Ben10 MP4 Video Watch Review

The only MP4 Video Player that doesn't play MP4's?
The only MP4 Video Player that doesn't play MP4's?

I have just bought a Ben10 MP4 Video watch from Targets sale for $99. In theory this looks like the product I promised to make my son from a video photo frame and an old Ben10 watch surround, so why bother making it? This way it has custom Ben10 animations and everything right!?

First things first. What’s in the box. The box itself says it includes Earphones, USB Cable and CD-ROM. Open it up and guess what, no USB cable. That’s not such a problem though as it’s the micro USB sort that often come with a camera, so I had a couple of those knocking around. STOP THE PRESS – I’ve just found it. It is about 2cm long and part of the strap.

One thing missing from the box…instructions. There are none. That’s right none at all. Not even a brief explanation of the buttons. I guess that might be on the CD, but it is one of those microsize CD’s and I have a slot loading drive on a Mac, so I can’t have a look to find out. So I searched the web and nothing (hence this post) the supplier Canal Toys has a website that is “Under Construction”.

Okay, so I have a few set backs here, but no problems, according to the box it will play “mp4, avi and wmv (software included)”. I can’t get to the software as it’s on the CD, but I have Quicktime Pro, Handbrake and a number of other video converters that will move things over to mp4 and avi just fine.

Plug in the watch, and up comes the disc with no problems. The file system is easy to see so I navigate into the folder and ….the file is smv, not mp4 or any other format.

I had played the video before and found that it looked a bit rough with a very low frame rate but I had put that down to some dodgy encoding but on further investigation it seems that the only thing that will play is this SMV format (which was originally designed for the Super Nintendo to give you an idea of quality). Hmm an MP4 Video Watch that doesn’t play MP4’s!! I have looked for a converter but with no luck for the Mac.

By the way the ‘speakers’ are so quiet that you can’t even hear them well in an almost silent room. Think taking ear phones out of you ears and listening to those.

The next thing I tried was putting mp4’s in there and see if it will read them. I dragged on mp4’s formatted to 160x128px and 15fps (to be safe). Then tried to unmount the watch. It unmounted, then remounted. I tried again and got the same. After multiple attempts I had no choice and just pulled to cord, which corrupted all the data despite having made sure there was no writing going on. Now I have a watch even without the free Ben10 episode included!

At this point the problems have ceased to make the device fun, and have basically crippled it to the point that it is impossible to use and the only thing I can do with it is try to take it back.

I haven’t even mention that while trying to navigate the watch I managed to crash it to a shell script 3 times!

This is a really, really disappointing product. Any Ben10 fan should love it, but instead it doesn’t include what it should do in the box (no printed instructions is unforgivable), it doesn’t work at all with a Mac (no compatibility info on the box), even if it did, the video was poor, audio via the speakers was non existent, and it crashed to a shell prompt 2 or 3 times in the few minutes I played with it.

I haven’t even mentioned the potential legal problems I’m sure the company could get into by calling the product an mp4 video watch when it won’t play mp4 videos!

What is really disappointing is this stuff isn’t that hard and for $100 ($130 rrp) you should get native mp4 support out of the box, and with a decent frame rate.

Note that there seems to be a few versions of this watch about. Others seem to have a 1.3-1.5″ screen. This one was 1.8″.

The product again is the Ben10 MP4 Video Watch officially endorsed and supplied by Canal Toys and bought at Target in Australia in July 2009.

Avoid this like the plague even if your kids beg for it!

Simons Rating 0/5

27 thoughts on “Ben10 MP4 Video Watch Review”

  1. In a follow up to this post, I have just tried to contact Canal Toys again to see if they can send me the windows software at least. The email address on http://www.canaltoys.fr is no longer valid with an autoresponder just bouncing it back. Canaltoys-Asia.com is just a site with a load of Google ads on it.
    What I would like to know is how come a company like Target is buying off a dodgy bunch like this!

  2. hi Simon,
    Have you had any further sucess with this?? My son got this watch for his birthday and is desprate for more vidoes to watch on it. I have been able to download another version of the converter (that atleast allows me to set the correct conversion dimension) but only get sound – no picture. I will keep trying and let you know if I have any success.
    Megan

    1. I managed to get the software they provided off the CD. It wasn’t anything like the software they sad of coarse. I will post it up for you to download. I have to say that I haven’t tried it yet as my son got almost as frustrated with it as I did. I’ll give it a go this weekend though to see what happens. I’ll try to post the result online. I’m sure I’ll be breaking copyright laws but my feeling is the Ben10 franchise owes us big time!

  3. Simon, I have FINALLY gotten some other Ben10 episodes converted to SMV and they work great on my sons video watch. I had to download some Codecs and the latest version of the conversion software. Do you want to let me know your email address and I will send them to you. Megan.

  4. Could you mention which software you ended up using and the other codecs you had to get? That way anyone else reading the post can use the same methods.
    I must admit that my son is a bit over his already. His new love seems to be a spark scooter, which has it’s own issues in Aus at least where NSW has stopped selling it due to potential fire risk.
    If it’s okay with you I’ll send you an email with my email address on just in case posting it will get me hammered with spam!
    Thanks for taking the time to comment too.

  5. Megan,

    Please post the various bits of software required – I, like Simon, have been unable to load the CD or other episodes onto the watch.

    Cheers

  6. I downloaded version 4.1 of the Sigmatel SMV Transcoder. Can’t remember where I got it now, but google it and you’ll find it somewhere. I also had to download a set of codecs and unfortunately I also can’t remember where I found them but google it and you’ll see plenty. You know you have the codecs when you can see the video you are converting in the video screen in the conversion software.
    Sorry, but I’m not that much help am I?
    Now, my son’s video watch in 1.3″ so the settings may be different depending on the screen size but I set the screen setting (above the Size: setting) to full screen (the button on the right). Set the Size to 160×128 and Quality to 128MB/Hr. I didn’ change the audio settings.
    I uploaded to this blog some Ben10 episodes that I converted. Simon – did you try them? Can others also download them?

  7. I have tried them and they work well. They look a bit compressed on the bigger screen (mine is 1.8″) but my son doesn’t notice those things. Sound is better than the one supplied which means you can actually hear it on the supposed speakers!

    I would live to post them up but might have them chasing me if I do. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they sued me after supplying such a dodgy product! However I guess the files may appear elsewhere in the very near future in which case I will link to them!

  8. Hi Simon and others, we just bought a discounted version of the Ben10 MP4 watch, 1.8″ screen for our son. We were stunned to find your website and complaints, as we too feel we have been ripped off, with no manual or instructions in the box. I am thinking about contacting The Consumer Institute here in New Zealand. Have you had any further success in contacting Canal Toys?
    Thanks for your great post.

    1. No, I’m afraid not. They seem to have hidden themselves off in some corner of France and are making every effort not to be contactable. I was thinking of phoning their MD as with a bit of digging I managed to find his name and phone number. I really should as it would be interesting to see what he has to say about this product.

      It could be worth approaching your consumer institute too. Calling it an mp4 watch is at least misleading (as is saying it has speakers in my opinion), and I’m not sure that they are allowed to sell things without instructions either.

  9. hi simon,

    as you will tell by the date this was my sons xmas present and the first thing i tried doing ws uploading the instructions which never worked and then did a google search and come across your blog so any further episodes or links to the sites you mention ould would be greatly appreciated. i am not to technical so alot of what you mention is slightly alien to me.

    Have a nice xmasand best regards

    Ben

  10. Please help. I have had all of the above problems and now lost the 1 episode that was included. My son is devastated. If any can advise how I can download the correct drivers to find more shows, it would be appreciated. The drives on the CD are all gobbly gook and cannot be downloaded. Thanks Elaine

    1. Do you know if the software is still on the watches or is it just the video that has gone missing?

      I messed up the video when I tried to unmount it and couldn’t so I just pulled the cord out! This corrupted the video, but thankfully I had a backup!

      I will post the original video on drop.io for you. The address is http://drop.io/ben10videowatch1.

      Let me know if it the whole thing and I will try to find the watch and upload all the software too.

      I have to say that there have been quite a few people caught by this and it has spurred me on the try to contact the company again. I’ll let you know if I can get hold of them and what the results are. Did you buy yours from Target? If you did and I don’t get any luck with the manufacturer, I might trying going back through them.

  11. Hi again the watch doesn’t even come up on the computer any more when we plug it in. It always brings up itune and that we need to restore the ipod utility. The watch is not an ipod!!!! I think I need the whole software now too.
    Thanks for this yes we got them from Target

    1. Hey Michelle.

      That is a tricky one! I’m sure Apple wouldn’t like that either! I would probably try to make a backup, reformat the watch to MS-DOS (FAT32) then add the software back on to it. I have found our watch and have zipped the system files and folder structure for you. I’ll post those up http://simongriffiths.name/2010/01/02/ben-10-video-watch-system-files/. They should be there by the time you read this.

      I’m not sure what system you have to reformat the watch. On the Mac use Disk utility on the PC I can’t remember what it’s called!

      One thing to note is that you may have inadvertently told Windows to open iTunes as the default action when the Ben10 watch loads. You should be able to shut down iTunes if that’s the case and still see the watch in Windows Explorer. If you right hand mouse click it you might be able to reset this default by looking through the options (I’m guessing here as I only have a netbook windows machine).

      I hope this helps! It’s a bit of a nightmare dealing with these. Thankfully my son went off his very quickly. Tat was $100 wasted, but a lot better than having to constantly fiddle with it as I’m sure your finding! He has an iPod Touch now which is a dream, as there’s no complicated menus, he can play games on it and it has a speaker that you can hear! There is even a Ben10 game on it, although it’s supposed to be rubbish too!

  12. Hi there,

    Can anyone tell me if they have had any sucess putting music on this device, because I am struggling to work it out and my son keeps asking me is it done yet?

    Please help.

    1. I can help you on this one. You need to have your music files as mp3 then just put them in the root directory of the watch. I thought there would be a folder specifically for music, but all you need to do is put them in the same area as the TIME.DAT and SETTINGS.DAT files (the first folder you open to get into the watch). Hope this helps.

      It is worth mentioning that I have the 1.8 inch screen watch. I believe that there has been various versions in the UK which may not be the same. They probably all work in a similar manner though, as I can’t imagine they can buy an older processor than the one they have bought to make these dodgy watches!

      Hope you aren’t too snowed in there! Just spoken to my sister in Nottingham and she says its -6C and snowing! I’m in Brisbane Australia by the way, so its 11.20 at night and about 25C still!

  13. I have just sent an email to a group that I think must be the distributors of this watch here in Australia at least. I won’t put their name in here now just in case they aren’t but for your information the email reads as follows: –

    “Hello,

    Could you tell me if you are the distributors of the Ben10 MP4 Video Watch? I am currently ranked highly in Google for that product having given it the poor review it so deserves. I am looking for the manufacturer and distributors so that they can answer the questions and complaints that are coming into my blog, and at least offer people a refund/place to get instructions/system software should they want it.

    I guess at this point you are wondering why there is such a problem with this, as I’m sure you don’t test each product personally. I guess that the starting point is that the “Ben10 MP4 Video Watch” doesn’t actually play mp4’s, there are no instructions in the box, the supplied CD can’t be used in slot loading CD drives, the software is Windows only (and there is no warning about that on the box), the software doesn’t actually work on the windows machine I tried it on (which means you have to try to find a legitimate conversion program without downloading some malware into your system), the speakers I don’t think can actually be described as speakers, and getting files on and off it is a nightmare (corrupts the system software frequently).

    I hope this sums up the feelings of the readers of my blog. I will publish a copy of this email without showing your address for their comment.

    If this isn’t you please let me know. Unfortunately I am sending this to you as the website for http://www.canaltoys.fr/ has been under construction for at least 6 months, and their email canaltoys@canaltoys.fr does not work either. So my only other hope is to go to the chains that supply these to customers and to ask them to contact the distributors which I guess will force a recall.

    Thanks
    Simon Griffiths
    http://simongriffiths.name/2009/07/29/ben10-mp4-video-watch-review/

  14. Thanks Simon,

    Actually figured it out myself after spending all morning at it.

    I have 1.8 screen watch, and can’t get screen to full screen, any suggestions?

    Weather in Northern Ireland is not too bad, only had a drop of snow one day before xmas, we didn’t have it as bad as England and Scotland.

  15. Hi Simon and others..

    I too have had all the problems with the MP4 player. Though I have one other, how do you turn it on???? Holding down the play button doesnt seem to work and the instructions on the CD don’t help…

    Thank you
    Michelle

    1. On my sons you have to hold down the play button for about 5 seconds. When you release it there is a delay of a few seconds before you see anything happening.
      I guess the only other thing it could be is it needs charging or take it back and get a refund. If you payed the same as me you are almost half way to an iPod Touch (they are often available on Apples refurb store for about $200)! My advise would be to get that and put some Ben10 videos on it to keep the kids happy. When they see the games on there too, they’ll forget about the watch (my 6yo did at least).

  16. Simon and everyone,

    I just bought this watch today for my son at target for $19.98 on special and now know why. Some of your comments ring so true that they are scary. If I had paid full retail for this I would take it back and demand an apology. As it is even for $20 it is a push. Thankyou for the 2 extra videos I found off this site.

  17. Hi Simon,
    I bought the watch a few weeks ago in France, in Belgium you can’t find them. I looked for the producer, Canaltoys, and I found out that it is a company based in China. It’s written on their site that they work together with some organisations in France to make sure their product is good enough for Europe. For the moment, I didn’t have the time to put a little movie on it, but with music it works well. If you have complains, I think you better make contact with Cartoon Network, they gave the opportunity to this firm to create products under their name. I belief Cartoon Network can’t use this kind of publicity. I hope with this information you can do something. As I said before, the one I bought works very well at the moment, so I now will search out if mp4 is playable with this watch, if not, I can always adress a letter to the European organisation of customers. I know, in Belgium you can’t sell things with information with which you can’t work. Then the company has to refund the product.
    I hope the best for everyone who bought this watch, that your problems may be solved.

  18. Hi Simon

    Sorry to say, but I’m not very impressed with this review, as there’s so much that’s simply wrong or missing. To not have found a computer with a CD player to put in the mini CD and not opened it up is a poor effort – especially if you’re going to write a review to try to help people. Didn’t take much effort to copy the ~70Mb of files onto a thumbdrive for later use anywhere.

    The CD contains everything you need. There’s a quite detailed instruction manual on all the functions and specifications, detailing all files types it can play & read. It’s a pdf file so obviously can read it on a Mac.

    It contains video conversion software (Windows) to convert video files to SMV, so with this you can convert WMV / MPEG files to the right format for the watch to play no problem – so no issues with the product description there.

    It also contains software restore / firmware upgrade software (Windows).

    I’ve a Mac – but I run Parallels (VMWare and many other options available) so running the occasional Windows software is no problem. I wouldn’t have expected a simple product like this to have Mac software – but you can do most things you need to on a Mac with the watch.

    One key instruction in the Manual you should have read: “Do not unplug the player during downloading as it may cause damage to the PC and player”

    You would have save yourself a lot of heartache had you simply accessed the CD contents (which says on it “Instruction Manual, Conversion Software, System Restore, Software Restore – in two languages)…

    Well, anyway – I bought for $34 (bargain), and my son is going to love it for his birthday this weekend!

  19. PS

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SigmaTel_Motion_Video

    “SMV allows users to transform common PC video files and watch them on their MP4 players (PMP). SMV is a video format used by SigmaTel or other players based on their chipsets.”

    This page also has a whole host of links to SMV video conversion software.

    Also, just for info:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP4_player

    “The name MP4 player is a marketing term for portable media players that comply with certain standards and formats. The name itself is a misnomer, since most MP4 players are incompatible with the MPEG-4… “

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