Essential Multimedia File Types the Second Generation Pioneer MVH-Series Should Support

Waiting for the 2011 Santa, yet, demanding a Pioneer carputer is out of the question, or Susumu Kotani will commit seppuku. There are cheap Chinese brands out there with three generations of archived/discontinued carputers, at the same time Pioneer multimedia head unit users are still arguing why they can’t play videos recorded with their Nokia Nseries smartphone or a downloaded YouTube video on their aftermarket Pioneer headunit—their way of saying an MVH (music video headunit) does not support MP4.

Currently some 40 percent of all cell phone sales in the U.S. are smartphones, and estimates are that number will actually approach 60 percent by 2012. Even more striking is that over 50 percent of car owners in the U.S. are smartphone owners. Regrettably, the global power elite, aka Superclass, including Pioneer, are programmed to be in love with Apple, and to allow only iTards to connect their dumbphones to the head, leaving others even desperate for a sip of A2DP/AVRCP!

The Bluetooth-enabled variations of the next generation MVH (MVH-Px3xxBT, MVH-x3xxBT) should definitely support both A2DP and AVRCP to enable users to transfer and control audio playback over Bluetooth.

Nokia is dead meat, the “soft” in Microsoft is bloated, but I’m happy the real Superclass—Google with its Android—has come to a dogfight with the company that produces screwless incompetent attractive girls for electronic gadgets. It will not take long, and by the demise of CD/DVD, some five to six years from now, consumers will look at smartphone interface availability as a purchase decision when buying a new car, and by 2016, imagine, if you will, how this is going to affect that center console stack between the driver and passenger.

The current approach on how the multimedia decoder has been implemented in the MVH-8200 family is wrong. Shamefully, having CorePlayer installed, a 2007 Nokia N95 is by far a better multimedia hub than an MVH-8250BT.

Of all the electronics used inside the MVH-8250BT, there’s only one chip I like, and that’s the Samsung K4S641632N-LC75 (64MB 133MHz CL3 7.5ns 3.3V LVTTL) SDRAM.  A preprogrammed, restrictive, purpose-built decoding platform—like MVH-P8200’s current Panasonic MN2DS0018MAUB and the NEC microprocessor mated to the Panny—is doing no good. If some come to their senses, what we need here is something like an Nvidia Tegra system-on-a-chip, programmed to decode and play everything multimedia that makes sense. ARM Cortex/PowerVR combination and Qualcomm Snapdragon can be considered for a possible more expensive MVH multimedia hub.

Employing such chips might also promise a high-end RS-series MVH with a Wolfson DAC. For sure, narrow-minded audiophiles would argue that MVHs do not deserve to be produced as “MVX” high-ends. But they’re wrong, in the same way they’re refusing to accept the fact that a compressed 1.5 Mbps stereo DTS stream is a far cry better than a raw 1.4 Mbps stereo PCM stream found on an Audio CD. C’mon, where’s my MVX-P99RS?

Such a pity, with all the reputation and intrinsic potential, Pioneer is chasing ghosts here. Having experienced many different hardware/software platforms since 1992, I personally prefer allegro-tempo Linux-based environments like the new MeeGo (Intel/Nokia) to adagio-playing Java-based platforms like the new one Pioneer engineers have developed for their home multimedia players.

Broader Range of Multimedia File Types Support

Users want their multimedia file collection to work on an MVH—without conversion—and for that reason, here is a list of audio/video file types and container formats needed, sorted based on support priority.

Audio Streams

MP3, WMA, and AAC are currently supported by the 2010 MVH family—including MVH-P8200BT, MVH-P8200, MVH-8200BT, MVH-8200, MVH-8250BT, and MVH-8250. The support is lame, because I can have an audio file in WMA or AAC, but I can’t have an AVI video packed with these sounds. The audio portion of your AVI should restrictively be an MP3. The following is a list of audio stream specifications needed, sorted based on support priority:

  • WAVWaveform Audio File Format: The usual bitstream encoding is the Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM) format. This is essential, because when audio quality matters, this is how a ripped Audio CD is stored on a portable media—uncompressed.
  • FLACFree Lossless Audio Codec: Same purpose as WAV, with the benefit of a 50%–60% compression. Nowadays, younger audiophiles store their collections as FLACs, thanks to the demise of CD.
  • MP2MPEG-1 Audio Layer II or MPEG-2 Audio Layer II: The audio within VCD, DVD, and DVB-S; also a preferred audio track extension, just like the MP3
  • MKAMatroska Audio: Used within Matroska multimedia containers, and also as audio tracks
  • AC-3Dolby Digital: Used both as audio files and as the audio stream within multimedia containers
  • DTSDigital Theater Systems: Used both as high-quality audio files and as the audio stream within high-quality multimedia containers
  • OGGOgg: Used as the audio portion of multimedia containers like MP4 and MKV, or as Ogg Vorbis audio files
  • WMALWindows Media Audio 9 Lossless: Same purpose as WAV and FLAC, with the benefit of smaller file size comparing to FLAC, but not royalty-free. Microsoft Zune HD users tend to store high-quality collections in WMA Lossless, rather than FLAC.
  • MP1MPEG-1 Audio Layer I: Outdated, but would be nice if supported.
  • AMR-NBAdaptive Multi-Rate Narrowband: Mobile telephone handsets can store short audio recordings in the AMR format. It’s also the audio portion of the videos old cameraphones capture in 3GP. These videos are still very popular for their small file size.
Video Streams

DivX Home Theater Profile is the only video format supported by the 2010 MVH family—including MVH-P8200BT, MVH-P8200, MVH-8200BT, MVH-8200, MVH-8250BT, and MVH-8250. The DivX capabilities should expand, to fully support MPEG-4 Part 2 (MPEG-4 Visual) specifications, and the following is a list of video stream specifications needed, sorted based on support priority:

  • H.264MPEG-4 Part 10 aka AVC (Advanced Video Coding): A very popular block-oriented motion-compensation-based codec, used in Blu-ray Discs, HD DVDs, HD satellite broadcasting (DVB-S2), SBTVD, high-quality cameraphones, YouTube HD, iTunes Store, Adobe Flash Player, and Microsoft Silverlight.
  • MKVMatroska Video: A very popular format for small-sized high-quality motion picture collection storage
  • H.262MPEG-2 Part 2 aka MPEG-2 Video: Used in the video portion of DVD Video and also SD satellite broadcasting (DVB-S)
  • H.263: Used in FLV (Flash Video), YouTube, and 3GP videos captured by low-quality camera phones
  • WMVWindows Media Video: Microsoft’s video specifications for the ASF (Advanced Systems Format) container
  • MPEG-1 Part 2 aka MPEG-1 Video: Heavily influenced by H.261, MPEG1 is the video stream used in Video CD DAT files.
  • MP42Microsoft MPEG-4 v2: Microsoft’s video specifications for the AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) container
Container Formats

AVI (Audio Video Interleaved), ASF (Advanced Systems Format) and portions of MPEG container formats are apparently supported by the 2010 MVH family—including MVH-P8200BT, MVH-P8200, MVH-8200BT, MVH-8200, MVH-8250BT, and MVH-8250. The support should expand for the aforementioned containers, so every variation and fork is supported. The following is a list of container formats needed, sorted based on support priority:

  • MP4MPEG-4 Part 14
  • MPEG-PSMPEG Program Stream: Specified in MPEG-1 Part 1 and MPEG-2 Part 1, MPEG-PS is used in VCD and DVD-Video-compliant MPEG-2 videos.
  • VOBVideo Object: Based on the MPEG program stream (MPEG-PS) format, but with additional limitations and specifications in the private streams, VOB is the container format used in DVD Video.
  • MKVMatroska Multimedia Container
  • MPEG-TSMPEG Transport Stream: Specified in MPEG-2 Part 1, MPEG-TS is used in broadcast systems such as DVB and ATSC. According to this, files recorded on satellite receivers are in TS format.
  • FLV—Flash Video
  • MOV/QTQTFF (QuickTime File Format): Extended to MPEG-4 Part 12, MOV is Apple’s multimedia container file format, widely used on iPod Video and by video-recording Canon cameras.
  • 3GP3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project): Extended from MPEG-4 Part 12, this is still widely in use in videos captured by low-quality camera phones.

Of course there are a lot of less popular audio/video formats and specifications not listed above; therefore, a lot of file formats are omitted. But remember, MVHs are not supposed to be carputers, and that’s the reason why they should not support every file your Windows / Mac / Linux systems play. The reason I collected the list is because Pioneer is going to launch their second generation MVH in a few months, and I need to tell them an MVH should play more extensions than say an Nseries Nokia!

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