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Video on iPad made easy

Down by the seaside on a typical beach dotted with umbrellas and deck chairs everybody can find an activity of choice in summer heat. When it gets really sweltering and not only silly, but downright impossible to idle in the sun people start looking elsewhere. Some go to parties while others spend evenings reading in their hotel rooms. Separate holiday makers keep on solving crossword puzzles and simultaneously swallow specialties of local cuisine washed down by the wine of the country. Some of us love to watch a favorite serial or movie before bedtime.

Earlier we used portable DVD and media players, which followed us everywhere. We strained our eyes in front of tiny phone screens and jumped for joy surrounded by large displays of heavy business and multimedia laptops. Then came the netbooks, which slightly changed the situation for the better. But now we have iPad, which has to play video. Not every kind of video is meant. It plays only what is supported by its configuration. This article will tell you how to convert the wrong files into the right ones happily swallowed by the tablet.

I have to mention straight away that two of three applications described below are made for Mac OS. If to speak about Windows, we will need another article about different ways of video conversion.

QuickTime Player (QTP) 10.0

This is the simplest, probably free (included into the basic program set) application available for any user of a computer run under Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It is a standard media player and if equipped with the appropriate set of codecs capable to play any file formats available today. Apart from the video playback recording from screen and MacBook or iMac integrated camera this player can also save the open video files.

All you need is open in QTP you favorite or completely new piece of video save it as *.mov in HD 480p or HD 720p. After these basic manipulations you just have to wait a bit and the right file is ready. Then with the habitual move add it to iTunes and copy to iPad by synchronizing your devices.

The coding of one minute of usual video on MacBook Pro 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB of storage takes from 30 to 60 seconds depending on the system load with other processes. If you like you can export several files together, which will take more time, but you could forget about the player for a longer period. Five or six files can be coded simultaneously and the rest will be automatically sent to the wait list and the progress bar will start its run under their names one by one.

The only unquestionable disadvantage is the standard player. HD video coding in QuickTime, at least in the abovementioned configuration, was not possible. All attempts to turn *.mkv into pixel rich *.mov ended in failure and the projected time for coding was only increasing with every coming minute.


From the simplest we go to the most familiar. HandBrake has been long in use by many for the complicated procedure of video coding for iPod and iPhone. It came in handy this time as well. The application easily creates the files of the necessary formats for iPad settings. The users probably have to put in more efforts, but the result and the process are worth it.

The current version of the converter allows coding video for iPhone, different versions of iPod and AppleTV, but not iPad. That is why after the launch we should not hurry to open the source file, click on Toggle Presets and make your choice in the popup menu to the right. First, download this profile, import into the settings list, select it and only then click Start and wait.

The major advantage of HandBrake becomes obvious in all its glory. Unlike QuickTime Player this application doesnt pay much attention to the source file resolution. It handles HD or simple DVD Rip format equally well. The coding time approximately equals the playback time. The Madagascar Penguins in a Christmas Caper short (12 minutes) in the mentioned configuration was done in 10 or 11 minutes.

At the same time HandBrake changes the format of one file, but you can also put other files in the waiting list, which is especially convenient while transforming the directors cut of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and the Emmy-winning Friends.

The second undeniable advantage of the converter is its cross platform nature. Apart from the Mac OS (including PPC) version HandBrake is available for Windows (2000/XP/Vista/7), Ubuntu 9.10 and Fedora 12. If necessary you can get the source code and use it for your own purposes. The distribution package can be downloaded from the official website.

Wondershare iPad Video Converter

We have finally reached our last experimental application. WiVC (for short) codes video for the tablet as can be seen from its name. It should not require additional installation profiles and must be ready to start immediately after the installation. It completely delivers on its promise, but there is one downside it is not free. Until May 31 it is not a big problem as the licenses for this converter are given away almost for free.

To get the key visit the developers website, fill in your active e-mail address, first and family names. Within one working day you will receive to the e-mail address you have indicated on their website the link (you can get it beforehand) to download the application and some abracadabra for registration.

As to the application itself I have to admit that if you reject QuickTime Player as the one incapable of HD video conversion, then WiVC is my favorite in terms of convenience and ease of use. The application really does not require anything else, it just works after the installation and registration. High resolution video is easily transformed into 1280720, which cant be bad. At first you think that there is no difference between 1024576 and the only resolution suitable for iPad, but after the first seconds you feel the difference. All in all we have definite advantages.

In this list we should also add traditional and necessary for this kind of software task priority, support of changing the picture with effects, zooming and framing. You cant say it does everything, but the minimum editing capabilities are here.

There is always a spoon of tar in a barrel of honey. Actually, we have two such spoons here. The first one is the speed of coding. The same MacBook Pro configuration converted 12 minutes of video playback within 20 minutes. For every minute of video playback in WiVC I needed around 100 seconds.

So finally

Eventually we have one shareware (QuickTime Player), one freeware (HandBrake) and one application legally available for free until May 31 (WiVC). The first one is preinstalled and does not require anything else until you start dealing with HD video. The second can do everything (if you know how to write profiles for coding). Even if you dont have the necessary experience you can find the settings to convert the video not into 1024576, but into more visually appealing 1280720. I think the update will appear soon followed by the proprietary solution.

WiVC upsets only with its slow speed, but you have to pay for quality and high definition. This is not all. The miracles happen when you decrease the quality of resulting video. If you choose 640480 then we dont have one minute of playback time to one minute and forty seconds for conversion, but 1:1. As to the latest video trends the high tech 3D effects are likely to thrive with the highest quality (definition and resolution). Whether you need it for relatively old TV programs and serials we watch even ignoring the channels logos? The answer is a resounding no. Unfortunately, the decrease of picture quality leaves the file size mystically unchanged.

The most interesting is arguably the size. Its an open secret that 16GB of internal storage (in the basic version of iPad) is not enough. It can be the pinnacle of desire for a phone screen, but not for iPad, which display is several times bigger. In other words, to watch video on iPad you will have to buy the 32GB version. If you want to get positive emotions and enjoy the high definition video go for 64GB.

This assumption can be supported by the following figures. One minute of video created with the help of QuickTime Player (HD 480p) requires around 13,75MB of storage. A movie of 1.5 hours will need 1,2GB, and the full season of 24 50-minute episodes of a series will take up almost 16GB, which is the maximum capacity of the basic iPad. One minute of video from HandBrake (with the abovementioned configuration for coding) needs 16,6MB. A movie in this case will require 1.5 GB and the full season around 20GB. WiVC is even heavier 28,5MB per minutes or 2,6GB for a movie and the record breaking 34,2GB for the full season of a series. Slightly more than 50% of the maximum capacity, but you will have HD picture.

The first draft of the article ended with the comparison of user friendliness and thumbs up for WiVC. The calculations from the previous paragraph may be quite important for many consumers though. No matter how stunning your HD picture is it will not worth much, if it cannot fit in. Such size (of a series) is a bit too much even for 64GB iPad. Finally, the practicality of the third converter reviewed today is under threat and the market is dominated by QuickTime Player, used by many (including me) in order not to look for anything different, and HandBreak, usually discovered by those who are somehow not satisfied with QuickTime Player. To tell the truth I now belong to the second group because 720p is really cool, but enough is enough.

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

Kirill Egerev (skuzmin@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published 09 June 2010

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