Sunday, January 25, 2009

Video conversion for Apple Toys


For the uninitiated owning an iPod, iPhone or Apple TV and trying to get your movies onto everything must be a total nightmare. If you have bought one or more of these great gizmos they are simple to plug in and get working but woe betide you if you want to start putting your own DVD's into iTunes or worse still your own videos.

It's a minefield. Video used to be simple you had Windows type stuff and Apple Quick Time type stuff and it all worked as long as you didn't want to mix. Now if you have a mini DV Camcorder you have to know what format to put it in to get it in to iTunes (as mini DV is a Windows AVI format).

It get's worse now if you buy an HD Video camera it's an absolute nightmare it's a whole new format and all the software that comes with the camera is over simplified to the point that you have no hope of getting your holiday video into iTunes.

I have a friend who has all the toys (we'll call him Fred to protect the innocent). He queued for an iPhone, upgraded to the 3G, loves his Apple TV (which I have to say is a great "does what it says on the tin" device - except it has no playlists), has had a succession of iPods over the years and now has both a Nano and a bzillion gig' iPod. This boy loves his music and is probaly up to 90Gb at least.

I am a mac user now, having finally converted over a few years ago and have never regretted it, so when I help him out with his Vista machine life is complicated. The first thing is that iTunes or Vista places an "open with iTunes" link when you right click ANY video, whether iTunes can handle it or not. So poor Fred right clicks his new video from his posh new HD camcorder and expects it all to work - which of course it does NOT.

So what is a poor user to do? Cleverly Fred decides that he'll burn his new videos to DVD and then can import them to iTunes, no dice. So then he buys both Quick Time Pro and Intertech DVD converter. The QT Pro seems a waste of time, but the Intertech seems promising now his conversions go into iTunes and play in iTunes. Wicked!

But no again the world of common sense i.e. "if it's in my iTunes, it will work on my iPod, iPhone and Apple TV". 'fraid not. The Apple TV refuses to play them.

After two hours of mucking about with this intertech rubbish it seems pretty plain that the £30 was a bad call, it hangs, it converts badly the quality sucks, the image has flashing bit's like a TV with the horizontal hold gone wrong etc .........

So I did a bit of googling and found this http://dvdtoipodreview.com/top5-dvd-ipod.html. It was the top link and a sponsored one at that which makes me suspicious. Taking a look and it has reviews with supposedly 84 rippers tested and recommends the top 5. What lovely people doing this for us - but I'm still suspicious. Why would someone not just blog this which would have much more credibility. Having a poke around in the links seems to show some affiliate code which may indicate they get a commission on sales, but to be honest who cares.

In the end we went for Cucusoft Ultimate Video Converter package and the results look very promising. I am no expert but if you can load some software click a few buttons and start converting without being a super video tech, then that has to be good. It even has profiles for different devices e.g. Apple TV which makes life super easy. Haven't even got to the HD conversion nightmare yet, but finding a simple tool to rip stuff (legally of course) for your iPod etc. is just too damn complex for the uninitiated.

As to the bunch that set up the web page, what a great idea for a simple affiliate commission earner (as long as they really did do the tests - but as you can free trial the top 5 who'se to worry). Lesson for me here is, if you review a few things in your blog, join the affiliate program if you provide click thrus you've got nothing to lose.

Update: He finally went for handbrake http://www.handrake.fr which I hadn't realised was on Windows

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