Pocket pc graphics look great on the pc but when sent to the pocket pc they are terrible quality?

Posted on 2004-11-26
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Any pocket pc techies out there? I have a Viewsonic v36 running Windows Mobile 2003. I go into photoshop to create theme graphics for it and when I send the theme to the pocket pc it looks like total crap... In the pocket pc theme generator the graphics look fine... There are hundreds of themes downloadable online and all that I try seem to look fine. I'm trying to do a custom theme though and submit it to a theme archive site and I can't do that if every graphic I create looks like dogshit... The graphics look grainy as if someone converted it to a very low quality jpeg or low colored gif. Is there a format that I need to use? What am I missing here?
Question by:TeknoJunrei
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    The problem here TeknoJunrei is not that tricky.
    What you need to to is to first setup both your CRT monitor and you Pentablet screen to use the same
    palette. As you are using Photoshop the whole thing can be resolved quite easy.
    In Adobes Photoshop, there is a tool called Adobe Gamma Loader.
    Run this small .exe file and simply adjust your monitor to desired contrast and brightness.
    Now run the same tool again when you have your Viewsonic attached to ensure you have the same settings.
    There is no specifiy format you should use for themes unless you want to. CMYK is the best format to use if you intend to create professional imagery as you have a separate gamma channel.
    Hope this helps,

    Author Comment

    BjornEricson: Thanks for your reply... Ok I am not sure what it is your referring to but I did try changing to cmyk mode and it looked crappy as ever... I looked around in photoshop for this Gamma Loader and came up empty. I tried looking also in it's program directory... Can you clarify?
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Are you using the latest version of Theme Generator (v2.0)?

    Author Comment

    BjornEricson: Yes that I checked... I am baffled as to why it saves my images so crapped up... it is the latest... I am using Adobe Photoshop CS (which I beleive is v8.0)  by the way and maybe that doesn't have the Adobe Gamma Loader? I am looking in settings for anything that adjusts the palletes...
    LVL 1

    Accepted Solution

    There are some specifics by Richard L. Owens on setting up TBv2 below.  Please see the site reference for full graphics and let me know if this helps.  Good luck.

    "Pocket PC 2002/2003 ThemeBuilder - the theme creator without limits
    Building themes for your Pocket PC 2002/Windows Mobile 2003 PDA is fun, and when I set out to do it I wasn't happy with the available (free) options. Microsoft's free Theme Generator v2.0 has several problems:

        * It always resizes every image to these sizes: 240 pixels x 287 pixels for the Today image (the bottom 19 pixels aren't shown, so add a 19 pixel tall blank bar to the bottom of a 240x268 image if you are using Theme Generator v2), 152 pixels x 287 pixels for the Start Menu image. Because it always resizes the images, it is very difficult to get Theme Generator v2 to not mess-up your image unless you set it to these specific sizes. It also makes it impossible to make themes with larger images, for use with virtual display/rotation systems.
        * The position of the final image in relation to the source defaults to chopping-off the top 1-pixel row and the left-most 1-column, so make sure you click "Modify this Image" then OK after loading images. If you don't, then each image is shifted down-right 1 pixel and it adds a 1-pixel white border on bottom-right sides. Note that "Use the Today image from the previous screen" defaults to shifting one pixel down and to the right (so that the Start image matches the positioning of the Today image), adding a blank 1-pixel line to the bottom (if the source is 268 tall). This is probably where this bug comes from: the positioning defaults to 1 down and 1 to the right.
        * Limited to only 16-bit BMP or 16-bit JPG format. These are, in my opinion, too big and too lossy respectively.
        * Doesn't allow you to change these four colors in all themes: Notification Tray background, Notification icon highlight (when icon is tapped on Notification Tray), Normal Notification title text, and Critical Notification title text
        * Windows Mobile 2003 added six (or seven) new colors which Theme Generator v2 doesn't know about (see picture below): Notes/Tasks/etc file list background colors left1, left2, right1, and right2; Start Menu text; Tap-and-hold dots; and one other color that the MS-supplied theme Spiral.tsk uses but I'm not sure what it is for. If you find out, tell me (remove NOSPAM).

    Because of these problems/limitations with Theme Generator v2.0 from MS, I analyzed the theme TSK format and found out how to make the files myself (or, rather, have MS's program make them for me). It turns out that TSK files are really re-named CAB files, the same as the Windows CE OS uses for program installation. My ThemeBuilder script uses the CAB builder programs (CabWiz and makecab) from Microsoft's Theme Generator v2.0 installation (I hope they don't mind me re-distributing the programs ;-)

    To make your own theme TSK files, you just need the two image files and an .INF configuration file. Feed that all into the CabWiz.exe program and you're done. This is exactly what Theme Generator v2 does, so I just snagged its .INF file and added comments to make it plain what everything is.

    Since theme TSK files are re-named CAB files, if you want to get the pictures out of a TSK just re-name it to CAB and use your favorite un-compressing program, such as my favorite UltimateZip (freeware). The file with "stwater" in the name is the Start Menu image and the file with "tdywater" in the name is the Today image. Their actual format varies (as you can see above: it could be BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, or maybe something else). Just try a few formats until it is openable. The third file (which is ~500 Bytes) is the installation script which has the color entries. I figured-out how to read these, so ask if you really want to know.. (151 KB) is my newer version with the extra entries for Windows Mobile 2003 themes. Note that Pocket 2002 will just ignore the extra entries, so themes are always backwards-compatible. Or, just comment-out the extra values you don't need. (For historical purposes, here's my first version without the WM 2003 extras (171 KB)).

    What To Do After You Get ThemeBuilder:

       1. Make your Today image. For the normal Pocket PC resolution, the size should be 240x268 (no need to add the un-used 19 pixels on the bottom like Theme Generator v2.0 needs), for virtual display/rotation users make it whatever resolution you need (i.e., if you only want to support 240x320 (normal portrait mode) and 320x240 (landscape mode), make your background at least 320x268: 240x268 of it will be displayed in portrait mode and 320x188 of it will show in landscape mode). Use any bit-depth you want. Save as BMP, GIF, JPG, or PNG. Others might also work. Just try. I suggest using PNG, as it uses lossless compression so the picture quality doesn't degrade like it does with JPG. No matter what format you save in, rename the file to "stwater.gif" and place it in the ThemeBuilder folder (i.e., you may have saved "TodayImage.png", rename it to "stwater.gif") You will need to tell Windows to show file extensions, and it will ask you to confirm changing the files extension. Just click OK.
       2. Make your Start image. Size can be any size you want. The maximum dimensions ever displayed are 174x304. Any less than this will be tiled to fill the required area, so if you just want a vertical or horizontal gradient you only need a bar to define it. The included example uses a 10x304 gradient image. Same bit-depth and format rules apply. Rename the file to "tdywater.gif" and place in the ThemeBuilder folder.
       3. Edit the Theme.inf file to set the colors how you want. Right now they are set to the colors of Microsoft's Spiral.tsk Theme, as are the images that came with this .ZIP file. (The "Bliss Defaults.inf" file has the values from the Bliss.tsk file if you want to start with that.)
       4. Run the build.bat file. This will create your new Theme.tsk file (if this file already exists, it will be replaced). Rename this file to what ever you want to name your Theme. (i.e. To recreate Microsoft's Spiral.tsk theme, run make.bat after unzipping this .ZIP file. Then, rename Theme.tsk to Spiral.tsk and you are all done.)

    Virtual Display/Screen Rotation Programs

    Here's all the screen rotating/re-sizing programs I know of. If you find any more, tell me.

        * The Pocketop keyboard driver: free since it is meant to be used with one of their external keyboards, uses an older version of the NYDITOT rotation technology so it currently doesn't support WM2003. Hopefully they will upgrade soon. Rotation only.
        * Rotate330: freeware, only for Toshiba e330 and other MediaQ-based Pocket PC's. Rotation only.
        * GoLandscape! 1.0: freeware, only for HP iPAQ h5450/h5455. Rotation only (I think).
        * GoLandscape 2.0a: US$1.99, only for HP iPAQ h54xx/h55xx, (mostly) supports WM2003. Rotation, Today theme management, and volume-button->scroll up/down mapping (might not work on all devices/WM2003).
        * JS Landscape X: US$9.99, no WM2003 support yet. Rotation and re-sizing support.
        * NYDITOT Virtual Display: US$19.95, now supports WM2003. Rotation, re-sizing, and system appearance customizing.
        * dotPocket: US$30, no WM2003 support. Rotation, re-sizing, and remote-desktop control.

    I created a 640x480 theme to show how they work:

    You can get it here: Plasma Fire 640x480.tsk (167 KB)

    ThemeBuilder consists of freeware instructions by Richard L. Owens (me) and software copyrighted by Microsoft (not me).

    Questions and comments can be posted on the PocketPCPassion thread where ThemeBuilder was born, or emailed to Richard L. Owens (remove NOSPAM).

    -Richard L. Owens (OE1Kenobi, or miss-spelled as OE1Kneobi on PocketPCPassion. Oops.)

    First posted 12-Oct-2003.

    Updated 20-Oct-2003: Added Rotate330/GoLandscape/dotPocket links.

    This page was referenced in an article by Carlo Guerrero on 04-Apr-2004

    Updated 21-May-2004: Fixed a typo. Thanks A. Orrie! This page visited times since 8PM (UTC-7) 04-Apr-2004. It was visited a whole bunch-o-times between then and 12-Oct-2003 when I first posted it (but reset the counter).

    A no-frills page whipped-up in EditPad Lite and MS FrontPage."


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