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Playing Cell Phone Videos on Your Computer

Question: I emailed myself a video I took from my blackberry curve. When i try to play the video on my computer it says it can't find the file extension. What is the deal?

Answer: The deal is that you either need a program installed on your computer that can play the video file, or a program that will convert it to a common video format like Quicktime or Windows Media.

I'll cover both approaches, and will introduce you to some free and low-cost programs that'll handle the video viewing and converting. I'll also show you how to convert Quicktime or Windows Media videos into a format that can be viewed on a Blackberry, iPhone, or virtually any mobile device that supports video.

Video Players

Most computers come with some form of a video player, such as Windows Media Player that plays video files with a .wmv extension. You can also get the Quicktime video player for free from Apple that plays .mp4 video files.

However, videos that are recorded from a mobile device will usually have a different file extension, such as .3GP for movies recorded on Motorola RAZR phones. These videos won't play in Quicktime or Windows Media.

You'll need a video player designed to read the video format that your specific mobile device uses, or better yet - one that can play a wide range of video formats so that you'll still be in luck if you switch phones in the future.

Rather then look for a universal video file player, look for a video file converter. Not only will you get the ability to view all kinds of video files, but you'll be able to convert them to be viewable on other devices or other computer systems like a Macintosh. Two for the price of one.

Video Converters

I've been a fan of Aimersoft's DVD Ripper because it let's me rip copy-protected movies and backup my movie library, so naturally I checked with them first for video converters.

It turns out that Aimersoft recently developed an HD video converter that supports literally every video format I've ever seen, from .3GP cell phone videos, to iPhone videos, Blackberry videos, AVI, WMV, MP4 - you name it.

Aimersoft HD Video Converter will play videos recorded on your Blackberry on your computer, and will also let you convert those videos to HD-quality formats that will play in Quicktime, Windows Media, and even on your regular DVD player (*.vob format).

There are two Aimersoft features I use often. The first is a huge time saver - the ability to batch convert several videos in one shot. Just add the videos to the list, select the output format (iPhone 3G in the example shown above) and away you go. You can even combine all of the videos into a single video.

The second feature I like is the ability to take still shots of the video and save them in a variety of image file formats.

Aimersoft HD Video Converter can be downloaded here.

QT Pro is the only app I've seen out of the box that plays some of the odder 3GPP phone files. Samsung Instinct is one of the worst offenders.

If you take a lot of video with your phone, pay the $29 for QT pro. Or get a phone that does real video. HTC Touch line work great - bog standard video, good resolution, 30FPS. Be interested to see what iPhone 3 and Palm Pre do for video standards.

Thanks for the tip, Will.

I'm hoping to snag an iPhone 3GS at the end of the month, along with a Pre to do some comparisons.

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