kinoma play

Kinoma Play, one of our favorite Windows Mobile multimedia players has been updated and now sports location-based features and has tied it into its built-in Twitter app. (Pretty cool for spying on your tweeting neighbors.)

In addition, tweets containing YouTube or Flickr images now open within Kinoma Play instead of launching a browser.

There are a few more bugfixes and updates in this build, too. Find 'em all on the Kinoma blog, and get the update directly in the Kinoma Play app.

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1

Google Reader now on Kinoma Play

Couple of cool updates for Kinoma Play this week. First up is the addition of Google Reader. (For the uninitiated, Google Reader is an RSS reader. For the un-uninitiated, see Malatesta's oldie but goodie piece on the importance of RSS.)

For all intents and purposes, what Kinoma is giving us here is access to feeds already in Google Reader. And that's nice because there's little I hate more than having to reload (or export) feeds from one place to another. Just sign in, and everything shows up. Kinoma says its GR app is in beta, so be forewarned.

Also added is Yelp (a location-based local business search) and Flights, as the name suggests, tracks flights.

More info over at the Kinoma blog. To get the new apps, first get the latest update of Kinoma Play, then choose "Get apps" from the home screen.

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Kinoma Play just got another update that fixes some nagging issues some of you were seeing previously. The Youtube function was having trouble playing the occasional video and has been fixed. There also have been a number of improvements made to the embedded Twitter app in Version 5.1.56, as well as to the App Store by Mobihand and a few of the advanced settings.

There's more info about all the fixes on the Kinoma blog. You may be prompted that the update's ready for download, or you can go to the Right softkey>Player>Check for updates to get things rolling.

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5

Sync Kinoma Play to iTunes with Salling Media

On my computer, you will find nary a sign of any Apple software as iTunes stopped being a "neat" app about, I dunno, 4 years ago.

But for those of you who still load that behemoth and want to sync with your trusty Kinoma Play on WinMo (see update), looks like your dream is now a reality due to some third-party freeware by Salling Software.

According to Kinoma, which is officially supporting this method, Salling Media Sync "...automatically identifies phones running Kinoma Play and syncs all the audio formats that Kinoma Play supports." 

The app is "free" for basic use but will cost ya' $22 beans for you heavy sync'ers and those wanting faster sync times (I'd imagine that would be everyone?).  Hey, if the Pre can do it, so can WinMo.  Hmph!

Update: Looks like Kinoma has rolled out a small update from previous v5.1.46 to v5.1.48.

Mostly looks like a "cleaning up" update after the big one just recently, as this tidies up some naming conventions, UI interaction, G-sensor adjustments and just general patches.  It also seems to be a bit speedier, though I still have to wait 2-4 seconds to go back to the launcher on my Treo Pro.  Hmm.

Other changes include:

  • More Home shortcuts — The last released introduced a super-convenient shortcut that lets you go Home just by holding the Center key on your 5-way. Now, you can press-and-hold the Back button as well.
  • Live365 — The “More” now works correctly for stations listings and presets, and we fixed an issue where audio scrobbling didn’t work for everyone.
  • Facebook Media — We updated the terminology to match the current Facebook style (i.e. “What are you thinking?”).
  • Get Apps — We improved the way screen shots appear on screen to make your eyes happier.
  • Improved press-and-hold feedback — Now when you press-and-hold on lists and grids to bring up the menu pod, a nifty icon appears to show when you’ve pressed long enough. Didn’t mean to do that? Just drag the screen to continue doing what you were doing.

Get the update now via

Menu --> Player --> Check for Updates!

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We teased you a bit the other day with video of the latest version of Kinoma Play (albeit in Japanese), but now it's ready for the rest of us, in English.

This is a major upgrade for Kinoma Play that they're dubbing a "Social Media Browser," and new features include customizable Kinoma home pages, Facebook integration, direct access to the Mobihand app store, Twitter integration, Last.fm, a built-in RSS reader, a free gigabyte of space from Box.net, the already outstanding Yoututbe player and support for Flickr and Picasa.

Another new feature (to Kinoma at least) is support for the AVRCP Bluetooth protocol, aka the ability control playback from a Bluetooth device. Huzzah!

For those of you already rocking the full version of Kinoma Play (watch our original review here), the update should be available the next time you launch the app. (Or you can get it manually with the "Check for update" function.) If you're looking to buy, it'll run you $29.99. That's definitely not cheap for a Windows Mobile app, but, in our opinion, you get what you pay for here. (And for those of you wondering, Kinoma FreePlay will get an update, too.)

Learn more over at Kinoma.com, and the full presser's after the break.

Update: After applying the upgrade, you'll have to re-save all of your "favorites" within Kinoma Play. I could find most of mine in the Kinoma Guide, but you may want to track down some of your lesser-known links in advance. But this also gives you the opportunity to add the to the home screen and try that out. But be forewarned.

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If we had to pick one thing to be excited about in the coming year, the 1Ghz Snapdragon processors would be high on the list. And here we get a look at it hand-in-hand on a variant of the Toshiba TG01 with a future build of Kinoma Play, the uber-multimedia player of which we've been fans for a while.

What's really interesting with this new build is that it becomes a home screen within the Windows Mobile shell, with different pages you can pan through. (Yep, it's a lot like the iPhone's home screen. Can't say we blame 'em. And we like the idea of extra pages above and below.)

There's also a built-in app store, with downloaded apps sent straight to the Kinoma home screen. The already very functional podcatcher gets a refresh, and a full-on RSS reader will be added.

Yeah, this demo's done on a phone with some major processing power. (That's the version of the TGO1 that's destined for Japan's NTT docomo network.)  But we definitely like the direction that Kinoma play's going. No release date yet, so we'll be checking Kinoma's Web site.

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My dream job has always been either a professional basketball player or photographer. While my skills on the court negated the latter possibility, I did work my way through college as a newspaper photographer enjoying every assignment.  While my career path shifted after college, I've always kept a hand in photography and an eye for good picture sources. 

The Big Picture is a photo blog created by Alan Taylor for The Boston Globe. According to the Globe, "The Big Picture is intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery - with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting."  No arguments here.

The blog has one of the best collections of photographs I've seen in a long time. While this site more commonly accessed on a desktop/laptop, Kinoma Play is now offering it as a channel with zoom and pan capabilities that retains the high quality aspects of each photograph. The Big Picture is in the Kinoma Guide at Pictures and Podcasts>The Big Picture. The blog is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Via Fuze Mobility

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4

Kinoma Play unleashes update No. 3

Call us fans ('cause we are), but it's nice to see regular updates like this from a Windows Mobile developer, with the updates implemented from inside the application.

And without further ado, the latest update to Kinoma Play brings improvements to:

The file scanner (one of our biggest sources of consternation):

  • Kinoma Play now scans for media when you select My Media Files, instead of on startup. This is especially convenient when you launch Kinoma Play primarily to play online media.
  • You can now choose between Automatic and Manual scanning in Settings > Library.
    Even with Automatic scanning turned on, scanning can now be canceled other than the first time a new source — like a new Storage Card — is detected.
  • A new Scan command appears at the top of My Media Files if Kinoma Play detects that My Media Files may not be up-to-date (i.e. if a previous scan was canceled, or if Automatic scanning is off).

Indeed, those are all good improvements.

Playback on screens that rotate (a la the Touch Diamond, et al):

  • On the HTC Touch Diamond, Kinoma Play now uses its orientation sensor to automatically rotate the screen to the correct orientation (0, 90, and 270°)
  • Software keyboards (SIPs) are now handled properly on rotated screens.
  • Rotated video playback performance has been improved on some phones.

Good. Good. And finally:

  • Kinoma Play responds more quickly to the appearance and disappearance of Bluetooth audio devices, like Bluetooth headphones and speakers.
  • The installer now works on “Tier 2” phones, which have more stringent security requirements. For anyone who experienced a “security failure” on installation, this release should fix that.
  • This release includes preliminary support for the soon-to-be-released Sony Ericsson Xperia X1.

Excellent. Even better than just offering bug fixes is looking ahead to the future, assuming that darn Xperia X1 ever sees the light of day. Now just give us some AVRCP love, and we'll be happy campers. Fire up Kinoma Play and get your update.

To read what we got the in first two updates, click here and here. And if you still haven't tried Kinoma Play, check out Dieter's excellent review.

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2

Kinoma Play gets another update

Another Friday, another software update from the folks at Kinoma. We could get used to this kind of treatment.

This time around we get clipboard auto-paste, handy for entering URLs; an honest to goodness exit menu command; power management fixes; an improvement to the auto scan; and network issues.

Give the update a go, and let us know in the comments if you're seeing any improvement in your scan time.

And check in after the jump for the full list of fixes in Version 5.0.60.

Full list of updates:

  • Open URL now features “clipboard auto-paste” — if you’ve previously copied a URL, it’ll be entered by default.
  • You can now exit Kinoma Play with the new Exit command, available from Kinoma Play’s main screen in the Player menu. Previously, Microsoft strongly preferred that Windows Mobile handle exiting automatically. Recently, Microsoft updated their guidelines to allow for PC-style exit commands. You can still let the Windows Mobile handle this for you if you prefer.
  • All known power management issues have been fixed. Now you can turn off the screen manually on Windows Mobile Professional/Pocket PC and Kinoma Play will keep playing as you’d expect, just as it previously has on Windows Mobile Smartphone. (Note: A handful of phones shut off Wi-Fi when you shut off the screen. That’s a bug in the Wi-Fi driver that can only be fixed by the phone maker.)
  • We found some phones that misreported the type of CPU they have, which could cause slower-than-expected video performance and occasionally even crashes. We’ve come up with a workaround that should fix this for any affected phones.
  • The media scanner now automatically excludes more folders used by apps (TomTom, GoodSync) that put application image/audio resources in unexpected places.
  • We fixed a rare scenario where Kinoma Play would wake up grumpy after going to sleep while doing network access, and consequently use way too much CPU time.
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Kinoma Play gets its first software update

Launched less than two weeks ago, the Kinoma Play media player (check out our full review) already has rolled out its first update.

The update mostly appears to be bug fixes or "improvements."

The deets:

  • More "finger-friendly" for phones with hi-resolution (VGA+) screens, including the HTC Touch Diamond.
  • On touchscreen phones, the menu pod supports left and right swipes to move between menus.
  • Norwegian language support (hilsener!).
  • Improved support for phones with both slide-out QWERTY keyboards and phone keypads.
  • Improved support for resuming video and audio streamed with Orb (requires Orb v2.01.0017 or newer).
  • Improved compatibility with podcast feeds hosted by FeedBurner (say, for instance, the WM Experts podcast!)
  • Improved Google Video compatibility.
  • Correct presentation of multipart Audible audiobooks.

According Kinoma's blog, the application should automatically notify you of the update. Or, you can manually go to Player>Check for Updates.

We'd still like to see some adjustments to automatic (and overaggressive) media scan on startup. And any improvement to the memory footprint would be a good thing (when is it not?).

But for an application still in its Windows Mobile infancy, an upgrade this early is an obvious sign (as is the activity on Kinoma's forum as well as our own) that the company is paying attention.

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32

Review: Kinoma Play

Kinoma Play ($29.99) is the new media player we've been hinting at in our series of media player reviews this past week. It's essentially a super-charged media player that aims to make media you find on the internet as easy to find, play, and interact with as the media stored locally on your memory card. Those of you familiar with Kinoma Player EX on the Palm OS are going to be pleased to hear that all the functionality of the PalmOS's player is here and then some.

Above, a quick video demo and review of Kinoma Play. After the break, a gallery of screenshots and a bit more. Read on!

Overview

As I mentioned above, the core purpose of Kinoma Play is to help you discover and play media both on your device as well as on the internet. In addition to a solid media player that handles audio, video, and images with relative easy and aplomb, Kinoma Play sports a comprehensive online media guide for finding, listening, and downloading media. It also has the ability to interact with several online accounts such as Flickr, Live365, Audible, and others for both accessing and uploading media.

I'm very impressed with Kinoma and I'll let the conclusion slip here at the start: I think it's an incredible piece of software that must be at least tried out by every Windows Mobile user. The Kinoma FreePlay (warning, link will auto-download the software) software includes much of what the full version can do. That link will give you a list of what it cannot.

That said, there is one very important caveat to recommending Kinoma Play: it's not at all shy about using your Program Memory. Kinoma Play can hover anywhere between using 6 and 9 megs of RAM (!) at any point while you're using it. The other unfortunate part is that Kinoma Play seems to default to auto-scanning your device every time it starts up, so it takes quite awhile to launch. It also doesn't respect some Memory Management systems like “hold X to close” on HTC devices (though it does quit cleanly when stopped by the task manager).

Browser

As you can see from the video above, Kinoma Play was a little overly aggressive in scanning and found a few odd things like XML files from Newsgator (read them as playlists) and album art. Fortunately, every screen in the browser has access to Kinoma's “Menu Pod” (more on that in a bit) with quality “Get Info” bits to help you hunt down where these files are -- however, there's no option to tell Kinoma to ignore certain directories.

Finding and organizing your media is important to any Player and Kinoma Play's browser is among the best I've used. After it (finally) gets finished scanning, you can use either the touchscreen or the 5-way pad to quickly navigate around standard sections like Playlists, Artists, Albums, etc.

There's also “type to find” within lists as well as a full search of your local device. All of which was very snappy on the two devices I tested on (Treo Pro and Motorola Q9h).

There's also robust playlist support. In addition to being able to read standard WM Player playlists, Kinoma lets you create your own easily. The great thing is that these playlists actually maintain album structure -- making them much more browsable and editable on the go.

There are two other bits to the Browser that are essential to the Kinoma Play experience: Favorites and History. “Favorites” seems like an odd thing in a media player, but it becomes essential when you start discovering content you like within Kinoma Play's internet media guide.

History is simply awesome. It keeps a history of all the media you've played for at least a few seconds (I believe it's 10 [Update: Make that 100] so you can go back to it. When you do go back to it, Kinoma Play remembers your place. It remembers, mind you, whether you were watching a YouTube video, listening to a podcast (woo hoo!), or streaming an audio book (Kinoma Play allows you to stream audible.com books).

Menu Pod

I mentioned the menu pod above, it's a relatively simple thing but makes a big difference in feel. When you hit the right soft-key, instead of getting a standard pop-up menu, you get the above menu in the center of the screen instead. The main difference here as opposed to a standard menu is that they're able to split up the various functions into tabs so you can more quickly find what it is you'd like to do.

Player

The player functions on Kinoma Play are fairly comprehensive -- allowing you to play the following media files:

Video: MPEG-4 Video SP and AVC/H.264 codecs, 3GPP (same as MPEG-4), Flash Video (Sorenson Spark codec), QuickTime Movie (same as MPEG-4) and Windows Media 9 (WMV9 codec) video formats. For streaming, Kinoma Play supports HTTP, RTSP, and MMS streaming

Audio: MP3, AAC (iTunes), aacPlus, Flash Video (MP3 in an FLV), and Windows Media Audio 9 audio formats. It also supports FLAC uncompressed audio. For streaming, Kinoma Play supports HTTP, RTSP, and MMS streaming.

The player has easy to use play / pause / back / forward buttons, 'scrubbing' within tracks and best of all, is ridiculously good at saving your place within each track. The nice thing about the player within Kinoma Play is that you have the exact same interface for nearly every type of media you can play on Kinoma, from local music to streamed YouTube video.

Kinoma Play also has a “player” for photos, which sports a slightly different interface. This interface does work with touch as well, but it's actually easy to use the 5-way pad to toggle between different photo interaction modes like zoom, pan, and rotate. Animations for all of the above are snappy.

Here (as elsewhere) you really get a feel for Kinoma Play's excellent 5-way support. This is probably the first Windows Mobile app that I've used that doesn't make me feel punished for using it on a non-touchscreen device.

Both the Audio/Video interface and the Photo interface work identically whether you're using them to access local or streamed content, they're very fluid and responsive -- for the most part.

Kinoma and the Cloud

All of the above would make Kinoma Play worthy (if memory-intensive) media player -- easily a contender for the best-on-Windows-Mobile prize. What's really incredible about Kinoma Play is how well it interacts with media out on the internet. There's a guide of media available from hundreds of media sources, from YouTube to Flickr to the BBC.

Kinoma auto-detects your bandwidth occasionally and then dynamically adjusts what bitrates its downloading at to ensure a good mix of speed and quality. It's able to search across the entire guide or within certain sites. You can add anything to the “favorites” so you can find them more quickly. You can save any file locally, email files you've found, and so on.

Sincerely, with a sufficiently fast connection, it makes internet media feel like it's local to your device.

The other thing Kinoma Play is savvy about, cloud-wise, is that it is able to integrate with several online services like YouTube, Flicker, Live365, and Audible. You can provide your login info to Kinoma so you can access your own data. For example, if you're logged into YouTube you can upload videos directly to your account from Kinoma, rate movies, and so on.

Heck, if you have an iDisk, Kinoma can read media file (though nothing else) from that too. Kinoma is also compatible with Orb for streaming media from your desktop.

Conclusion

I said it at the top: Kinoma Play is super. The History / Favorites / Podcast combo is simply killer, it's made Kinoma my default Podcast player.

I very much recommend that everybody with a Windows Mobile device give it a try -- but be sure you try it before you buy it, because as I said the sucker gobbles RAM like The Nothing gobbles up The Neverending Story. If you can spare the RAM, you will probably find yourself sparing the $29.99 to buy the full version.

You can buy Kinoma Play here ($29.99) and download the “Freeplay” version at this link.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Playing Local Media: 5
  • Finding Internet Media: 5
  • Streaming Media (and Podcasts!): 5
  • RAM Usage: 2

Overall:

Pros

  • Good Player
  • Easy to browse and search locally
  • Just as easy to browse and search internet media
  • Decent file support
  • History / Playlist / Favorites

Cons

  • Sucks down RAM
  • Scanning takes too long and is overly aggressive about including files
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