Thursday, March 6, 2008

Testing DivX

Ok, so I'm a bit of a latecomer when it comes to DivX. I've never really had any need to use it before. But recently, I was trying to make a copy of a DVD from my hard disk (he he he) and when I was using Nero to burn it as DVD Video, the resulting disk image gets bloated. The original five (5) .VOB files which used to fit in a single DVD Video could no longer fit into a single DVD. I can only manage to put in one .VOB file with Nero. So I decided to do some research on DivX and see if it can solve my problem of cramming the original DVD VOB files onto a single disc.

In layman's terms, DivX is to video what MP3 was to audio. Its a video encoding format that is supposed to give incredible compression with very good quality video and audio. One can download a DivX Player and a 15-day trial copy of the DivX Encoder from the DivX site. If you don't want to watch movies on your PC with the DivX Player, there are several DivX standalone players that you can connect directly to your TV set. Incidentally, my oft-mentioned Philips DVDR3455H Recorder is one such standalone player which supports DivX.

My experiments with DivX so far has mixed results. When I encoded some Quicktime .MOV files, it complained that there are "invalid video streams" and refused to encode it. There were some .MOV files that it encoded without any hitch. But I noticed the file sizes are practically the same. So I guess .MOV files are pretty optimized already and there is not much that DivX can do further. The .MOV files which takes up only about a quarter of my 19" widescreen AOC LCD monitor (at 1440 x 900 resolution), when converted to .divx and played on my Philips Player at home, comes out unbelievably clear on the TV. It looks almost as clear as watching a DVD video.

I also tried dragging-and-dropping the .VOB files mentioned above onto the DivX Encoder, and got really strange results. Although the conversion went through, the file actually became three times (3x) larger! Doing the same for the Windows Audio-Visual Interleave (AVI) format yields a slightly better result. It reduced the original AVI file by about 15 to 20 percent only. Its still far from fantastic. But now, at least I can view the videos on the TV instead of on the PC.

The DivX Player has an interface similar to Windows Media Player wherein you can drag-and-drop the movies you like to burn onto its "burn list". Then just click the "burn" button to initiate transfer. However, I noticed that it seems to only support CD burning and not DVD. Maybe I'm better off using Nero to burn onto Data CD or Data DVD format.

The DivX Encoder will let you combine several input files and merge them into a single DivX file complete with menu. But if you want the merged output file to be in some other format like MPG or VOB, you have to use a 3rd party software. The Allok Video Joiner shareware tool allows you to merge multiple DivX files into a single large file with the format of your choice. The unregistered/free trial copy only converts half of each file though. :P I was able to merge 7 x DivX files into a single DVD .VOB file.

Personally, I'm not yet that sold to DivX. I guess I will still have to do some more experimentation.

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