Video playback and recording capability is fast becoming a top concern for mobile phone buyers. pvAuthor is designed to take video files on your computer and convert them to a size, resolution and bit-rate suitable for playback on your phone.
When running it for the first time, pvAuthor presents you with a fairly complicated configuration interface. Its four tabs (Input, Clip Info, Encoding and Output) used what we felt was pretty technical language for a first time user. After selecting the input file, the program became unresponsive for a few seconds. This also happens when switching between tabs in the configuration interface. While this only lasted about three or four seconds, it was a little unnerving and caused noticeable jumps in a separate audio player program we were running at the same time. pvAuthor is a program apparently best used on its own, so as not to cause instability in your other apps.
The next important setting you’ll need to choose is the desired screen size of your finished product. Naturally, you’ll want to choose one that’s as close to your phone’s screen as possible. This option, however, is pretty difficult to find. It’s located under ‘Encoding’. On this tab, a series of sub-tabs appears at the bottom of the screen, and preferred output video size is located on the ‘Codec’ sub-tab. Quite why this important setting is hidden away in such an odd place, we couldn’t fathom. This and other strange and confusing factors made the whole user interface feel like the advanced settings for some much simpler program.
Settings for your preferred handset can be saved as profiles, which will take the hard work out of converting videos next time you come around to use the program. Individual movies’ settings can also be saved in sessions, though we felt that this feature was somewhat obsolete for most users who will probably only seek to convert each video file once.
In terms of video quality, pvAuthor performs admirably. The video it generated after we chose settings for a Nokia 6230i played well on that handset, and videos for phones with larger screens and more memory were likewise of a generally high quality. No doubt, we could have tweaked some settings in the labyrinthine configuration dialog, but pvAuthor’s default settings seem perfectly adequate for cutting down on file-size but not sacrificing video quality. We were slightly disappointed by the lack of support for various file-types; pvAuthor only claims to support MPEG and AVI files, but the AVI movies we tried to open were rejected. Support for other video types (such as the increasingly popular MOV format) would be a welcome addition to pvAuthor.
pvAuthor is useful tool for users who are aiming to convert MPEG movies or videos to fit the screens (and memory cards) of their mobile phones. The video quality it produces is of high quality but the program is somewhat let down by the complexity of its configuration dialog and lack of support for popular video formats.