Wednesday, November 09, 2005

MPEG-2 to iPod Video on a PC + ReplayTV Stuff

QuickTime on a PC sucks bad. I've been trying to get TV shows that have been recorded on my ReplayTV transferred over to my video iPod. The ReplayTV records shows in MPEG-2 format, but the iPod video needs to be in H.264 format, which is M4V, or MP4 (I think they are either the same or very similar).

Let me step back for a second. ReplayTV is the Betamax of the DVR world. I've had the ReplayTV for about 3 years now and love it. The features are very advanced and TIVO is just now catching up. Of course, I'm a realist and I know ReplayTV is dying, if not dead already.

The best features of my ReplayTV are:

1. Being able to download shows directly to your computer: There are applications (DV Archive) that work on both the Mac and the PC that easily allow you to do this. The downloaded file is in the MPEG-2 format which plays via most video players, but not automatically within QuickTime.

2. Being able to share shows with friends: I can share every recorded show up to 10 times with other Replay TV owners. A great web site called "Poopli" lets me search the recorded shows of other ReplayTV users and then request a download from them. It's great, free and the users are very generous.

3. Being able to add photos to my ReplayTV: I can upload pictures to my ReplayTV and have the images available as a slideshow. This works great when family comes over. We can all sit on the couch and take a look at the digital pictures on the big screen without having to crowd around the computer monitor. These pictures are also displayed as screen saver on the TV while we're pausing the program we are watching.

4. Being able to set recordings from a web page: ReplayTV has always had an online interface that allows the users to access their recording schedule while away from home. I can set shows to record, look at upcoming TV schedules and see what shows I have recorded.

Back to the iPod Video conversion...

Once you have an MPEG movie file on your computer that you would like to convert to watch on your iPod, go and download Videora iPod Converter. Videora is completely free and runs on Windows XP.

Prior to learning about Videora, I had to either open my video file in a video conversion program like Roxio and save it into a format QuickTime would understand, or spend $20 to get the right codec that would allow QuickTime to open the MPEG-2 file. Once QuickTime could open the file, I had to (first buy QT Pro for $30 then) select "export" and choose "Video to iPod". This would generate the correct file for my iPod.

The problem is that on the PC it seriously took 48 hours to convert a 30 minute video spot. Again, QuickTime sucks on a PC. My friends on a Mac could convert the file in about 2 hours. Still crazy for a 30 minute show.

Videora can instead open the original ReplayTV MPEG-2 file, and with one click convert the file right into the correct MP4 format. I tried this on a 90 minutes show last night, and within 2 hours the file was converted and ready to go on my iPod video.

To get the converted video onto my iPod, I simply drag the movie file into iTunes and drop it on the "library" item in the top left. It takes a second to come in, but next time I plug in my iPod, the video is instantly moved over. The quality is so good I can almost read the credits.

2 comments:

Cole said...

Nick:
Just got my 'video' iPod for my birthday over the weekend. Just when I think it may be time to retire the old ReplayTV's I again realize their value. Videora is a breeze to use and the videos look very good. Got a Dora the Explorer for my 4 year old daughter to watch at Little League games and some stuff for me.

Thanks for your post.

joker said...

Wait? You mean to tell me you had this figured out already? I've been trying for months to get shows onto my ipod. Even gave up b\c I didn't want to spend $ on programs and later find out they didn't work.
I love my Replaytv and will keep it as long as it works. I use it every day. I have been moving shows to my computer recently and now I can put them on the ipod. Can't wait to try this tonight after work.
Thanks so much Nick!