Tips on Choosing an External Media Player for your TV
Would you like to play Divx, Xvid, MKV, MOV, MP4 or even high performance video formats in H.264, VC-1 directly from your television set? Here are tips on choosing an external media player to help you do so.
That would involve purchasing a video converter program and putting up with long encoding time, not mention the cost of blanks DVD discs. It’s tolerable if you’re converting the occasional movie. What if you have a huge collection of video files in non-DVD formats?
The only painless way to play these non-DVD files easily would be through an external media player. An external DVD player can be regarded as the hardware version of versatile media players you use to play media files over your computer. They decode almost any video format thrown at them. All you have to do is plug your pen drive or hard drive into the available USB ports of the media player and you’re ready to go.
If you have a membership to a movie download site, an external media player would be the quickest and easiest way to play back your downloaded movie files. If all this excites you and you’re thinking of running out and buying the next media player you hear about, hold on a moment.
Consider these tips to help you make a wise buying decision.
First Thing you should know
The first thing you should know is the difference between Video Container and Video Codec, many people are confused why the media player they bought doesn’t support certain files but it’s on the supported list, here is the reason.
Video Container (for example .AVI .MOV .MKV .MP4) – The box to hold the video data
A container or wrapper format is a meta-file format whose specification describes how data and metadata are stored (not coded). A program able to identify and open a container file might not be able to decode the contained data. This can be caused by the opening program lacking the required decoding algorithm, or the meta-data not providing enough information.
You can find more at wikipedia : Video Container
Video Codec (for example MPEG, H.264, H.264, Xvid)
Video codec is a device or software that enables video compression and/or decompression for digital video. The compression usually employs lossy data compression. Historically, video was stored as an analog signal on magnetic tape. Around the time when the compact disc entered the market as a digital-format replacement for analog audio, it became feasible to also begin storing and using video in digital form, and a variety of such technologies began to emerge.
You can find more at wikipedia : Video codec
So when you look at a certain Video file, don’t only look at he file extension, check the real codec used inside the BOX/Container. You may need some software to do that. I recommend MediaInfo, which is an open source and free software and it can tell you everything about your video files.
TIPS: Always check the Codec used by the Video file (NOT container), as well as the Codec used by the Audio Track of Video file and make sure the external media player support both Video & Audio Codec.
Entry Level Media Player
Mid Range Media Player
High End Player with Recording and TV Tuner
Do you have a HDTV? If you do, ensure that the media player comes with HD support. If you have a 1080p Full HDTV, make sure the media player supports that format. Most mid-range media players support the format anyway.
If you own an analog TV set with S-Video or component input, make sure the media players supports them so that you could get videos with better clarity on your television set.
Do you need built-in storage for your media player? Check the maximum storage capacity it supports. Does the media player support SATA drives or just IDE drives?
If you would like to play back your videos from an external storage device, check whether the media player supports older FAT 32 type drives. If you have a large external hard disk drive, check the storage limit supported. Some media players only support external drives of up to 1TB or 1.5TB.
If you have high speed broadband and wish to stream video to your television set from video sharing sites like YouTube, you could choose a media player which comes with network support. Such players cost slightly more than those which support only playback from external storage devices.
Firmware Upgrade and User Forum
Ensure that the manufacturer has a support site that provides for firmware upgrades. At the time of purchase, the media player may come with minor bugs or unsupported video file formats. Firmware upgrades are supposed to address these issues.
If the media player is of any repute, it would have a user forum where issues related to the player would be discussed. You may want to go through the posts in the forums to get an idea of its performance before making a buying decision.
An external media player is a convenient device to play back video files not usually supported by your DVD player. The most important thing to check before buying one is whether it supports video formats of your choice and the newer formats with firmware upgrades.