Video iPods and Windows
So getting some video onto your new iPod eh? I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that it takes a lot of time and patience.
As an introduction, video iPods will only play two video formats. They are both highly compressed and high quality. That is good! Before I point you towards the way to convert, I think it is good to have some idea of what you are doing (or the programs are doing for you). The specs iPods require are as follows:
Video Type: H.264 or MPEG-4, H.264 is apple's high def format, MPEG-4 is the highest compressed format out there (xvid is quite good). H.264 will give you a prettier picture generally, MP4 will be smaller if filesize is equal. (Go with MP4 if you have a 20gig iPod otherwise it I prefer H.264).
Max Video Data Stream: H.264 - 768 Kbps, MP4 - 2.5 MBPS. This means that the maximum amount of data per second the ipod will read is X. Kbps is kiloBITS per second, 1/8th of kiloBYTES per second (what we measure internet speed in). Ditto for Mbps, 1/8th M/s
Resolution: H.264 takes only 320x240 (these are pixels, your computer screen is probably 1024x768 or roughly triple the resolution here). MP4 takes 480x480.
Audio Specs: H.264 – AAC up to 160kbps at 48khz. So again we have the data stream (like the video one) and the frequency range. MP4 takes the same as H.264. Both take stereo.
So this may be more than you would like to deal with, but if you are interested in learning more visit doom9.org .
The way I do it in Windows, takes three steps and a lot of time. First I rip the relevant VOB files from the DVD with DVDDecrypter. I know there are lots of other great solutions (like DVDx, SmartRipper, et all), this is the one I've use for sometime. I convert the VOB files to AVIs with AVI.net. This is time consuming! Then I use Videoras free iPod convertor. This step is also time consuming! Best to batch a bunch of files at night and go to bed. As for the Videora settings, I prefer you choose Q4 and 96kbps. It'll make smaller high quality files. So this my solution.
There are many other ways to do this though. You can buy PQDVD for $35 or so. I've never used it, but they say it works well and easily. If you have Nero Recode (or don't mind dropping $80 or so) checkout this page. This is a great walkthrough of how to do it. But if you don't have Nero already, it is expensive. If you want to do it for free read this page. It is a bit more nitty gritty, but the webpage has some clear pictures and clear instructions. Truthfully you can do it any of a thousand ways so long as the specs match up to those listed above. Here are three other tutorials that use all free software.
There are literally dozens of free programs that will do this sort of thing. The reason it is so tricky in Windows is because iPods use an Apple standard. Macs have had this forever, but it is new to Windows so the tools are costly or crude.
PS All of the free software listed is easy to get if you google or follow the links listed. There is one exception, DVDDecrypter was recently bought by macrovision (they are the ones partially responsible for making DVDs a pain in the rear to copy) and macrovision immediately got rid of the product. You just have to google for it, it is out there.