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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).

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

Overall:

Pros

Good PlayerEasy to browse and search locallyJust as easy to browse and search internet mediaDecent file supportHistory / Playlist / Favorites

Cons

Sucks down RAMScanning takes too long and is overly aggressive about including files
WC Staff
WC Staff
32 Comments
  • So in other words, it's like the original Kinoma 4 EX where it used to scan EVERYTHING on a SD card? They added selective scanning in the 4.2 release I think... wonder why they didn't add that to the WinMo edition.
    Do you know if those of us with Palm licenses will be able to use the windows mobile versions, or if they'll at least give us a discount?
    Also why does that Treo Pro look a lot like my 700wx, what with the Seven Beta running and the Opera 9.5 beta (I push this poor thing way too much)
  • If there's a setting to ignore parts of the card, I haven't found it yet.
    WRT: Palm license discounts -- don't think so. :(
    WRT: Seven and Opera Mobile -- Great minds think alike. ;)
  • I for one had very high hopes for this app and it seems Kinoma didn't disappoint. The price tag still sucks but whatever.
  • Just downloaded the freeplay and this thing is a amazing on the q9h. I have been waiting for something like this for a long time. Beautiful interface, integrated youtube that works in 6.1 way better than skyfire, and streaming radio. Everyone owes it to themselves to check this out. I will be getting the full version for sure. (And I never thought I would pay for an app for my phone :)
  • Any idea how I can get this running on an HP910? It says it hasnt been tested on the device yet and immediately shuts down
  • Hey Lulugirl896 -
    I'd contact them directly -- they may have some tips and/or a version that does a better job of logging errors...
  • FYI, you can get this for free, by using TrialPay. I signed up for the 14 day free trial of SuperPass and got Kinoma for free.
  • [INDENT]So in other words, it's like the original Kinoma 4 EX where it used to scan EVERYTHING on a SD card?[/INDENT]
    Just the first time, and then it's incremental. It only scans for media files, of course.
    [INDENT]Do you know if those of us with Palm licenses will be able to use the windows mobile versions, or if they'll at least give us a discount?[/INDENT]
    This morning around 4am PST we sent all of our Kinoma Player 4 EX customers an email explaining how to get their discount.
    -- Charles Wiltgen
  • [INDENT]Hey Lulugirl896 - I'd contact them directly -- they may have some tips and/or a version that does a better job of logging errors...[/INDENT]
    Just contact our support folks, and they'll take care of you.
    -- Charles Wiltgen
  • [INDENT]Hey Lulugirl896 - I'd contact them directly -- they may have some tips and/or a version that does a better job of logging errors...[/INDENT]
    Just contact our support folks, and they'll take care of you.
    -- Charles Wiltgen
  • Charles:
    How do you rename a favorite?
    Will it support turning off the screen during playback?
    So far, really happy with this.
  • I'm also really, happily upgraded from the POS version. Finally my phone feels like it has a worthy media player. Some requests though:
    5 band EQ
    shorter way to get back to the 'now playing' screen.
    remap bottons on the side of my Q to control Kinoma volume and mute in all apps.
    Are there any keyboard shortcuts? If not, why not? We got lots of buttons!
  • Its ok. I couldnt get it to switch to landscape for movies. I dont like the way the entire interface pages off on a song change. It needs XM support. It associated itself with all my files without asking. The music section does not distinguish podcasts, so it will mix podcasts in when shuffling music.
    Its a good v1.0 product but $30.00 is a mite bit expensive
  • - as mentioned, this really needs an option to turn off automatic scan or to control directories.
    - could not find some of my podcasts, and I don't see a way to manually input a feed. Maybe I am missing something?
    Other than that, in my 5-10 minutes of tinkering... very sharp!
  • I've got a few mild complaints with it (no landscape support, no home button, Orb video isn't as good as you can get out of TCPMP, needs file association options, would like an option to schedule downloads for podcasts.) But overall I was so blown away with the software and already bought it because I couldn't see myself living without it now that I've experienced it.
    The integration with online services like Flickr, YouTube, Orb and streaming radio (from a TON of sources, including local terrestrial streams) make it well worth the price. You can't beat the tightness and polish in the integration with those services, much less having access to that many services under one interface. And the overall interface as a whole is absolutely outstanding and a pleasure to use. I'll be curious to see the wrap-up because I know some apps like CorePlayer might rate higher for the heavy-duty tinkerers. But for sheer ease of use, interface and integration with online services this one blows them all away IMO.
  • In case anyone is interested, you can get it with a 20% off code via Geekzone's Mobihand store till 9/6. (There might be other 20% codes floating around out there, but this is the first one I found via Google.)
    Total price becomes: $23.99. Still expensive, but save $6.00.http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=7896
  • Very nice for a 1st release, but missing some basic stuff. Easily a must have once additional standard features are included...
  • For landscape mode. Assign a button to rotate the screen. Thats what i did with my Mogul and it works great.
  • For the record, FLAC is not uncompressed, its losslessly compressed.
  • Charles:
    [...]
    Will it support turning off the screen during playback?
    [...]
    I hope I do not misunderstand something, but it can't turn of the screen during audio playback?
    So, if I sit for hours in a train/plane, I'll have to be leaving the screen on?
    With regards to media scanning, I consider the option to specify the folders to be scanned as standard feature...
    best regards.
    How nice:
    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.)
    since Version 5.0.60. as just put on wmexperts main page.
  • Does this application play other flash sites besides Youtube such as CNBC or MSN Business videos?
    Also, does it play standalone FLV files?
    Thanks in advance - I don't yet own a WinMo device (waiting for Touch Pro on Sprint).
  • Plays tons of flash sites. Yes, yes, yes.
    (The only thing it refuses to play since POS days are .avi files!)
  • the lack of avi support is what's keeping Kinoma Play off of my device
  • I've never heard "slick" so much in my life.
  • I added it to my palm treo pro, it is ok, but it wont play audio on videos recorded with the phone, so if you own a treo pro you might wait for a fix ?
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