H.264, Ogg Theora, MP4, Xvid, MKV, FLV: The world of online video can be pretty confusing. Not only are there tons of different formats and acronyms, but various devices and services actually have vastly different requirements. A video you downloaded via BitTorrent most likely won’t play on your iPhone, and the software that comes with your Flip camera won’t be of much use to prepare an upload for Wikipedia.
Tools to convert videos have been out for a while, but many of them used to be fairly complex, asking for detailed settings about bit rates, audio codecs and interlacing. However, there have been a number of new applications released in the last couple of months that make converting and even transfering clips and movies between devices much easier. Here are five great free tools to check out.
Miro Video Converter: Video conversion doesn’t really get any simpler than this. Drag any video onto the Miro Video Converter, select one of several output formats via drop-down menu and hit convert to get things going. The Miro Video Converter comes with preset conversion settings for Apple’s (s AAPL) iPhone as well as various iPods, a number of Android (s GOOG) phones, including the G1, the Nexus One and the Droid (s MOT), as well as Sony’s (s SNE) PSP. Videos are automatically scaled to the right screen size, while preserving their original aspect ratio.
Also, this is one of the few easy-to-use tools that offers conversion to the open source video format Ogg Theora that is used by Wikipedia and other open source projects. Miro’s video converter doesn’t feature any way to transfer your videos, so you’ll still have to rely on iTunes or other tools for that, depending on your device of choice. (Windows, Mac)
DivX Plus: The most recent version of the DivX video player makes it possible to convert video files for playback on DivX-certified devices, which means that you’ll be able to play your videos on the PS3, as well as many DVD players (just take a look for the DivX logo), pretty much any Blu-ray player, and a number of TV sets without having to figure out the settings to do so. DivX Plus offers the ability to transfer the converted video files to USB flash drives or burn them to a CD or DVD right within the application. Check out our recent review for more details. (Windows, Mac version in the works)
doubleTwist: This is the most comprehensive solution to convert video files and transfer them to mobile devices, with doubleTwist boasting a list of more that 200 compatible devices that range from Apple’s household names to almost any Android phone you can think of to Nokia (s NOK) handsets and even to the PSP. Oh, and did I mention Blackberry (s RIMM) and Palm (s PALM)? doubleTwist also offers a range of additional features, like the ability to subscribe to video podcasts. Basically, it’s like iTunes without being restricted to the iPod or iPhone. (Windows, Mac)
RealPlayer: Real’s (s RNWK) software doesn’t have the best reputation among online video veterans, but the most recent version, dubbed RealPlayer SP, actually has some decent conversion options to prepare your videos for mobile devices like the iPhone, various Blackberry phones and game consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Users can also download videos directly from YouTube and even use simple editing tools to trim them before converting and transferring the resulting clips to the device of their choice. Read our recent review of the software here. (Windows, Mac)
Vuze: This BitTorrent client not only offers access to a ton of content, but it also converts any downloaded video for playback on iPhones, iPods, the Apple TV, Sony’s PS3 and PSP, Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Xbox 360 and even newer Tivo (s TIVO) DVRs. Files can be transferred or streamed through your home network, based on the playback device of choice. (Windows, Mac)
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