Jenneth Orantia explains the different ways you can view videos on your iPad.
The iPad’s large display makes it a perfect fit for watching videos. The easy way to go about this is by loading video files to your iPad’s 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, which is enough room to fit a decent-sized library of video clips and movies. But this isn’t the only way to do it. You can save on space by using one of the dozens of apps and services for streaming content and videos over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection, and you can also use a wireless hard drive.
Keeping it local
For the videos you do want to store locally, you can watch them on your iPad using the stock iOS Videos player if they’re in the right format. Transferring a video file is as simple as connecting your iPad to your computer, selecting the file and dragging it over the name of your iPad in iTunes.
If it’s not in the right format, you’ll get an iTunes error message saying that the file wasn’t copied over because it can’t be played on your iPad. You’ve got a couple of options here. One is transcoding your videos so your iPad can play them natively, which can be accomplished easily enough using the free Handbrake encoding program (handbrake.fr).
If you get an error message, you'll need to transcode your files.
When you launch Handbrake, it will automatically prompt you to load the video you want to transcode. Click ‘Open’ when you find it, go to the ‘Presets’ panel on the right-hand side (click the ‘Toggle Presets’ button if you can’t see it) and select ‘iPad’ under ‘Devices’. Make a note of the file path under ‘Destination’, as this is where your converted file will be saved (you can change the destination by clicking ‘Browse’ and selecting a different folder). Click ‘Start’ to begin transcoding and you’ll see a progress indicator at the bottom of the screen. Once the encoding process is complete, you can drag and drop the final video to your iPad through iTunes.
HandBrake is a simple and fast transcoder.
Using third-party video apps
Having to re-encode all of your videos for your iPad is time-consuming. The easier option is springing for one of the third-party apps that can play a wide variety of video file formats. One of our favourites for standard-definition videos is CineXPlayer. This app supports 720p HD playback as well, but we found AVPlayerHD to be more reliable for playing HD videos smoothly.
AVPlayer HD plays HD Videos smoothly.
To transfer video files to either app, open iTunes, click on the name of your iPad in the left-hand column, click on the ‘Apps’ tab at the top and then scroll down to the ‘Apps’ section at the bottom of the window. Select the name of the video player you want to transfer video files to, and click the ‘Add’ button to load the files. Note: iOS doesn’t let you share files across apps, so if you load a video to one app, you can’t access that same video from any other apps.
There are loads of streaming video services with iPad-optimised apps, such as user-generated video services like YouTube and Vimeo, local video content from providers like ABC iview and niche genre video services like Crunchyroll.
There are also a handful of paid services you can subscribe to if you don’t mind paying for content. If you’re a Telstra NextG customer, you can download and use the Mobile Foxtel service, which gives you 31 channels that have been tailored for mobile users, including FOX8, Sci Fi, Fox Sports News TV, Sky News, Channel [V] and Disney Junior. Subscriptions start at $4 for a day pass and go all the way up to the 6-month ultimate combo pass for $89. The good news is that all of the video streaming done through the Foxtel app is unmetered, although you’ll have to turn Wi-Fi off whenever you want to use it. The bad news is that all of the content is optimised for low-res mobiles, so it looks especially blurry on the new iPad.
Mobile Foxtel is unmetered and starts at $4 for a day pass.
Video streaming on the BBC iPlayer isn’t high-definition either, but it’s a higher quality than you get with Mobile Foxtel if you use it over a Wi-Fi connection, and you get on-demand access (rather than channels with a set programme) to over 2,000 hours of British TV. The shows on offer include Spooks, The Graham Norton Show, Misfits and Doctor Who, with subscriptions costing $9.49 for a month and $89.99 a year.
Quickflix is a relatively new video streaming service that has just launched for the iPad, offering a range of on-demand movies and TV shows on offer for $14.99 a month. The selection is reasonably good and getting better every week; you won’t find any new releases here, but there are enough decent flicks available that make it worth at least a one-month subscription. The selection of TV shows is a little skimpy, but again, there are full seasons of good shows like True Blood, The Wire, Entourage, Sex and The City and The Sopranos.
Use a wireless hard drive
If you’re running low on storage, you can also take advantage of wireless hard drives like the Kingston Wi-Drive to store movies. The Wi-Drive, available in storage capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, works like a regular portable hard drive, only it has built-in Wi-Fi that lets you access the contents of the drive from up to three other iOS and Android devices at a time. The Wi-Drive creates its own Wi-Fi network and files are accessed using the free Wi-Drive app.
A wireless hard drive like the Kingston Wi-Drive saves space on your iPad.
The default view for the Wi-Drive shows all of the files on the drive in a list, but you can browse through them by media type using the tabs at the bottom of the screen. To play a movie, tap on the filename and then tap on the arrow icon in the top-right corner of the screen. This will give you an option to open the file in one of the video apps on your iPad. The only catch to using the Wi-Drive is that it doesn’t stream video files in real time -- it copies the entire video to your iPad before you can play it.