questionscan you help me convert file types?

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I'm actually using Format Factory 3.0.1 right now, joining 4 mp4 files to 1. It also converts video formats, but I don't believe mkv input/output is an option. I frequently download programs converters from Giveaway Of the Day, which offers 1 free software product a day. Seems like there's been a bunch of converters offered lately. If nothing else gets recommended, at least bookmark this page: http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/
Programs I've used in the past seem to be rather time consuming. I too have lots to convert, but no time to do it :( God forbid I just set one up and walk away for a few hours...
Good luck.

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@j5: I will definitely go dl handbrake when I get home from work today. Thanks!
@flamingonut: I've never seen that site, but I will start checking it out now. I hope some useful software comes up :D

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Think about getting a WDTV live. It allows you to stream pretty much any format of media file from any computer on your network, reads USB drives, streams netflix/youtube/etc. Got mine from Staples for about $55 last summer and have really used it a lot. It reads everything I've thrown at it, and no more worries about conversion of files.

I can have an xvid avi or x264mkv on my laptop, and just rightclick on the file and select "play to" and boom, it pops up on my tv through the WD media player.

I used to have to convert everything to play through my old xbox media center or through a usb thumb drive on my old dvd player that supported xvid/avi format.

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I would recommend not converting to AVI. AVI is sort of a dead format. H.264 in either an MP4 or MKV container is the way of the future. I recommend looking into a combination of Plex Media Server (free), and Roku (around $50).

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I don't know why everyone is recommending handbrake to you, while it an excellent program, it DOES NOT convert to avi. It can convert from almost any format, but it only outputs in mkv and mp4.

The best free converters I have tried that will do what you want are mediacoder and SUPER. However, honestly I don't really like either of them.

If you can afford it, I agree with everyone else in recommending you just buy a device that can play back these filetypes. They are quite cheap and will save you a lot of hassle. Also, pretty much any video conversion detracts from the quality of a video, so you will just end up spending a lot of time making videos that look less good.

http://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html

http://www.mediacoderhq.com/

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I like DVDVideoSoft. It converts from just about any media format to just about any other.

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http://www.filehippo.com/download_freemake_video_converter/

Freemake offers free program for video converting - developed as alternative to popular paid software. “Free, easy and of high quality” are the fundamental principles of Freemake.

Convert video free to AVI, MP4, WMV, MKV, SWF, 3GP, DVD, MPEG, MP3, iPod, iPhone, PSP, Android, rip & burn DVD, convert online videos directly from 40+ sites, burn Blu-ray, and upload to YouTube with our free video converter!

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I have had success with SUPER, and use it a lot. I can batch a dozen videos, and it will convert them overnight. And if it fails on one, it will continue with the rest.

Some caveats about SUPER:
The website is a nightmare to navigate. Expect to spend about 10 minutes trying to find the 'download' link.

The GUI is a nightmare. It has settings for EVERYTHING, but is actively user hostile.

When you kick it off, you will want to wait to make sure that the conversion starts. There is sometimes a dialog that takes a minute to pop up.

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I have also used Super to convert files. I agree that the GUI is complex and difficult to use, but once you figure it out, it can convert almost any format into almost any other format.

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haven't used it for a while, "X-to-dvd" was something I used a few years ago to convert various video file types, you may want to check if that's still around/useful.

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@portezbie: Yeah, crap! You're right! Sorry OP.

j5 j5
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@kamikazeken: @omnichad: @portezbie:
Seems like most conversions will indeed mean loss in quality. But will the streaming quality of roku/wd live depend on my internet speed? Will I get choppy video or lag at all? I would be ok spending 40-50 bucks if it maintains a HQ stream

Thanks for the responses everybody!

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What is wrong with Hamster Video Converter? I do not use them but often get asked, and that is the one I recommend, is it wrong?

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@caffeine_dude: I've never used it but it looks like it might have done adware or something in it. It's also fairly simplified which some people like and some people hate

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@portezbie: Thanks, did a quick google: hamster video converter adware removal
Looks clean and super easy to use (why I recommend it, else I get to support calls).

Unless anyone else says different I will continue to recommend.

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@hirshy: If you're streaming to Roku on your local network, it only depends on how fast your local network is. Doesn't use your Internet except to establish a connection through the free Plex account. However, you could also take your Roku on the road and watch your media collection while away. This does factor in against your Internet's upstream connection. But Plex is adaptive and will stream at a lower quality if needed.