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Finding and Importing Videos on your iPod
January 10, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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Apple has introduced several varieties of the iPod which support video content. If most computer users owned Macs, video conversion wouldn’t be much of an issue. However, since the opposite is true, PC owners typically find it difficult to add video files to their iPod. How on Earth do I add my DVD collection to my iPod? Why can’t I just click and drag? Can I bypass this conversion process and use an iPod video repository? We’ll look at these questions and much more...

iPod Video is a Pain

The iPod has gained a level of ubiquity rarely achieved in the consumer electronics world. While Mac users generally consider the iPod the second coming of Christ, PC users are slightly more reserved. Yes, the iPod is a magnificent piece of engineering, save for one glaring deficiency – file compatibility. At the peril of PC owners, the iPod is only compatible with H.264/MPEG-4 video format. Yet this isn’t so much a deficiency as it is a necessity. The H.264/MPEG-4 (*.mp4) format allows for significant compression without sacrificing a tremendous amount of quality. And considering that the iPod Nano has a screen resolution of 320x240 pixels, the video format provides stunning quality for such a small screen. So impressive is the video quality that it has generated a massive demand for iPod-compatible video content.

Unfortunately, not too many individuals have their video collection already encoded into the MP4 format. Additionally, DVDs don‘t come in this convenient format either. Luckily, there are plenty of software solutions to this dilemma. One in particular caught our attention, called Videora. For the purposes of this article, we’ll concentrate on the two common video types people have access to – video files (such as AVI) and DVDs.

Converting Different File Types

Let’s take our two types of common video sources, DVDs and video files, and throw them at Videora. In order to convert a DVD to an iPod compatible format, Videora requires the DVD to be ripped. Fortunately for the end user unfamiliar with DVD ripping, Videora has extensive documentation on how to accomplish this with DVD Decrypter. Videora is not compatible with the ISO file format, so if you already have a collection of ripped DVDs in ISO format, you’ll need ISOBuster to extract the VOB files.

But here’s the really good part about Videora – it’s compatible with just about all relevant file types. Videora can convert AVI, MPG, WMV, VOB, Quick Time, and MKV files. MKV (Matroska) files are increasingly important in recent months, as they are becoming the de facto standard for High Definition content in file-sharing circles.

When we put Videora to the test, we were impressed with how quickly the application produced an iPod compatible file. A 150 megabyte file was converted in 10 minutes, while a 650 megabyte XviD file was converted within 30 minutes. A DVD (between 2 and 4.9 gigabytes) would likely take about an hour, depending on the CPU’s processing speed. These speeds can be manipulated by varying the quality output of the file. Considering the iPod Nano’s relatively small viewing screen, decreasing the quality to save time didn’t yield any appreciable loss in quality.

It's important to note that if you have refused to install iTunes, Videora will inform you it couldn't import the converted file to iTunes. This has no impact on the conversion process or converted file. Simply open the output folder and drag the file to your iPod file manager (such as WinAmp.)

Resources for iPod Videos

It’s all good and well to be impressed with the speed of Videora when you’ve got a dual core machine at your disposal. However, not everyone has that benefit. In fact, for many the conversion process can be downright painful, causing one’s computer to arduously trudge through the daunting task. Fortunately for the iPod faithful, the conversion process has already been taken care of for an overwhelming number of video files.

As with anything that deals with online content, the user is faced with two choices – authorized or unauthorized. Interestingly enough, the most prolific sources of iPod content contain both varieties. These sources are Usenet and BitTorrent. There’s also iTunes, which sells TV and movie content. The only way to purchase these files is by installing the iTunes application.

BitTorrent has gathered an impressive reputation as a legitimate distribution avenue. It’s also become a rather decent avenue to trade already converted iPod videos. Torrent indexing sites such as PodTropolis.com have become primary sources for trading video files. But overall, iPod videos distributed over BitTorrent remains a rather minor player, although it’s decent enough for casual trading.

Conversely, Usenet has become a one stop location for iPod videos. Like many things related to file-sharing, Usenet's resourcefulness often times beats BitTorrent, depending on the end user's focus. This fact has translated well into the iPod video genre. For example, the Usenet indexing site Newzbin has two subsections dedicated to iPod videos – one for TV shows, and the other for movies. It’s hard to navigate these two sections and not find something of interest. And fortunately for the end users, the files have already been converted.

For those not willing to mess with either BitTorrent or Usenet and the nonsense which accompanies both, which is understandable, YouTube offers an excellent third option. And as most people are already aware, YouTube contains high quality and very entertaining videos. The iPod user can easily take advantage of these files by using Videora to capture and convert these files to a compatible format.

In Summary...

Perhaps even better than Videora’s simplicity is the application’s accompanying documentation. Virtually every circumstance the beginner or veteran alike will encounter is displayed in an easy to understand manner. At the end of the day, the iPod is a bit of a challenge for the average PC user. But it’s not an impossible gadget to conquer, and with enough patience and research, most will find it to be a rewarding piece of hardware.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Software

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