I love video on the Internet but for anything over a
couple of minutes I'm just not comfortable viewing it on my
computer. Here I've got a comfortable chair, a dedicated DVD player
and a big screen TV and I'm watching a video on my (relatively)
funky computer. Doesn't make sense.
The problem is that my DVD player isn't all that flexible, it
pretty much just wants standard movie type DVD format disks. My goal was to find
an easy way to burn Internet video (formats like FLV, AVI or WMV) to a standard
disc playable in any DVD player.
The first problem isn't computer fixable; there's no magic
software that's going to take a crummy quality video and make it better and
there's a ton of video on the Internet that's very low in quality. That's not
necessary a bad thing as most times it's going to be played in a small box on
your computer, it won't be more than a minute long and then forgotten but wow,
when you put that on a big screen TV the quality is terrible. There's no magic
solution for this.
However there are Internet to video programs that make it
worse and these come in the form of codecs. What the heck is a codec? It's the
software that (en)CODes or DECodes the digital data. So if you're converting,
say, an AVI file to a standard DVD it uses software to decode the AVI format and
then more software to encode it to mpeg2 (the format of standard DVDs). If the
codecs for these tasks are crummy you're going to get crummy results.
So for starters I loaded up trials for a bunch of Internet
video to DVD programs and grabbed an AVI video from the
Open Source video site.
And boy did I turn up some clunkers. Five of the six packages
I tried produced a DVD that was basically unwatchable with fuzzy and jerky video
that wasn't present on the original.
However one program did an outstanding job creating a perfect
copy of the original. Not better mind you, that's not possible, but there was no
loss in quality.
That program is a $29.95 package called
Converter from Applian Technologies.
Before I go into the process let's look at what it does other
than convert and burn Internet video files to DVD. In addition to that it also
converts and burns audio files and rips and burns DVD's (although the latter is
a process I didn't try). If you want a run down of all the formats that are
supported you can view them at the above link.
Output is flexible. In addition to burning to DVD you can
convert to a file on your computer. For instance convert from an AVI to iPod or
even convert it to a standard MP3.
It's as easy to use as anything. Simply select the file (or
files, you can put multiple movies on a DVD) you want to burn, select what kind
of output you want and the format and click the Go button.
Want some control? You can use the options feature to change
things like bit rate and frames per second (for smaller size if you're putting
video on a mobile device for instance).
A word about conversion; it's slow. Replay Converter does have
a feature that allows you to allocate more or less computer resources to the
That's it for the conversion. After the file is converted
there's another step for the actual burning portion of the program but it's as
simple as inserting a blank disc and clicking on another button. I might add
that the Replay Converter burning engine is as good as anything I've used and
didn't produce a single coaster.
Why did Replay Converter produce better results than anything
else? The aforementioned codecs that Replay Converter uses are better than any
of the other packages I used. Replay Converter uses a quality set of codecs vs.
the other programs I tried.
What if it's video that you can't download? Piece of cake, use
Applian Technologies excellent
Catcher to capture any video or audio playing on your computer such as stuff
from Youtube and save it to your hard drive for either computer playing or for
burning to a DVD or MP3 disc.
I do wish it were magic and would improve video quality but
alas that's still in the future, if ever. Until then Replay Converter is THE
solution for burning Internet video to a standard DVD.
Converter. Free to try, $9.95 to buy. Demo available at the link.
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