QUESTION: I need some advice about video conversion. Using DivX, a WDTV Live drive and a large hard drive, I've copied my entire DVD collection to disk. I've been reading about the H.264 format, however, which apparently retains the same quality at a lower bitrate. I'm interested in switching DivX Converter for Handbrake, which is free. Will it really give me the same quality with smaller file sizes, and is it only beneficial for HD video?
HELPROOM ANSWER: Converting video from one format or another is often a minefield. Differences in file size can be down to a variety of factors, including the screen resolution and picture quality. If you convert a DVD to display in full-HD, a DivX conversion will have a larger file size than H.264.
If you're converting DVDs to go on your WDTV box, you'll want the best image and sound quality. Try the following settings in Handbrake: Mpeg4 file format; AVC/H.264 video codec; AAC audio codec; x.264 encoder; average bitrate of 200K; two-pass encoding enabled. An audio bitrate of 192Kbps will result in the best sound.
Finally, under Picture settings, choose 'Keep aspect ratio: On (unless needs correction)' and 'Crop: Automatic (unless needs correction)'.