Multi-Platform Video – is m4v the answer?

I’ve been working with home media for a very long time, and have a range of recording and playback devices, and settling on a common format to playback on all my devices has been a bugbear.

My recent conclusion has been that H264 mp4 (m4v on Apple) is the best compromise, as it plays nice with iPhone, iPad, PS3, Xbox360 and Media Center. Setting a default for iPad playback (704×576) is also a reasonable compromise of size and quality.

My primary recorded is a Windows7 Media Center machine with 2 x USB and 2 network tuners (HD HomeRun), which records wtv format (a bloated version of MPEG-2), and is automatically set up to compress to wmv and copy Recorded TV to my HP Windows Home Server.

To convert to m4v I have tried many apps, but settled on Handbrake because it

  • is cross platform, Windows, Mac and Linux
  • has a wide range of output presets
  • is free

The first trick is that Handbrake doesn’t accept wtv files, but Windows7 can convert the wtv to dvr-ms (the original media center format) with a right click, which Handbrake *does* accept.

Then drag the file into Handbrake, select the preset (iPad) and go. It’s not as quick as I’d like, I get around 40-50fps on my quad core 4Gb machine, with CPU at 97%, which means a file takes around 1/2 of its running time

I’d like to find out how to batch convert to dvr-ms and run Handbrake, but that’s for next time

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