Monday, August 31, 2009

Review: SmartMovie by Lonely Cat Games – the best AVI/DivX/XviD Player for your Nokia N97 (and 5800/5530)

SmartMovie by Lonely Cat Games is a video player application for S60 (and other platforms) that allows you to play MP4V, FLV and 3GP videos.

I’ve been a big fan of SmartMovie ever since I got my 7610. When most phones out there couldn’t even play a video, SmartMovie was playing back music videos and TV shows.

You may have several videos stored in AVI format (.xvid/.divx/.avi), be it your home movies or backed up DVDs*. For S60 5th Edition Nokia handsets, like the 5800, 5530 and N97, there is currently only one solution to play your AVI videos on your phone. SmartMovie. The other S60 alternatives, DivX player nor Core Player do not work on S60 5th edition either properly/at all. DivX Player is jerky, does not work with touch and options are limited because it requires softkeys. Core Player is incompatible with S60 5th edition, (I would have tried it out but they have no try and buy).

n97 b

You can try out SmartMovie at After downloading, be sure to install the “3rd edition” version – it works on S60 5th too.

Stick around as the Lonely Cat Games team have agreed to give away 5 licences** for the Full SmartMovie after this review to you guys.

The review will cover SmartMovie’s:

  1. Optimized Touch Controls
  2. Qwerty Keyboard Shortcuts
  3. Playback (TV out)
  4. Converter
  5. Settings
  6. Compatible Files
  7. Choosing Video Folders

Video demo part to be updated later.

(Sorry about the length of the review – it got longer than I had anticipated.)

1. Optimized Touch Interface


On S60, you can operate SmartMovie completely either by touch (as in 5800, 5530) or entirely by hardware keys (e.g. N86, N85, N82 etc.) On the N97, you’ve got the option for both which gives you the best overall experience.

SmartMovie works in portrait though landscape view is the best for viewing video (it’s nice that the option is still there).

Videos appear as a 2×3 row of thumbnails (when in landscape) or 4×2 when in portrait.



Under each thumbnail is the title (including file type), video length and the video’s size. When you hover over (tap) a thumbnail, you get a slide show of scenes from the video and titles that were too long scroll across. Much better than simply either a list of video files or just random thumbnails.

Something quite surprising is that SmartMovie has kinetic scrolling. It really helps to get through a long library of videos (and it’s simply nicer to flick than do drag when scrolling).

This next feature is very nice indeed. When you long press over a video thumbnail, a really cool circle expands around your finger giving you the option to delete, rename, play or view the file details. If you tap outside the circle, it disappears.

A bit like the first time you “slide to unlock the iPhone” or experience Gravity’s flawless kinetic scrolling, I just had to keep pressing around to just watch this bubble of options grow around my finger. Very intuitive way to display some quick options.

Another nice touch (no pun intended) is how the colour scheme matches your theme, even the animated bars that run behind your video list.

Nseries 1 Theme
Nseries 2 Theme
Nseries 3 Theme
ShazamiD theme

To play a video, just double tap it. Though the whole one tap, double tap thing may be an issue for some, it kind of makes sense because single tap allows the slide-show of scenes from the video.

(Screencap at medium quality)

To access the basic controls (time line and volume) just tap somewhere on the screen.


When you drag the time line, a “picture in picture” window appears that shows a snapshot the precise scene you’ve dragged to. In longer videos that weren’t converted by the SmartMovie Converter, scrolling back gets more difficult.


Alternatively, instead of dragging you can just tap on a position in the timeline. Again, tapping backwards doesn’t seem to work that well for longer videos that are unconverted.

Double tapping pauses the video and brings up the settings. As you’ll see later, there are three setting views. Below is the touch screen version during playback.


You can exit by clicking files. When you exit SmartMovie, restarting it opens that video back to where you left it.

You can also access settings via the menu. This is the second view of settings.



By default, the time line and time remaining are always visible. But you can hide these if you want (I do because it looks nicer hidden and my mind tries to work out how it could end given the amount of time remaining >_<)


Screencap at high quality. Very sharp picture.

2. QWERTY Keyboard Controls:

Utilising the QWERTY keyboard for shortcuts has been an annoying scarcity on the N97, with few apps taking advantage of the keys.

Not for SmartMovie. The D-Pad allows for the basic player controls, whilst other QWERTY keys have been specifically chosen so you can easily access settings whilst a video is playing (not possible via touch). This is particularly useful when adjusting the audio sync, as you can immediately see how you’re affecting the audio and can quickly alter get it synced up.

The first time I used SmartMovie, the key short cuts were simply corresponding to the generic keypad. i.e. 1 and 4 were A/V settings (I think, I may be wrong) But for some reason, though it’s the same 4.15 version, they short cuts seem to have been specifically adapted for a QWERTY keyboard.

Full set of controls are as follows:

Smart Movie N97

When using QWERTY controls, indication status pops up for a second then fades away, e.g.

  • as you press “G” you’ll see “Brightness: 100%, Brightness:110%” etc going up in the top left of the screen


  • as you press “V” (directly beneath G) you’ll see “Brightness: 100%, 90%” going down in “ “
  • zoom notifications (if available) appear in the bottom left

The “intelligent zooming” is a particularly nice function. If your video isn’t already 16:9, 640×360, pressing “Z” lets you zoom in to fill the screen as much as possible. The number of steps and the amount you can zoom up to depends on the file.






It even works when you’ve got a 16:9 video encased in a 4:3 frame (we’ll see this in the Playback section)

Suggestion: Additional extra shortcut keys I would like to see:

  • to exit the video/smartmovie and them resume playback (only possible via touch)
  • show/hide time
  • in 3rd edition, pressing 9 goes through frame by frame each time you pause, holding makes it play is slow-mo. <

3. Playback –


DivX DVD backups played by SmartMovie look absolutely fantastic on the N97’s screen. Before, the only way I could get my video-fix on the N97 was via BBC iPlayer (and video quality was quite good – but of course, only BBC content). SmartMovie really shows of how stunning the screen is; absolutely crisp pictures. As you’ll see later, you can adjust contrast/brightness/saturation within the player to further enhance your viewing.


Photos By N82 (doesn’t do the vividness and sharpness of the picture justice)


The frame rate/smoothness of playback is entirely dependent on how the video was originally encoded. Videos converted by the SmartMovie converter always playback fluidly, even at the fastest action scenes.

As long as your videos are already not too high in either resolution (i.e. not HD) or bitrate, you won’t need to convert them to play them with SmartMovie.

SmartMovie on the N97 handles my AVI library fine, although some action parts do slow down noticably. I’m not sure if there’s much hope in future SmartMovie software updates or if it’s just the limitations of the N97. On S60 3rd edition, overall SmartMovie plays at higher frame rates – (display is only 320×240) though it also slows down slightly in faster scenes.

Though also dependent on the source, sound quality is excellent, and the volume is astonishingly high. You can fix any audio-sync issues (either due to the file itself or an artifact caused by the N97) really easily.

The audio is best heard through headphones – either wired or via Bluetooth.


You’re going to need a CA-75U cable for this (not supplied with N97 but you may have one if you own other Nokia other models)22082009139

[demo in beginning of video]

The TV-out cable and SmartMovie adds another dimension to the N97, transforming it into ultraportable “DVD player” – no additional power source required (there’s enough battery life for at least a couple of films). Even more reason to love that SmartMovie handles my DivX catalogue well.

The TV-out resolution is 640×480, although most of the time, you’ll only see 640×360 (to match your screen). So 700MB film looks great on the big screen.

It’s not exactly the same as watching it directly from the 700mb source (i.e. not via a phone as you’ll experience dips in frame rate at faster scenes) but it’s good enough, and has wowed enough of my friends/family when they seen the TV playing a videos from my phone.

4. Converter.

If you do need to use the Converter for whatever reason, the SmartMovie converter is a very good one as it’s optimized for phones.

Just drag and drop a video, choose the phone model, convert and you’re done.

SmartMovie Converter

By default, the converter is set to 320×180, 112kbps, audio at 40kbps and in mono (XviD encoder). You can increase settings, but based on videos I’ve converted, the default 320×180 is somehow still better than 640×360 (it turns quite pixelated for some reason. You may want to increase the audio to stereo to take advantage of the N97’s stereo output via ispeakers/headphones (and also bitrate to 128kbps/Frequency to 44K whilst you’re at it).

It’s surprisingly not bad on the N97’s screen,quite comparable to BBC iPlayer quality

Converted, default 320×180

There are random blips of big pixelation/blockiness, but they aren’t that frequent.




Overall, it’s pretty good considering how small the file is (110MB) and is good enough for viewing on a phone (though not really if you use TV-OUT).

Conversion speeds depend on the original file, the resolution you’ll convert to and your computer. On average, to convert a 700mb/140minute movie it’ll take about:

      • 10-15 minutes to 320×180 – <
      • 20-35 minutes to 640×360 – <<>
      • 25-30 minutes via DivX encoder (320×180) <<>
      • 40-50 minutes via DivX encoder (640×360) <<>

“Back in the day” the main reason I’d use the SmartMovie converter was to shrink file sizes. When a 512MB card was considered a lot of memory on a phone, you simply had to be efficient with conversion. But with nowadays you don’t really have to (especially on devices like the N97 with oodles of memory to spare)

5. Settings

SmartMovie has an extensive array of settings accessible from the menu or during playback.

Configuration Settings


Pressing C brings QWERTY optimised settingsMNBx000073
Settings view via double tapping during playback

Settings via menu.

Note: Hardware A/V sync changes all videos A/V sync. However, when you change A/V sync within video playback (e.g. wth “k” and “m” keys,) only that video alters their A/V sync, and SmartMovie remembers you’ve settings so you won’t have to repeat it. Changing Brightness/Contrast/Saturation changes it for every video.


Portrait view, 3 screenshots. All of settings are visible (no scrolling), but obviously isn’t best for watching video. Either it’s small or zoomed up that big chunks left and right are missing. But it’s very nice to have the option nonetheless.
Program Updates makes sure SmartMovie gets the latest stability fixes and new features, and it’s very easy to do it from within the SmartMovie app.


6. Compatible files

SmartMovie used to be just for AVI (.avi/.divx/.xvid) – the popular format for long videos as your files can be shrunken down but retain their quality. Though dependent on a number of factors, e.g. resolution, your standard DVD backup (around 640×360, 128kbs says Windows) of a 145 minute movie is only around 700MB. That means you can store 100 hours of DVD footage or 42 feature films on the N97’s internal memory alone, and still more to go with the memory card.

You may already have a collection of videos in DivX/.Avi format, be it backed up DVDs or camera footage saved in that format, so it’s a huge convenience NOT having to convert them to play them on your phone if you’ve got SmartMovie

SmartMovie plays .flv files – as found when downloading from flash video sites such as YouTube. Although the N97 can play .flv natively, it doesn’t treat it as a video file. You cannot rewind/fast forward, nor do you have smartmovie’s intelligent zoom. SmartMovie can minimize the black bars you’d see when you have videos that aren’t 16:9. Sometimes on YouTube, you’d have a video that was 16:9 but it’s encased in a 4:3 frame (i.e. double the black bars). SmartMovie zooms in to the center to give full screen viewing.

Flash video directly from youtube. No conversion. SmartMovie treats it perfectly as a video file. Original file is 4:3 with a 16:9 video in the middle


SmartMovie zooms in correctly to the 16:9 portion hidden in the 4:3 video

That covers practically all the bases of videos file types I’d ever want to transfer to my phone. SmartMovie also plays .mp4 extensions though at the moment, it doesn’t like the H.263 variety that your N97 records in – result is stuttering video.

.wav is also recognized.

7. Choosing video folders.

By default, SmartMovie scans your phone memory/massmemory/memory card. With all those recognizable files, your library is going to be swamped and a bit difficult to manage.

Note size of scroll bar: Camera folders (for videos) recognized too

Since the 4.15 update, you can specify which particular folder in each memory bay to use.

I’ve created a SmartMovie folder in the mass memory’s Video folder. (You can do this on the N97’s file manager, or on your computers file browser)

To show videos only from that folder, go to Tools>Configuration>Video Folders, E>Videos>Smart Movie.



It’s a lot easier to do this with the N97’s D-pad. Centre button selects the folder whilst Left/Right are used to navigate. With touch, you have to press the tiny +/- to move around folders.

You can organize it even further, i.e.. within SmartMovie, I’ve created a folder for Movies and one for shorter clips.


As well as being useful, folder selection is somewhat of a necessity to do, because currently SmartMovie is prone to crash when you autorotate after having tons of N97 recorded videos being recognized. It doesn't always happen, but it stops happening if you do folder selections

Suggestion: In future updates, it would be nice to see folder selection feature more prominent/accessible instead of packed away within settings. Perhaps within the video menu view, have an option to view certain folders. e.g. clicking an icon lets me see the youtube clips you the youtube folder, clicking it again hides. it.

Finally, from the menu, you can arrange the order that your videos are shown.



N97 A

For the N97 with its 3.5″ 16:9 nHD screen, 29.8GB memory plus more with expandable storage, QWERTY keyboard and TV-out – it was always screaming to be your portable video player. Until I rediscovered SmartMovie, I thought the only way I’d be getting any of the videos I want to watch on my phone is via BBC iPlayer or converting videos AGAIN to something the N97 could handle. With SmartMovie, I’m not limited to either options.

SmartMovie is a fantastic AVI/DivX/XviD video player, as well as handling FLV and 3GP.But as well as being capable of playing a wider selection of video formats, SmartMovie has a great UI to match – with brilliant touch and QWERTY keyboard customizations on the N97. There’s also a neat video converter included, though I’ve not needed to use that yet as it plays my video library quite well.

It would be nice if it was a frame rate or three faster at times (for higher resolution DVD backups – never an issue with converted files – which btw still don’t work on DivX player) – I’m not sure if that’s the N97’s limitations in software/hardware or something a future SmartMovie upgrade could do. I mean, DivX player is extremely similar to SmartMovie (in 3rd edition)and it’s inability to play AVI videos properly led me to assume neither would SmartMovie. I’m glad I was wrong.


  • It actually works with touch AND hardware keys (DivX Player)
  • Playsback .divx/.avi/.flv/.mp4 (except native N97 video) quite smoothly.
  • Great UI,
    • Displaying videos as animated slideshows, with scrolling thumbnails is pretty slick. Much better than having just thumbnails or just a list of video files.
    • Touch optimizations are very nice – kinetic scrolling and the settings bubble that grows around your finger when long pressing
    • Picture in Picture thumbnail when seeking through a video
    • “Intelligent Zooming”
  • Great QWERTY short cuts
    • Not only is it nice to have shortcut keys to quickly adjust settings, it’s great that they’ve been located specifically for a QWERTY keyboard, i.e. specific controls are adjacent to each other – brightness +/-
  • You’ve got a video converter included


  • Price

Though it’s among the higher priced applications at 21.99EUR (around 30USD/19GBP – same as CorePlayer) it’s not difficult to see that it’s actually a worthwhile purchase considering how much use it will add to your N97 (or applicable phone)

You can try out SmartMovie at After downloading, be sure to install the “3rd edition” version – it works on S60 5th too.

Licences for SmartMovie are transferable 3 times during 2 years after purchase.

Nokia N900 Technical Specifications

Some beastly specifications coming from the N900, for around 500EUR/440GBP/712USD unsubsidized.There’ll definitely be some good UK contract deals if it starts unsubsidized 440GBP.

My only complaints right now is the battery (1320mAh, not 1500mAh) and of course, no Xenon. But apart from that, what a power house! 1GB RAM (256 physical, 768 Virtual) OMAP 3430 ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz, OpenGL ES 2.0 – Extreme multitasking of even the most resource intensive of apps?

Some neat little features too with DLNA, Digital Stereo Audio RECORDING, Full Screen viewfinder for both 5MP camera and video – which is at 848 × 480 pixels (WVGA) videos at 25FPS – I’m guessing lower VGA res at 30FPS. No mention of the gesture areas/shortcut buttons seen in the hands on video.


Nokia N900 Technical Specifications


  • 3.5 inch touch-sensitive widescreen display
  • 800 × 480 pixel resolution

Processor and 3D accelerator

  • TI OMAP 3430: ARM Cortex-A8 600 MHz
  • PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support


  • Up to 1GB of application memory (256 MB RAM, 768 MB virtual memory)


  • 3.5mm AV connector
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable
  • Micro-USB connector, High-Speed USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth v2.1 including support for stereo headsets
  • Integrated FM transmitter
  • Integrated GPS with A-GPS

Mass Memory

  • 32 GB internal storage
  • Store up to 7000 MP3 songs or 40 hours of high-quality video
  • Up to 16 GB of additional storage with an external microSD card

Keys and Input

  • Full QWERTY tactile keyboard
  • Full QWERTY onscreen keyboard


  • 5 megapixel camera (2584 × 1938 pixels)
  • Image formats: JPEG
  • CMOS sensor, Carl Zeiss optics, Tessar lens
  • 3 × digital zoom
  • Autofocus with assist light and two-stage capture key
  • Dual LED flash
  • Full-screen viewfinder
  • Photo editor on device
  • TV out (PAL/NTSC) with Nokia Video Connectivity Cable (CA-75U, included in box) or WLAN/UPnP
  • Landscape (horizontal) orientation
  • Capture modes: Automatic, portrait, video, macro, landscape, action


  • Wide aspect ratio 16:9 (WVGA)
  • Video recording file format: .mp4; codec: MPEG-4
  • Video recording at up to 848 × 480 pixels (WVGA) and up to 25fps
  • Video playback file formats: .mp4, .avi, .wmv, .3gp; codecs: H.264, MPEG-4, Xvid, WMV, H.263

Music and Audio Playback

  • Maemo media player
  • Music playback file formats: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • Built-in FM transmitter
  • Ring tones: .wav, .mp3, .AAC, .eAAC, .wma, .m4a
  • Digital stereo microphone
  • DLNA

Size and Weight

  • Volume: Approx 113cc
  • Dimensions: 110.9 × 59.8 × 18 (19.55 at thickest part) mm
  • Weight: Approx 181g

Box Contents

  • Nokia N900
  • Nokia Battery (BL-5J)
  • Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-10)
  • Nokia Stereo Headset (WH-205)
  • Video out cable (CA-75U)
  • Nokia charger adaptor (CA-146C)
  • Cleaning cloth

Email and Messaging

  • Supported protocols: Mail for Exchange, IMAP, POP3, SMTP
  • Support for email attachments
  • Support for rich HTML
  • SMS and Instant Messages as conversations
  • Support for Nokia Messaging service
  • Instant messaging and presence enhanced contacts
  • Multiple number, email and Instant Messaging details per contact, contacts with images
  • Support for assigning images to contacts

Web Browsing

  • Maemo browser powered by Mozilla technology
  • Adobe Flash™ 9.4 support
  • Full screen browsing

Operating Frequency

  • Quad-band GSM EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • WCDMA 900/1700/2100 MHz

Data Network

  • GPRS class A, multislot class 32, maximum speed 107/64.2 kbps (DL/UL) EDGE class A, multislot class 32, maximum speed 296/177.6 kbps (DL/UL) WCDMA 900/1700/2100.
  • Maximum speed PS 384/384 kbps (DL/UL) HSPA 900/1700/2100. Maximum speed PS 10/2 Mbps (DL/UL) WLAN IEEE 802.11b/g

GPS and Navigation

  • Integrated GPS, Assisted-GPS, and Cell-based receivers
  • Pre-loaded Ovi Maps application
  • Automatic geotagging


  • Background pictures
  • Widgets on your desktops
  • Intelligent contact shortcuts
  • Shortcuts to your favourite websites
  • Shortcuts to applications
  • Themes


  • BL-5J 1320mAh


  • Black

Box Contents

  • Nokia N900
  • Nokia Battery (BL-5J)
  • Nokia High Efficiency Charger (AC-10)
  • Nokia Stereo Headset (WH-205)
  • Video out cable (CA-75U)
  • Nokia charger adaptor (CA-146C)
  • Cleaning cloth


10 Ways to Improve the Nokia N97

The N97: Still some room for improvement.

The N97: Still some room for improvement.

How would you improve Nokia’s N97 smartphone? That’s the question of the day. My answers inside!

1. Prioritize the user experience over everything else. If that means throwing in a faster processor so the phone doesn’t lag when scrolling, so be it. But this could also be something simpler, like masking loading times with animations. A $750 phone shouldn’t feel slow or choppy.

2. Get rid of the directional keypad and make the QWERTY keyboard bigger and better.

No one is going to be playing N-Gage games on the N97. The directional keypad is way, way too close to the edge of the phone, making it difficult to use it effectively. It’s just too cramped, and for me, playing a game for more than 2 minutes strained my fingers. And the actual keypad just isn’t made for gaming. Game controllers are made so you can just shift your thumbs over to move Up/Down/Right/Left. Here, you’ve got to move your thumb around thanks to that (pretty useless) center button.

Removing the keypad would allow for a full QWERTY keyboard, with larger keys in the correct places. That means the Space Bar in the middle, the ZXCV row underneath the ASDF keys, Shift keys on both sides, etc.

Also, consistent tactile feedback would be great, too. Right now every N97 I’ve used has some very nice-feeling keys (anything in the second row, for example), and some really squishy ones (bottom row – ugh). I find myself having constant issues wondering whether I pressed or didn’t press a certain squishy key.

3. Fix the lock key. Once and for all. I seriously cannot believe how buggy the lock key is, and how Nokia hasn’t been able to fix this.

4. Move the Menu key somewhere else.
I personally can’t stand the location of the menu key (so much so that I’ve even remapped the camera key to act as a Menu key, more on this in a later post). It’s in a lousy spot that’s just not finger friendly to one-handers. Maybe this is a little revolutionary, but how about putting the Menu key on one of the sides, a la Lock key or Volume keys? It might not look as elegant, but it’d be a hell of a lot more functional.

5. Throw in a better email client. Preferably one that actually works (contrary to my experience with the onboard email client). Nokia’s own alternative, Nokia Messaging, is just far too slow to be practically used in a serious mailbox. My not-so-serious mailbox that’s filled with less than 100 emails lags like crazy when scrolling or opening up individual emails. We need a responsive email client, and we need it now!

6. Make the keyboard functional in more places, instead of just the Music Player.

There’s a lot of instances on the N97 when the keyboard just isn’t used or used to its fullest potential. Some examples are the Home screen, where the phone simply ignores all keys except those reserved for dialing, and the browser, where the keyboard is also summarily useless. The fixes aren’t difficult. At the Home screen, just default to contacts search (or the add a new contact menu). As for the browser, the keyboard should open up the Go To box and allow you to quickly enter URLs.

The funny thing is that S60 Third Edition phones with keyboards (ie. E75) do a great job integrating the keyboard into the phone experience. Why can’t the Fifth Ed.phones do the same?

Finally, I’d also love to see keyboard shortcuts for applications.

7. Put the 5800 XpressMusic speakers on the N97.
The 5800XM’s stereo speakers were, quite simply put, awesome. The N97’s, on the other hand, kinda suck. They certainly sound puny and tinny by comparison.

8. Move the audio jack. The jack is centered on the top of the phone. This is a really lousy spot because having something plugged in there directly interferes with using the phone in landscape mode (since people tend to hold the phone by its sides). Somewhere in the top right corner of the phone sounds good to me.

9. Remove (or change) the camera key.
I find myself constantly hitting the Camera shortcut key by mistake, usually when attempting one of those finger yoga exercises that I have to go through to press the Menu button. The lens cover automatically opens up the camera application anyway, and you can snap pictures using the touch-screen. A manual touch-focusing feature, similar to that on the Xperia X1, could replace the autofocus. Alternatively, if Nokia allowed me to disable the camera key entirely, I wouldn’t be complaining.

10. Improve the widgets system.
Widgets are small apps that can be added to your Home screen, and they’re an important part of the N97 experience. Yet there’s so little flexibility involved that it’s a wonder that anyone actually uses them. Why am I only allowed to have 2 sets of shortcuts? Why can’t I have widgets in different places, depending on the screen mode? What’s the point of adding a “Hide Content” button? Instead of flicking the screen to hide widgets, how about adding support for multiple “Spaces”, a la OS X? There’s a lot of potential here for some really cool stuff.

How-To: Play DOS Games On Your Nokia N97 [DOSBox]

Run some of the greatest DOS games on your Nokia N97!

Run some of the greatest DOS games on your Nokia N97!

Before there was Windows, there was DOS. A command-line interface with nothing but text, text, and more text. During the ’80s and ’90s, DOS was the OS of choice for gaming. And there were lots of great games.

Flash-forward to today. Thanks to an open-source emulator called DOSBox, you can now run those oldies-but-goodies on your Nokia N97 (or 5800XM, or any other S60 3rd or 5th Edition phone, for that matter). This how-to will get you started installing and running games with DOSBox.

Let’s begin!

The Setup

You’ll need the following:

- DOSBox. Latest version as of this writing: 2009-06-23.
- Custom dosbox.conf and premapper.txt files. Dosbox.conf is a config file, and premapper is a key map file. I’ve zipped them both up for your enjoyment. More on this later.
- DOSBox Binary Dependencies. Required to run the program. Click the “Binary Dependencies” box to show the link.


1. Copy the following files to your N97, in any folder of your choosing. Do not install yet.

- glib.SIS (from Binary Dependencies zip file)
- pips_nokia_1_3_SS.sis (Binary Dependencies)
- SDL-1.2.13-s60-2.3.4_armv5.sisx (Binary Dependencies)
- ssl.SIS (Binary Dependencies)
- stdcpp.SIS (Binary Dependencies)
- stdioserver_s60_1_3_SS.SIS: this may refuse to install. If it doesn’t install, skip this file. (from Binary Dependencies zip file)

- full3/dosbox.sisx: note that this is the full version dosbox, not the slim one. The slim one is for crappier phones. It should be located in the full3 folder in the dosbox zip file.

2. On your E: (Mass Memory) drive, check to see that you have a Data folder. If not, create it. Also, create a Games folder. You can choose to copy games to this folder now or later.

3. Copy the following files to the Data folder in Step 2.

- dosbox.conf
- premapper.txt

4. Install all binary dependencies files first (i.e. the first six files in Step 1). These should install without any prompts.

5. Install dosbox.sisx. I installed it on my Mass Memory drive, but I doubt having it on the phone memory would make any difference.

6. Run DOSBox. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should see something that looks like this (my directory already has games in it, so it’ll probably be different):

DOSBox: Your screen should look similar to this.

Congratulations, you’re done with the first (major) part. You can safely type “exit” to quit.

Key Mapping

Before you go digging around DOSBox, you might want to read a little bit about key mapping, and which buttons do what:

I’ve included my default key map file (premapper.txt). Basically all of the letter keys should function properly, both lowercase and uppercase. The Function key (blue diagonal arrow) does nothing. However, the Sym key is extremely important – it toggles between the normal/letter mode and number/special character mode:

Press Sym to toggle number/special mode, and press it again to return to letter mode. In number mode, the following keys are different:

- The top row of keys will default to their correct number (ie Q will be 1, W will be 2, and P will be 0).
- The Backspace key is now an ESC/escape key. You might need this in certain games to quit.
- The S key is a / or forward slash key.
- The D key is a – or dash key.
- The arrow keys move the mouse cursor, instead of acting as arrow keys.
- The 5-way directional key (the key inside the arrow keys) functions as a left click.
- The Space Bar functions as a right click.
- The H, J, and K buttons are Home, Up, and Page Up, respectively.
- The B, N, and M buttons are Left, Down, and Right, respectively.

I’m still messing around with key mappings, so check back for updated versions. Next thing I’d like to add is a left click on touch in number mode.

Adding Games, Running DOSBox, and Navigating DOS

Next, you’ll need to find some old DOS games. There’s a lot of sites that host this stuff – simply Google “Abandonware” or “dos games” and you should come up with quite a few. Once you’ve gotten hold of some games, copy them to your E:\Games directory. It’s best to create directories for each game, since each game could have tons of little files, and you don’t want to drop everything into one directory.

Now load up DOSBox again. You should see some commands that were automatically entered (see Configuration and Key Mapping section for more), and a listing of the current directory. For now, here’s the basic commands necessary to navigate through DOS: (be sure to enter the command and then hit the enter key afterwards)

cd – switches to the directory you specify in . Without the <> of course.
cd.. – go back to the previous directory
dir – displays a list of files in the current directory
dir .exe or dir .bat – displays a list of files with the exe or bat extension. Works with any other extension also.
– run a file. Only works on executable files such as .exe, .bat, and .com.
exit – quit DOSBox.

Let’s go through an example. I’ve copied a game called “dune” to my Games folder.

C:/> cd dune

This switches to the “dune” directory.

C:\DUNE> dir .exe

This displays all of the executable files in the dune directory. Running the command on my N97, I see that there’s a DUNE2.EXE file. This should be the main executable file.

C:\DUNE> dune2

This runs the executable and loads the game. You don’t need to add the extension.

Not too bad, right? And if you need some game suggestions, here’s a couple that I’ve tried:

- Dune 2 (one of the first RTS games made, a little slow but very playable and still a lot of fun)
- Commander Keen (excellent classic side-scroller game)
- Dark Sun (oldschool RPG, slow but playable)
- Civilization (the original that started it all)


DOSBox includes a dosbox.conf configuration file that you can use to change the options. I’ve made the following changes to the dosbox.conf:

- devicescreenwidth and devicescreenheight is set to match the N97 (640×360)
- mouse sensitivity is 500
- cycles = 3000 (default is 800)
- all sound (pc speaker and sound blaster sound effects) have been turned off to increase frame rate
- upon loading, DOSBox will automatically mount the E:\games drive, read the premapper.txt file in E:\data, go to the E:\games directory, and display all files in that directory

Feel free to change any or all of the above settings to whatever you’d like.

Things to Remember

- E:\games is the default games directory. You can change this in the dosbox.conf file.
- E:\data is the default data directory. Make sure you put the dosbox.conf and premapper.txt files here.
- The config file is set to automatically open up the E:\games folder and display the contents.
- Sound will kill your FPS.
- Changing your s60scale variable will too.

Other Stuff

- You can also apply the same steps to the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic. However, since the 5800XM has no physical keyboard, you’ll have to use a virtual keyboard – read the help files included with DOSBox for more info on this. I don’t have a 5800XM any more, so I can’t test this.
- If you’d like to install DOSBox for other platforms (like Windows or OS X), check out the official DOSBox page.


Well, for the most part the above was figured out by me. Credits, however, do go out to a user named Lorenzo over at the Sourceforge page, who provided a custom key map that I used as a base for my own mapping. And major props to kljc for porting DOSBox to the S60 Fifth Edition platform – if you like what he’s doing, consider donating to the DOSBox project.