Sometimes, software just works well. Such is the case with MyTV ToGo, an add-on for Windows XP Media Center Edition (and Windows XP) that will convert your recorded TV programs into formats ready for Windows Mobile Smartphone, Pocket PC, iPod Video, and PlayStation Portable. I’ve been trying a number of applications over the past week to convert and this is the one that does it for me. I purchased a license for the Video iPod version and with it came support for PSP.
The concept isn’t new and frankly you can do the same thing with free software. FFMPEG, a popular geek utility for file conversion is actually at the heart of MyTV. But what it does well is conversion into MPEG-4 (4:3 TV content) with good cropping and reasonable amount of time. Expect a 1 hr TV program to take about 45 minutes to convert, possibly less depending on your CPU.
Conversion (and transfer) are seamless… for the PSP. That’s not to say it’s not without a few issues. iTunes required a little cajoling to get the content to transfer but once it started, the rest is history. Programs will show up in your My Videos folder as well as on your device under Movies.
Then there’s quality- both were “acceptable”. I used the “Better” setting for video and ended up with a 391MB .MOV file for The Amazing Race for iPod (MPEG-4, 320×240, 846kbps, AAC, Stereo 48khz), and for the PSP, a 217MB .mp4 (MPEG-4, 320×240, 630.45kbps, AAC, Stereo 24khz) file. The PSP file appears to have a second audio stream encoded, but unsure based on what Quicktime Pro is or isn’t telling me. I have a 1GB MemoryStick Duo card ($99.00) and being able to carry around only 3-4 programs isn’t of big interest to me. A big shortcoming of the PSP IMO is the lack of a built-in HD for user storage.
A few other items that I’d like to see:
- Scheduled recordings – right now recordings are manual. How about supporting scheduled recordings or setting it to automatically convert all new (non-repeat) programs?
- Background conversion – conversion right now can throttle for background operation, but what about when I’m not using my PC? WMP auto-converts in the background so transfer is seamless.
- More control over settings. I like the simplicity of the model, but let the user get under the hood with more advanced profile settings.
- Support for AVC codec for PSP. It’s more efficient but requires a license from Sony, something I gander they’re not likely to do.
- Make it clear that the iPod Video software (which costs $29.95 and doesn’t offer a demo) also includes support for PSP.
As for final thoughts, simple and does what it purports to do, which a lot of touted iPod Video and PSP Video software today- does not IMO. As for Pocket PC and Smartphone, I’ll stick with MCE 2005 and Windows Media Player 10 which I believe do a better job overall. Next up: Attempting to encode HD content which they claim to do.