As handheld devices become faster and more powerful, portable video is starting to look pretty good. Most Pocket PCs, Palm PDAs and plenty of mobile phones are now capable of playing movie files but due to format and storage restrictions, video clips need to be converted before they’re transferred to your chosen device.
This is where SmartMovie comes in. This popular and handy application includes all the tools you might need to have that music video, film or home-movie playing on your handheld device in a couple of minutes. Videos might well need to be re-formatted and/or cropped, as well as having their quality and display size reduced to save on space. SmartMovie can perform all of these tasks with ease, and without too much trouble on your part.
We found that in terms of its basic functions, SmartMovie works admirably well. Despite an unattractive and cluttered user-interface, opening and working with video files ran pretty smoothly. Until, that is, we tried to open movies made with Apple’s .mov extension.
A problem with video codecs meant that we couldn’t work with .mov files until we downloaded some 3rd party software from websites we weren’t familiar with. Clearly, there are a range of copyright issues which may prevent Lonely Cat Games from bundling codecs with their software. SmartMovie was helpful in advising us to download new codecs as well as providing a link to the download page for various codec packs. Once we’d installed a couple of these packs, the .mov files opened without any bother.
Another small issue we observed was short sound glitches each time we opened a video file. While not a serious problem, errors like this give users a bad impression of the software which is, in SmartMovie’s case, undeserved. This program’s range of features and options for resizing and cropping movies as well as altering their frequency and bit-rate is impressive, if a little daunting. The well implemented ‘context help’ feature proved to be a really useful feature in itself, simply explaining the functions of each tool.
SmartMovie, for its general success in shrinking and chopping your movie files, ranks well among its competitors in the video conversion market. But its ugly design and small annoyances let it down somewhat, meaning that though we’ll probably continue using this program, we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes open for a decent (and ideally free) competitor.