Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flash Player 10.2 for Android Handsets and 10.3 for Motorola Xoom Tablet

Devices powered by the Android OS are gaining in popularity, with first quarter 2011 sales of Android-powered devices far outstripping those of Apple's iOS and Research In Motion's BlackBerry OS.

Yet the success brings with it a major issue—OS forking and code modification—inherent to open-source operating systems. The biggest area where this divergence can be viewed (or not viewed, as the case my be) is in the area of media consumption.

Our most recent report, titled The Right Fit? Video Playback Performance on Android Handset and Tablet Devices Using Adobe Flash Player 10.2 and 10.3 delves into the question of Adobe's Flash Player as a potential universal player for various media types on Android phones and tablets. 

We found that Adobe Flash Player seems to be progressing, alongside advances in the Android OS itself, to a point where we're seeing full frame-rate, high-quality playback on a number of devices.

While this sounds like a no-brainer, our last set of tests found few devices capable of playing 24 frame per second (fps) content at 24 fps, let alone playing back traditional video content at the 29.97 fps required to match fluid television playback.

Yet the past two months have significantly upped the ante: Adobe Flash Player 10.3 on the Motorola Xoom tablet was able to match native content's frame rates (both 24 and 29.97 fps) once the Motorola Xoom was upgraded to Android OS 3.1. This is an increase of 10-15% in frames-per-second playback, compared to Flash Player 10.2 on Android 3.0.1—the original shipping Xoom operating system.

In addition, the Motorola Atrix handset, which contains the same dual-core Tegra 2 processor and GPU, turned in impressive results. The Samsung Galaxy S also improved over its results in our initial tests of six Android handsets and now takes advantage of hardware acceleration for decoding.

The combination of an updated Android OS and an updated Adobe Flash Player seems to provide a much more consistent media experience for the average user.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Video Compression for Flash, Apple (iOS) devices and HTML5

Jan Ozer, a colleague and friend who writes for Streaming Media magazine and a number of other online and magazine publications, has just released his most recent book: Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5.

The 258-page book covers the title's topics in detail, looking first at the evolution of the H.264 video codec (also known at AVC as well as MPEG-4 Part 10 for ITU and ISO) and how it has been adopted by Adobe for Flash Player, Apple for its past and current player (QuickTime 7 and QuickTime X, respectively) and Microsoft for its Silverlight player.

Jan then moves on to the questions of royalties (a topic I've covered in multiple articles, including one on H.264 and one on WebM) and then moves into the meat of the book: tips and tricks for working with a variety of compressor tools, including Apple's Compressor, Rhozet's Carbon Coder, Sorenson's Squeeze, Telestream's Episode and several others.

When it comes to specific environments where H.264 content will be played back, Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5 really shines. Whether it's encoding for the specific vagaries of Blu-Ray discs, Apple's multiple iOS devices—including the variations for iPhone/iPod versus the larger screen size of the iPad—or just the basics of Flash or Silverlight playback, the book examines processing and protocols necessary to make your streaming or offline delivery of H.264 a success. 

Jan's focus is on software-only encoding solutions, but the principles are the same for hardware-based encoding and transcoding solutions, such as the Elemental Server, Elemental Live and Inlet Spinnaker products tested during last year's 2010 Best Workflows report. 

I highly recommend Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5 for anyone needing to refine their media compression workflow, as the tips and insights Jan Ozer provides are pertinent to a variety of today's hottest consumer electronics devices.