Internet TV and video conversion

A little while ago I bought an HDTV and was looking for a nice media player and a conversion tool to help me enjoy it. As I already had paid for the TV, I assumed that free software would be nice. Here’s what I found that works for me.

The role of the media player or media center was quickly filled by a program called Boxee which is generally described as a cross-platform freeware media center and includes features like social networking, lets you view, recommend and rate the videos you watch. It runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The wide range of different video, audio, picture and subtitle formats should cover just about anything that you would want to play in a media center. Also I really like the interface which is easy on the eyes and looks awesome when viewed on HDTV. But be warned that at the time of writing Boxee is still in the development stage and the most recent version (released on 7 January 2010) is beta release. I started using it while it was still in alpha and even then it seemed to be pretty stable on my machine. Found out about the beta release by watching the Hak 5 episode 622 where they visit the CES 2010 and talk about Boxee and the Boxee Box release. Ever since I bought the TV I thought about building some kind of silent machine to act as a media center, but then I found out about the Boxee Box development and now eagerly await its release. This seems to be a very promising product.

The other great tool I found is called Any Video Converter which captures the gist of the program very well. A commercial and free version are available. I tried the freeware and was really pleased with the ease of use and the variety of video formats that it supports. I needed to convert f4v and m2ts files to xvid encoded avi files and thanks to Any Video Converter this was a breeze. I haven’t even heard of such file types that I was converting from, but that didn’t stop the converter. It also provides you with the capability to download videos from sites such as YouTube, Google Video, MetaCafe and NicoVideo. I haven’t used this feature much, but it’s there if you need it. It also helped me a lot when I needed to prepare an avi file for online viewing on a page that wasn’t prepared for video streaming. I converted my file to FLV format, uploaded the output along with a flash player to the page and the video was available online, all within minutes.