What are AVIs and MKVs?
AVIs and MKVs are media container formats used for video playback on computers, and nowadays, spreading to CE devices such as the Humax HDR-FOX T2.
AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave and is a Microsoft video container. There are many video codecs found within the AVI container, but the most popular is DivX and Xvid.
MKV is the Matroska multimedia container and is an opensource universal format for multimedia. Although it can contain virtually any video codec within, it is commonly used to store high definition video format such as H.264/AVC.
What media formats does the HDR-FOX T2 support?
Humax have provided 3rd party media playback on their two latest boxes the HD-FOX T2 and HDR-FOX T2, but they haven’t really documented what codecs are supported except Xvid. Even more disappointingly so, Humax haven’t made any effort on keeping the aspect ratio of the video and most are stretched to fill whatever picture setting your PVR is set to.
However, the two container formats (and extensions) I am talking about here, AVI and MKV are certainly recognised. Although, what codecs within these two are playable is certainly up for guess. Do not worry though, I will document each extension and codec supported on these two Humax devices on the MyHumax Wiki on the Media Playback page.
Why convert recordings to AVI or MKV formats?
Most if not all PVRs or digital recorders that record direct to hard disk will capture raw broadcasts to plain transport stream or BDAV MPEG-2 Transport Stream container file format. This is an uncompressed format so will result in large file sizes – especially HD broadcasts. Converting to compressed formats will reduce the storage size of the recording and depending on video setting, picture quality can be kept at a high level.
Compression using DivX or XviD can reduce an SD recording from 4GB to 1.5GB and for an HD recording, reduction from 8GB to 4GB can maintain the broadcast PQ at a high level. The only disadvantage of converting from .ts to .avi or .mkv is that you might need to make an effort to keep the 5.1 surround sound and the subtitles features that benefit keeping recordings in their original broadcast formats.
Playing Recordings and other Media Formats
The best media player available for any computer is VLC Media Player from VideoLAN. This is completely free and is a must for anyone wanting to view any video format on any computer. You can download it at the link above or from the AV Programs download page. Do it now!
Not only does this useful piece of software playback your recordings but will also transcode or convert them to other format, and I will be using this to do so.