Video Playback virtually impossible on Neo Freerunner? (Re: Video of Qt 4.4 on Neo1973: brings iPhone like graphics)

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) raster at
Thu Apr 24 15:07:24 CEST 2008

On Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:06:32 +0200 Christoph Witzany <mail at>

> Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) schrieb:
> > <snip>
> > 320x240 video would be sane possibly if the source is
> > internal flash instead of SD or maybe 802.11.
> >
> >   
> Well ... that is not so bad ... even if the fact that sd card cannot be 
> the source for is a bit sad ...

i can say now - 320x240 mpeg4 video with mplayer using xvideo on the gta02 even
can't play at 30fps. i was wrong with my guess. it is dropping 25% of the
frames. so as such actually i correct this. i was too optimistic. you can more
likely manage 20fps @ 320x240. this is mpeg4 - so mpeg1 and 2 may be better as
they are simpler codecs. do remember when i say resolution - i mean the video
itself. the hardware can SCALE it to fill the screen, but this is taking
320x240 video and scaling it up (adding blur) so of course the quality isn't
that good. remember too that color information is half that resolution in each
dimension again (160x120 - though depends on codec).

so you will be able to play video - and fill the screen, but the SOURCE video
will need to be encoded at a lower framerate or resolution. you will pay a
quality price one way or another.

> >> Well that could have the potential to kill the Freerunner as consumer 
> >> product. Just because virtually every other 100$ phone does it which is 
> >> shaping the consumers' expectations.
> >> And while I do not expect to use this feature more than a couple times a 
> >> month it would make me reconsider using it as my main phone (I'll be 
> >> using it as development platform, so it doesn't matter for now).
> >
> > well we could quietly say nothing and wait until you find out, but my
> > position is just to put the facts out as-is and give you my best
> > interpretation of them. 
> Yes that's the great thing about openmoko, and my intent was definitely 
> not to shoot the messenger.
> It's *much* better to know now than to find out.


> > remember every other $100 phone is *NOT* $100 - it is $300 or $400 or $500
> > - it is SUBSIDISED by the carrier. when you sing up saying you will pay the
> > telco money for the next 12 or 24 months, they subsidies the phone. when
> > the carrier tells the phone maker "disable this feature so the customer HAS
> > to pay us to send their photos via email, instead of just using usb or
> > sd-cards" they subsidise it further hoping/knowin they will xtort more
> > money from you in services etc. etc. if you want the REAL cost - ask the
> > carrier what you would pay for the phone with NO contract, or find a shop
> > that sells the same phone "unlocked".
> >   
> Well, no, I'm aware of this. I really meant 100$ phone (without contract 
> and carrier subsidising, and yes I
> priced in the feature inflation til autumn when the Freerunner will have 
> to compete with other phones).
> > secondly these "$100" phones are mostly QVGA, not VGA. we have to
> > fill/drive 4 times as many pixels as they do.
> >   
> Valid point, but as you said the Freerunner will not be able to play 
> QVGA from the SD Card ...

yup. can't manage it anyway - not 30fps. 20fps - yes. but not from SD. actully
just did a test. 320x24- video played off SD card (uncached - i am pretty
sure). same video as above - i went down from 21 to 19fps for sdcard. so right
now i'd be feeling ok saying QVGA @ 15fps video is ok (scaled up ok).

> > thirdly - they don't (mostly) offer wifi. in fact they don't do a lot the
> > freerunner does. an actual $100 phone (that is $100 when unlocked) does very
> > very very very little - the $100 ones u think of are actually much more.
> >
> >   
> Well I estimate that in autumn the Motorola K1 will be in that range, 
> eg. It does not have WLAN, of course, and it doesn't even have
> However I did not want to make a point about the openmoko's capabilities 
> vs. such a cheap phone. *I* still think the freerunner
> is worth every penny of the 400$.
> I wanted to make a point about *consumer expectations*. And if even a 
> phone like the K1 plays Video, people will expect a device of
> freerunners class to have this capability.

i know. no need to tell me :) you're preaching to the choir. hell preaching to
the priest. :) graphics are my thing. it's what i do. i know where freerunner
stands. i see no reason to be over-optimistic about it. we with squeeze a bit
more out of it, but frankly with each squeeze comes a mountain more effort to
get there. at some point you need to know where to call it quits. :( more WORK
can be done - but you are not going to double its speed. there are hardware
limitations we just won't be beating the walls down of :(

> >> I think that this design should be reconsidered as soon as possible if 
> >> Openmoko really wants to go into the consumer market.
> >>     
> >
> > it can't be. it's too late in production. freerunner is as-is. with the good
> > and the ugly. we are open about it and at least give you the option of doing
> > something about it, and knowing in advance all the gory details.
> >   
> Well of course not for the Freerunner (GTA2). And I'm very happy that 
> it's far too late for that because that means I'm gonna have mine soon.
> But for GTA3 this should be considered as an *very* important issue. But 
> that should go to another thread then.

don't worry. got this in hand. in general graphics is my pet topic. :)

> And again thank you for the detailed explanation of the really gory 
> details :)
> >> PS: What about streaming media from the net? Any musings and/or actual 
> >> experiences with that? If I interpreted Carsten right 640x480 video will 
> >> display at 5-10 fps at best, right?
> >>     
> >
> > you will be able to manage 320x240 at 30fps i expect streamed video. of course
> > if you lower the framerate you can increase the resolution. you can do the
> > math (with 15fps you get 2x the pixels - 448x336 at 15fps for example,
> > 640x480 at 7.5fps etc.).
> >   
> In a way that is great for my project that aims to develop a grid based 
> filesystem for mobile devices ;)


> > again - we could do better if we limited ourselves to just mpeg4 (which is
> > what almost all phones do - they do only 1 codec or maybe 2), but the
> > problem here is that xv does not provide a way to do this sanely (stream
> > just mpeg4 data to x so it decodes in hardware). the graphics chip (glamo)
> > can decode mpeg4 itself, but we dont have the time or resources to do this
> > properly ourselves. you are free to do it yourself as we provide all the
> > code, but you would need to reverse-engineer the graphics chip or hope that
> > graphics documentation can be made public. right now you need an NDA to see
> > the docs.
> >
> >   
> I'd love to see this, but as I'm not in the position to put considerable 
> efford into this either I will just shut up
> and not complain :)

:( it is a shame - but we have limits to our own resources. if we sell enough
freerunners and go on to make better phones that are also open, our resources
should increase and our ability to demand not just open drivers, but open
documentation too on the hardware and the ability to do more work prior to
release to make more of given chipsets. if you follow the hardware lists you
may get an idea of what is being done. info will trickle out over time, but
next phone is not just around the corner. freerunner is, so don't bank your
chickens on the next one yet. :)

what freerunner *IS* good at is nice high resolution still images. it is NOT
good at motion (animation). that's possibly the simplest way i know to describe
its graphics :) great for ebook and text reading. great for your high-res
photos. don't expect a media-center out of it with swooshy bits and fanciness
and video at wonderful quality and resolutions and framerates.

Carsten Haitzler (The Rasterman) <raster at>

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