web Browser—Not only can you browse the web rather nicely and set up book marks. You can also edit webforms (I posted to this site earlier with it), You can also download pictures from websites you visit and then set the picture as your wallpaper. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would bet you can download video as well. I need to test to see if I can download attachments, like Word documents, etc. I may not be able to open them on the PSP, but if I can download them, that at least is something. The screen looks great for web browsing. Flash doesn’t work, but who cares?
I wish the analog stick would let you scroll up and down and around the page. Right now, the analog stick lets you move around the contents of the current screen, panning and scanning from left to right, but to move up and down a page, you have to use the directional keypad to jump erratically between links.Update: Holding down the Square button allows for scrolling around the page with the analog stick. Also, the browser supports tabbed browsing. You can only have 3 tabs, by the looks of it, and you cannot seem to launch a link into one of the tabsyou can only launch links in tabs by bringing up the browser’s interface (Triangle) and selecting File then Open Link in Different Tab, but this could be useful for keeping webmail open in the background while you surf around. Or for surfing on one tab, while posting to your website in another. However, that’s the Achilles heel of the PSP web browser: text entry. Once there’s a nice little USB keyboard that works nicely with this, it is going to kill.
These are all my early first impressions. Check back for more later.
UPDATE: Downloading files—Here’s what I just did. On my PSP, I went to this page, which is where Rocketboom provides PSP and 3GPP ports of all their vlogs. Really cool. Now, I selected one of the formatted for the PSP videos with the mouse and hit the Triangle button, which brings up the browser interface. Select the control on the far left, called “File”, hit the X button, and the 3rd option down is “Save Link Target.” Choose this option, hit X, change the Destination field to /MP_ROOT/100MNV01, then click X to confirm that you want to save in that folder, then select Save and hit X again. The download will begin. Hit the Home button, go over to Video, select your Memory Stick and hit the X button. The file should be there. Click X and play. Who needs a computer? It looks like you can also save files to the Music folder, a Common area, and a few other spots. Pretty cool.
‘NOTHER UPDATE: Okay. It doesn’t look like it worked after all. The file was downloaded and the next time I connected my PSP to my computer it was sitting there, but the .mp4 at the end of the file wasn’t capitalized so it didn’t show up on the PSP. After capitalizing it myself it showed up as corrupted data. Hmmm. Rocketboom problem, or downloading problem?
NEXT DAY UPDATE: So I spent some (probably too much) time last night, lying in bed surfing around the net on my PSP. The web-browsing capabilities on this thing are sweet: Much faster than my Palm LifeDrive, my old PocketPC, or any of the various PDAs and little non-computers that I’ve tried surfing the web with in the past. As I mentioned before, there is tabbed browsing (with only 3 tabs) and you can open links in one of the available tabs. You can also download files to the PSP and, unlike my LifeDrive, the PSP will accept downloads of file types with which it isn’t familiar. Last night, I downloaded several pictures from my Flickr page (and I then made one of these pics the wallpaper for my PSP), I downloaded a few podcasts and MP3s (and then navigated over to Music and listened to them immediately), and I downloaded a few Word documents and a few PDFs to the Common folder of my Memory Stick. I couldn’t access these files via the PSP, but they are there and ready for viewing the next time I plug my PSP into my computer. UPDATE: Forgot to mention that it works with Bloglines too.
The only downsides I’ve seen with the web-browser is the lack of Flash-support and that some rather crowded sites give you a “Not enough memory” error when you navigate to them, but 9 times out of 10, the site still loads after you cancel out of the error. Also, if you are going to use the PSP as any sort of real web-capable device for long periods, you’re going to want to invest in a few backup battery packs. This thing devours battery life when surfing.
Things I haven’t tried yet, but which look promising:
- Evidently the new firmware can play iTunes AAC files, (the non-DRMed type) as long as you change the .M4A to .MP4 (which you can do on the fly as you download the files).
- There’s already some new homebrew projects for v2.0 emerging. It’s not emulators or games launching on the PSP itself, but it’s a pretty cool means of packaging your text documents for easy reading via the web browser. No more need to convert all your text documents to JPEG!
- Use Gmail as 2GBs of remote PSP storage accessible via the browser. Nice.
Also, Dave’s iPaq has a video of how to grab podcasts with the PSP for those of you who are interested in the step-by-step. And, thanks to R.J. in the comments, I now know of a new place where I can get some nice backgrounds for my PSP.