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Don Watkins

How To Make A Playable DVD From Internet Video

By Don Watkins



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 Internet Archives 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 Replay 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 burning process.

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 Replay Media 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 superior solution for burning Internet video to a standard DVD.

Replay Converter. Free to try, $9.95 to buy. Demo available at the link.



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