The ability to watch video on different types of devices is a wonderful thing. Not so wonderful are the compatibility issues that often arise when you try to watch the same video on different devices. That’s because not all video players can play all video formats.
Let’s say you shot a video with a camcorder. You’ve downloaded the file to your computer and you’d like to email it to a few friends. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that they won’t have the proper software or plug-ins to watch it.
That’s where video converter software comes in. With a video converter, you can simply change the video’s file format to something more universal, like AVI. It’s also helpful when you’d like to watch a video on a mobile device, like an iPod or smartphone, which might not support a format intended for viewing on a PC.
There are lots of video converters to choose from, and the technical jargon they throw at you can be overwhelming. Don’t be intimidated — there are just a few things you need to know.
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN VIDEO CONVERTER SOFTWARE
The most important aspect is to make sure your video converter supports familiar formats like AVI and WMV for watching on a PC, and MP4 for mobile devices. If you or your friends use a Mac or iPad, look for MOV file support.
Along with file formats, your video converter should support common video codecs, such as MPEG-4 and WMV. If high-definition (HD) matters to you — and it should — make sure the video converter supports the H.264 codec. Although H.264 is the standard codec for Blu-ray discs, it’s also widely used in streaming web video. If you want to post your videos to YouTube or Vimeo, for example, both of those sites support H.264 encoded video files.
Another feature to look for is batch conversion, which allows you to convert several files at once. Also, the ability to trim your videos comes in handy for eliminating unnecessary footage at the end or the beginning of a video and reducing the file size when you want to share a clip via email or post it on a social networking site.
USING REALPLAYER’S BUILT-IN VIDEO CONVERTER
Along with its ability to play all common video formats, RealPlayer includes a free video converter. Simply click on the video icon in the RealPlayer Library and choose the Convert option. Choose the new file format and the RealPlayer Video Converter does the rest. RealPlayer supports all the popular file formats, including MP4, AVI, and WMV. Additionally, RealPlayer can convert a video to a MP3 file, which you can transfer to a mobile device to listen to educational videos, interviews, and the like. Essentially, it allows you to convert a video into an audio podcast.
If you upgrade to RealPlayer Plus, you can convert videos to MKV, which is becoming an increasingly popular web video format because of its ability to support multiple audio tracks, DVD-like interactive menus, and user-generated subtitles. RealPlayer Plus also supports the H.264 and MPEG-4 codecs for high-quality video playback.
VIDEO CONVERTERS MAKE SHARING VIDEOS A SNAP
While all these file formats might look like alphabet soup, having a general idea of what different devices can generally play which video formats definitely helps. That will make converting videos easier and increase the chances that the person you are sending your video to will be able to watch it. There are plenty of online video converters available that can be downloaded to your computer, a little knowledge can help you pick the one that’s right for you.
What device do you use to watch online videos most? Do you have problems playing videos sent to you from friends and family? Have other questions about video converters? Let us know in the comments below.