Monday, 13 June 2011

Playing Videos on the Xoom

I recently took my girlfriend on a weekend away up to Loch Tay. It was to celebrate our 2 year anniversary and she had previously mentioned she would like to go camping. I like the idea of camping, but also kinda like having my phone above 90% charge at all times. Not to mention liking to keep my beers cooled! So we decided to go camping; the premium edition. We stayed in a wooden wigwam. It was a tremendously relaxing weekend which was long overdue given the amount of stress I was going through prior to leaving.

Obviously, a weekend away in the almost outdoors (the indoor heating, fridge/freezer, TV, microwave, kettle and shower qualifies the 'almost' I feel) is a good time to fill up the Xoom with some high quality videos to wile away the hours as the Scottish summer rains down outside! But what a nightmare getting videos to copy onto the Xoom. Read on for the problem and the seemingly bizarre solution.

I plugged the Xoom into my PC, and as normal, it was recognised by the computer. It seems to be both a blessing and a curse that they are designed to show up as portable devices, rather than just external storage drives. Anyways, diving past that from 'Computer', you can access the raw file system which undoubtedly suits some more than others. I located a selection of TV episodes... and by that I mean a selection of Peep Show episodes... that I wanted to take with me.

But they simply failed to copy.

At first I was greeted with a rather menacing "This won't work, idiot" prompt, but cunningly countered with a swiftly executed press on the "Yes I know what you are saying but I am too arrogant to believe you" button. It looked promising at first, with the familiar Windows 7 loading bar popping up, but they would simply stall for a few mins before seemingly timing out and erroring.

Had this been the first time I'd attempted to copy files across, I would have doubtlessly believed the internet and her wise words. (Quite why I'd give the internet a female gender is anyone's guess - and everyone's guess is both equal and correct). I would have believed that the Xoom could simply not playback AVI files. However, I have previously copied videos across and played them without issue, so I was carried on my plight relentlessly.

Having tried just about everything in my arsenal of IT tricks and solutions, gained from a decade plus of tinkering with and basically dissecting computers to get them to do my bidding (up to and including turning both systems both off, and back on again) I was damn near out of options. OK, for the more tech-curious, I did try using an alternative explorer program on the PC (Explorer ++) and even syncing sans USB cable over wifi - worked reasonably well but very slow to move large videos.

Thankfully the last attempt gave me an idea. What if my cable was somehow to blame? I certainly wasn't using the genuine micro USB provided by Motorola. A quick switch of that didn't help though. But it did lead me to the eventual solution. "It did lead me"... geddit? Because... it's a lead... oh never mind.

Plug the USB cable into a different port. I know, crazy right? It is such a ridiculous solution it didn't register as a solution. Well, actually it did, but I moved it along one port - which didn't help. The reason why, and by the way now I'm guessing spitting facts to the max (yeah I can speak street), is that the USB ports on my machine I first tried have a lower power output than the others. Only theory I have. It seems ridiculous that I could browse the file system, and even copy small files (photos copied fine) but wouldn't succeed with larger ones.

So ridiculous that had anyone non-techy suggested it I would have laughed and told everyone. "Hey everyone, guess what this noob said...!!!" and the likes. I would have deserved a punch in the suprapubic (go on, google it, I did!).

There you have it. The Xoom plays AVI files without so much as a sweat! So long as you can transfer them onto it!

By the way, for anyone wondering, MoboPlayer is my choice of Android video players. Additionally, I do not compress/convert the files in any way for the Xoom. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Where, in a really needless kind of way, I've compared my PC to a goose and my tablet to a gander. Extending nicely to my phone I guess, being the gosling. 

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