Future-Proofing Your Video for Upcoming iPod Video

With the iPhone released, it’s pretty obvious that this is the future of the iPod. Video fans are expecting the next iPod to be essentially the same as the iPhone, only just the iPod part. I’m not going to speculate beyond that, but it’s also what I believe, and that it will be released this iPod Season (Sep./Oct. this year).

So what about all the work you’re putting into ripping of your DVDs? What standard do you adopt? Do you stick with the iPod and iTunes standard or do you tweak it higher? Well, it’s pretty obvious that the next-generation iPod should have more video power (I’m guessing that iPhone does, but its official supported video specs are the same as the iPod’s), but without published specs, it’s pointless trying to guess.

Personally, I’ve decided not to watch TV shows on my iPod. I really like the full-resolution versions that I’m watching on Apple TV. I only watch 30-45 minutes of video on my iPod per day and that’s the perfect time to catch up on a number of video podcasts. I like to watch music videos sometimes at work and am therefore still interested in producing iPod-compatible music videos. Here’s the summary of my situation:

  • Movies: Apple TV only, not iPod
  • TV Shows: Apple TV only, not iPod (one or two exceptions, which are strictly from EyeTV, not DVD)
  • Music Videos: iPod-optimised, also for Apple TV.

It’s only 2 months (minimum) to iPod Season, so my feeling is if you want to produce files compatible with it, either make them iPod compatible now or just wait until we see the new specs. If you’re a quality hound, you will probably want to wait.


3 Responses to Future-Proofing Your Video for Upcoming iPod Video

  1. Yashin says:

    I completely agree, I like my video in iTunes to be encoded at the highest available quality. I imagine Apple probably could support anamorphic resolutions on the video iPod without too much more processing power, so maybe it will be there for 16:9 ipods. I wonder if the iPhone has a new video processing chip?

  2. tunegardener says:

    I know the iPod Video will have a resolution that doesn’t warrant more than iPod-spec video, but it would be great to rip 1024 x 576 (anamorphic PAL) for Apple TV and not have to create a lower-resolution version just for iPod. I’m thinking of the largest size screen you will want to watch it on, while still being able to put it on iPod. I’m sure the supported spec will be identical, at least for this year.

  3. Yashin says:

    I have to confess, I’ve found that Nero Recode 2’s 5.5G iPod output (640×360, 1500 kbps, stereo 128kbps) is close enough to DVD for me to be happy watching my ripped DVD TV shows like Lost/Alias/Sopranos etc. There are occasions when the macro-blocking is apparent, but not very often. Aside from the acceptable quality level, the profile is very simple to use and has the advantage of being iPod compatible.

    I think Apple has taken a similar approach to video as it did to music – sure 128kbps audio wasn’t near as good as CD, but it was a lot more convenient (for Apple and the consumer) to provide on a download service. If Apple can get consistently high quality transfers of movies and TV shows at 720×400 1500 kbps on the iTunes Store, they can make download a viable alternative to DVD/cable TV. Providing HD content is only a small step on from this, but actually delivering it on a large scale would surely require a significant overhaul of iTMS infrastructure? Of course the point is moot for me, I live in the UK where there is no video on the iTMS.

    And I’m with you on the video-on-iPod experience. I don’t tend to bother watching video on my iPod, it just isn’t a satisfying experience – small screen, huge battery drain. Even on long flights/train journeys, I need the battery juice to be able to listen to music, and on most of those occasions I’ll have my MacBook with me anyway.

    The prospect of the next gen iPod with widescreen video display is certainly attractive, but I suspect that once again, battery life will be the major stumbling block to portable video playback.

    I also reckon that there’s little need for any new iPod to be capable of playing back any more than the 5.5G iPod is – even on a presumably enlarged 4-inch 16:9 screen, 720×400 video at 1500kbps is going to look great, and stereo sound is still going to be the standard. Playback of higher resolutions/bit rates will only drain the iPod’s battery faster. The idel solution would be for iTunes to automatically downsample existing video for iPod syncing, similar to the shuffle setting which can reduce audio bitrates. Unfortunately, given the speed of h264 encoding, I suspect this is impractical.

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