cell phone

Playing Mobile Device Videos on Your Computer

Question: I emailed myself a video I took from my blackberry curve. When i try to play the video on my computer it says it can't find the file extension. What is the deal?

Answer: The deal is that you either need a program installed on your computer that can play the video file, or a program that will convert it to a common video format like Quicktime or Windows Media.

I'll cover both approaches, and will introduce you to some free and low-cost programs that'll handle the video viewing and converting. I'll also show you how to convert Quicktime or Windows Media videos into a format that can be viewed on a Blackberry, iPhone, or virtually any mobile device that supports video.

Video Players

Most computers come with some form of a video player, such as Windows Media Player that plays video files with a .wmv extension. You can also get the Quicktime video player for free from Apple that plays .mp4 video files.

However, videos that are recorded from a mobile device will usually have a different file extension, such as .3GP for movies recorded on Motorola RAZR phones. These videos won't play in Quicktime or Windows Media.

You'll need a video player designed to read the video format that your specific mobile device uses, or better yet - one that can play a wide range of video formats so that you'll still be in luck if you switch phones in the future.

Rather then look for a universal video file player, look for a video file converter. Not only will you get the ability to view all kinds of video files, but you'll be able to convert them to be viewable on other devices or other computer systems like a Macintosh. Two for the price of one.

Video Converters

Cell phone screen is broken - how do I transfer pictures?

Question: I need to move some pictures from my phone to my PC. I have a usb cable, but I can't see the screen on my phone. AT&T sent me a new phone but need pictures off the old phone. Can you help me with this?

Answer: You can still transfer pictures from your cell phone to your computer if the screen is broken, by using your usb data cable and driver software to handle the transfer (which doesn't rely on your phone menus or screen).

The usb cable will connect your phone to your PC, and the driver software will show you a list of all the files on your phone. That includes photos, ring tones, contacts, and videos (if your phone plays videos).

Here's what you'll need to do:

1. Turn your cell phone on and connect it to your computer.

Any USB data cable that fits the standard USB port on your phone and your computer will work, so there's no need to go buy an expensive cable. It will also charge your phone while it's connected.

2. Start up the driver software that came with the USB cable.

If no software came with your USB data cable, then you'll need to purchase that separately, since Windows needs the right drivers in order to recognize your phone.

A couple programs I've tried and recommend are DataPilot and also Ringtone Media from Avanquest (handles picture transfers and ringtone creation/transfer).

Both of these works with all major phone types and will show you a list of folders on your phone containing photos, music (ring tones), contacts, and videos (if your phone supports video).

How to Connect to the Internet using a Tethered Cell Phone

Question: "My cell phone lets me browse the web, so it seems I should be able to use that connection from my laptop. Is there a way to connect my laptop to the Internet using my cell phone?"

Answer: Yes, you can use your cell phone's internet connection to browse the web on your laptop, by connecting your cell phone to your laptop with a USB data cable and software that handles the connection(also known as "tethering").

What you'll need

  • A web-enabled cell phone with a data plan. If you can browse the web on your cell phone, then it's web-enabled, but you still need to have a data plan with your wireless service provider (e.g. AT&T) in order to use your cell phone as a tethered laptop modem.
  • A USB data cable or a Bluetooth adapter. You'll use the USB data cable to connect/tether your cell phone to your computer, or the Bluetooth adapter to connect without any wires.
  • Tethering software programs like DataConnect or Mobile PhoneTools Bluetooth that use your cell phone as a modem.

Tethering your cell phone to your laptop

  1. Connect your web-enabled cell phone to your laptop
  2. If you're using a USB data cable, then you'll plug your phone into your laptop which will also charge your phone's battery while it's connected.



    If your phone is Bluetooth-enabled - and most new phones are - then you can connect your phone without any wires by pairing it with your laptop.

    For Motorola phones, open the phone and select the following menu options:

    Menu --> Settings --> Connection --> Bluetooth Link --> Setup --> Power

How to transfer photos with a pay-as-you-go phone

Question: My wife and I are pay-as-you-go T-Mobile customers who have just found that the Razr V3 phones give us most of what we're looking for; however in trying to "rescue" some photos off our old phones to bring some shots we valued over to the new ones, I was told that we couldn't email the photos from our computer back to our new phones without signing up for some other service that our pay-as-you-go accounts didn't at this point provide.

Can you explain to me what they're talking about? (PS. I was able to save our old phone photos by putting our sim cards back into our old phones-one at a time-and sending the photos to each other's new phones, then swapping them with each other's new phones).

Answer: The service they're referring to is probably a data plan, which is what I also am required to have in order to email pictures with my AT&T plan. Transferring photos can be expensive though, with rates often running at 10 cents per kb of file size (meaning that even a small 100kb picture would cost you a dollar each time you transfer it).

An easier and free (well, free aside from the software) way to transfer pictures between a Razr phone and your computer is to use Motorola's PhoneTools software to transfer them using a USB data cable.

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