The iPhone: Lots to Love, but Flaws Too

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My Video Compression's That Bad, Huh?

Here's how nice the iPhone's screen is for video: For the first time, I'm looking at the videos I encoded for my iPod and thinking "Boy, I really compressed the heck out of that, didn't I?" Next time I encode video, I'll have to go with some higher-quality settings.

And that's where video on the iPhone gets a little tricky. Back on my 80GB iPod, the 530MB, 320-by-128 pixel version of Serenity I used as a demo looks just fine. Transfer it to the iPhone's beautiful 480-by-320-pixel display, and the low resolution really starts to show its warts. A 640-by-72-pixel copy of "Lord of War" I downloaded from the iTunes Store looked great, but at that resolution takes up 1.35GB, or one-third of the 4GB model's capacity. Even with an 8GB iPhone, TV shows are a better bet.

Once you get the video quality dialed in, though, the iPhone makes a great video player. We'll have to follow up a little later with battery tests during video playback, but every other aspect of iPhone video was top notch.

Tap the screen during playback to activate its on-screen play controls. There's an icon in the top-right corner that lets you automatically zoom in on widescreen movies if you can't stand the letterbox effect. The same progress indicator from the music side of the player lets you scrub through to your favorite parts of a video, and the iPhone showed very little lag when jumping from one point of a clip to another.

-- Eric Dahl

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