Reading here, you know I love my Zune. But, there is one thing I absolutely hate about it and that’s the fact that Microsoft refuses to allow you to convert and sync certain video codecs and containers. A lot of MS products are like this so it isn’t really a surprise. The same goes for iPods and other portable media players (PMPs.) They each only support the file types that the company has decided to support, but I want to be able to watch my content on the go. Luckily there’s an easy way to do this.
There are a lot of video conversion suites out there. Most of these require installation of the codecs to which you want to read and convert. Some are simple affairs while others boast more features than you’d ever want to deal with. EncodeHD is simple for sure, but simplicity is it’s strength.
If you can’t tell already, I’m a fan of this application. I have been since it was Encode360 (previous application which EncodeHD replaces). You can read my email interview with the creator, Dan Cunningham, over at the Entertainment 2.0 blog. Dan has put a lot of work into the application and it shows. While EncodeHD will re-encode your video files for home use on different systems, this article will focus on it’s use for PMPs.
As I stated above, EncodeHD is all about simplicity. When you download the application, you unzip the files to a folder and that’s it. There’s no installer. When you run the application you double click the icon and go. EncodeHD comes packaged with everything it needs to run so there’s no codec packs to install which (for us MCE users especially) takes the guess work out of what you need. The interface is simple and uncluttered. You can drag and drop the files you want to convert right into the app. From here, simply select the device you want to play your content on and you’re ready to go!
That’s it. Hit that start button and watch your conversions go. The time it takes of course depends on the file size and type. This is really one touch encoding. The app includes batch processing so if you want to let it run over night and convert, say, an entire season of a television show, it should be done by morning.
EncodeHD has support for a good number of devices and it seems more are added with each new version. Currently supported are:
- BlackBerry (8100) Pearl
- BlackBerry (8200) Kickstart
- BlackBerry (8300) Curve
- BlackBerry (8700) Electron
- BlackBerry (8800) Indigo
- BlackBerry (8900) Javelin
- BlackBerry (9000) Bold
- BlackBerry (9500) Storm
- iPod 5G
- iPod Classic
- iPod Nano
- iPod Touch
This is just a list of the portable devices. EncodeHD also supports:
- Apple TV
- Playstation 3
- Western Digital TV
- X-Box 360
One thing to keep in mind is that when converting for the Xbox 360, you will lose surround sound. I spoke to Dan about this quickly and learned that the Xbox doesn’t support AC3 audio in mp4 so it can’t be included in the stream. This is something MS could solve I’m sure, but I won’t hold my breath.
In the end, if you’re looking for an easy to use video conversion utility, this is as far as you have to go. With support for AVI, MKV and other popular formats, one click and batch conversion, you’ll finally be able to take them with you!