Saturday, October 29, 2005

iPod with Video

No I haven't bought one. Not yet.

But I have been exploring ways in which an iPod with Video (its official name, not Video iPod) might work for me. One is to see how easy it would be to put an existing DVD video into iPod format. I've made some progress here but there are still several avenues to explore. The first thing was to test how good an iTunes episode of Lost is. It is surprisingly good, even when played back at 2x screen size using Quicktime 7. I did notice that the sound is sometimes out of sync after heavy use of the PowerBook during playback, but a simple pause-play double click brought everything back together. That is not a problem with the iPod since it doesn't multi-task.

Next, I took a DVD that had already been ripped to the hard drive using Mac the Ripper and then converted it to iPod format (320 x 240) using Handbrake. Both apps worked as advertized. The big question I now have is whether I should crop a widescreen format down to the iPod screen aspect ratio. Not owning an iPod I don't know whether the iPod can do this during playback, though one article I have read suggests it can.

The quality of the resulting mp4 video is good. It doesn't have the H264 compression advantage because I have heard that Handbrake's codec doesn't work with the iPod. A 2 hour movie weighs in around the size of a CD (Handbrake will actually optimize a conversion to fit a CD if you ask it to).

More experiments are in order.