|Tip 1: Convert video for your Archos player|
|Tip 2: Convert video for your Creative Zen|
|Tip 3: VisionConvert video for your iPod|
Tip 1: Convert video for your Archos player
Although Archos models such as the AV500 and the Gmini 402 can play a variety of video files (including AVI and MPEG-4), some of your movies will need to be converted to the proper resolution and/or format. Before you start down that road, however, try using Windows Media Player 10 (WMP 10, available only to Windows XP users) to copy your files. You may be surprised by how many files will play on your Archos without any conversion.
MPEG4 Translator, which ships with Archos players, is a utilitarian and effective tool.
The process is the same as copying music: Select the desired movies, add them to your Sync list, then click Start Sync. In most cases, WMP will simply copy the files to your player, though it may try to convert some if necessary.
If you don't have Windows XP or WMP 10 or you've encountered some files that won't play properly on your Archos, you'll need to call in the big guns: MPEG4 Translator and Virtual Dub, which ship with Archos players. These utilities work in tandem to convert most kinds of videos to a format suitable for your player.
Here's how to make it happen:
- Download the free DivX codec and install it on your PC.
- Connect your Archos player to your PC, then navigate to its Data folder using Windows Explorer. From there, venture into the Installation Software folder (this may vary somewhat depending on your model).
- Install Virtual Dub, which actually requires nothing more than unzipping the program into a folder on your hard drive.
- Install and run MPEG4 Translator. You'll be asked to provide a path to Virtual Dub; navigate to the folder on your hard drive where you unzipped it, then select the Virtual Dub program and click Open.
- With MPEG4 Translator running, click Select Source File to choose the video you want to convert, then click Set Destination File to specify where the converted file should end up. If you want, you can send it straight to the Video folder on your Archos.
- In the Target drop-down menu, select your Archos model. If it's not listed, choose Archos Default.
- Click Start--and be prepared to wait. As with all video conversions, these can take time.
- Once the file is complete, copy it over to your Archos PVP and see if it plays.
Tip 2: Convert video for your Creative Zen
Using Creative's bundled Media Explorer, you can convert just about any kind of video file (AVI, DivX, MPEG, WMV, and so on) for viewing on your Zen Vision or Zen Vision:M. Of course, because the Zens have native support for such a broad range of formats, it's possible that some files won't require conversion at all. That's the beauty of Media Explorer's Convert Video utility: it will tell you which of your selected movies require conversion and just direct-copy those that don't.
Video conversion novices will find Creative's Media Source software a breeze to use.
- Start Media Explorer and click Convert Video.
- Click the Add button and choose the files you want to convert.
- Click Next, then adjust the quality settings as desired. For example, if you want your videos to look their best and you have space to spare on your Zen, choose Best Quality.
- In the same dialog box, select an output folder for the converted files, then click Next.
- Review the selected files to see which ones require conversion and which ones don't. You shouldn't have to make any changes here, as the utility won't bother converting videos the Zen can already play.
- Check the box marked "Transfer converted files to this player after conversion," then click Next. Now go get a cup of coffee while the utility works its magic and copies the reformatted movies to your player.
If you have a Windows XP Media Center 2005 PC, plug in your Zen and wait for the Sync option to appear. Choose the Add More option, then choose Recorded TV. Select the shows you want to copy to the Zen, then start the process. Note that you may want to remove (by highlighting and clicking the X) all the other sync selections that are listed by default, otherwise you could be in for a long wait.
If you want more control over what you copy to your Zen (the Media Center interface limits you to recorded TV shows and forces you to take three episodes at a time), you can use Windows Media Player 10 to manually select and sync TV shows, movies, photos, and the like.
Tip 3: VisionConvert video for your iPod
Although iTunes 6 promises to convert some kinds of video for iPod viewing, it supports only QuickTime formats (MPEG-4 and MOV). You could pay US$30 for QuickTime Pro 7.0.3, which includes a convenient Movie To iPod mode, but even that limits the kinds of movies you can convert.
QuickTime 7 is OK, but Videora's iPod Converter is more encompassing.
A better solution is Videora's iPod Converter (US$30, free trial).This 6MB utility makes simple work of transcoding your movies into iPod-compatible MPEG-4 files. It supports all the popular video codecs, including AVI (DivX), MPEG, QuickTime, and WMV. Even more impressive, it can convert VOB and TiVo To Go files, great for ripped DVD movies and TiVo recordings, respectively.
Here's how to use iPod Converter to put your movies in your pocket:
- Download, install, and run the program.
- Click Setup, then find the Output Videos To field. Choose a folder (My Videos, for instance) where you'll be able to easily find your converted movies.
- Click Convert, then click the One-Click Transcode button. Navigate to the folder containing your videos and select one or more (hold down the Ctrl key while clicking if you want to choose multiple files).
- Click Open, and iPod Converter gets right to work. Now be prepared to wait, as transcoding can take time--often as long as the movie itself.
- When your videos are done converting, fire up iTunes (you need version 6.0.2 or later). Import the new files, then drag them to your iPod.
About the only format iPod Converter doesn't support is DVR-MS, which is used by Media Center PCs for recorded shows. Thankfully, you can stock your iPod with Lost, Desperate Housewives, or pretty much anything else without paying Apple US$1.99 for the privilege. All you need is Proxure's US$29.95 MyTV ToGo 3 (www.mytvtogo.com), which automatically converts recordings and copies them to your iPod. This simple Media Center add-in can be operated using nothing more than your remote, so you don't even have to get off the couch.
For video conversion tips for the Sony PSP, check out our Insider Secret: Put video on your PSP.