Scott Hanselman

Squishing TV onto your PSP

October 21, '05 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews | Gaming
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I'm a HUGE fan of the PSP. Not for games, although Hot Shots Golf is wonderful, but rather as cheaper Media Center. I was showing it to anyone who would listen at the MVP Summit recently (including a PM in the Portable Media Center group who had a lot of good input and thoughts.)

About a half dozen folks I talked to bought PSPs and a 1 Gig Memory Stick that can be had for less than US$80. So, for a total of US$330 you've got at LEAST 6 hours of video to go, and possibly as much as 10 hours. When my laptop is along for the ride, I pre-rip-squish-burn MP4 AVC videos for later transfer to the PSP.

Last week I was on the road from Sunday to Saturday passing through Denver, Omaha, Cincinnati, Toledo, Chicago, and New York. Ended up missing a flight back to Portland and instead flew to Seattle, rented a car and drove back to Portland. Needless to say, there was time to kill.

For DVD content, like the complete season of FireFly, I used DVD Decrypter to make temporary backups of my DVDs to VOB files. These VOBs were immediately squished with PSPVideo9. I don't save VOBs, they are just a temp file, since I own the DVD.

For TV shows, I squish the AVIs, MPEGs or WMVs that BeyondTV creates when recording TV. I also squish the video from my two ReplayTVs after extracting them with DVArchive.

PSPVideo9 is a VERY easy to use program, and videos can be squished and copied to the PSP with few clicks. However, finding the right compression ratio for you and your tastes can be confusing and waste a lot of time.

Here's what I ended up with for 4:3 and 16:9 formatted content:

  • First note: I upgraded my PSP to version 2.0 firmware over wireless, and I recommend you do the same. Homebrew apps (1.5) just aren't that compelling, and when you upgrade the PSP to 2.0 you get a nice web browser. Cool, sure, but what you REALLY get is the support for AVC compressed MP4 video. These are nearly half the size of the standard PSP video with the same quality.
  • Second: If I'm using DVDs, I rip the VOB from the DVD, making sure to only get the streams I need (specifically English sound and subtitles) - note the link above. That makes the VOB ripped WAY smaller. Why rip the Spanish langage track if you're not going to use it?
  • Third: I ALWAYS AND ONLY use AVC compresion, not SP. SP will always disappoint you. The PSP has two folders, one for each. PSPVideo supports both.
  • Fourth: In PSP Video 9, take the lowest quality AVC Profile the include (AVC/320x240/29.97fps/256kbps Stereo/96kbps) and make a new one (AVC/320x240/29.97fps/192kbps Stereo/64kbps). This one is for your 4:3 content.
    Make another from (AVC/368x208/29.97fps/256kbps Stereo/96kbps) and lower it to (AVC/368x208/29.97fps/192kbps Stereo/64kbps) and us this for your 16:9 content. You'll need to change the bitrates and framerates after you click "New Profile."
    You'll barely notice the difference from 256kbps to 192kbps but the file sizes will be WAY smaller.
    Watch the bitrate while the conversion happens. It should be around 300k/s. If it's 3000k/s you've done something wrong. :)
  • Conclusion: This gives me 16:9 with 1hour = <115megs and 4:3 with 1hour = <120 megs. A sitcom (23 mins) is usually 60megs and an hour drama (43 mins) is usually 90megs.
  • P.S.: Quicktime7 apparently added support for this AVC MPEG4 format, so these PSP-squished videos can be watched locally with just Quicktime.

Yesterday I downloaded and squished all the now legendary BMW Films (that are scheduled to be taken down forever TODAY) and turned them into 8 small PSP videos about 20megs each. I'll enjoy them at my leisure.

UPDATE: Sony is jumping in with their OWN PSP Media Manager, except this one is $20. Hm.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Friday, October 21, 2005 10:26:32 PM UTC
They have that crazy 4gb add-on for the PSP now.

I still say the idea of a video device with only 1gb of storage is pretty dang ridiculous.
Friday, October 21, 2005 10:43:46 PM UTC
The Sony MemoryStick DUO has some functional limitation of 4GB. I suspect we'll see paged memory modules as some point so that we can use higher capacity memory broken into 4GB pages.

The 4GB hard disk looks interesting, but I'd rather wait for the NEO-MS 4in1 PSP Pad. It's a nice looking attachment that supports SD/MMC/CF/MS cards. Very handy if you already have a some memory laying around. It also extends the battery life using standard rechargable batteries. To top it off, it has a form factor similar to a standard Playstation controller. Helps to make my PSP fit in my fat hands. All that for about $100 US. It's not out till November though. :(
Friday, October 21, 2005 11:17:02 PM UTC
Jeff - Don't knock 10 hours of video. I'm not looking for a device that lets me hold my entire collection. 10+ hours is more than enough for me.

Plus, it's worth noting that the battery life (as there's no hard drive) is ridiculously good, on the order of 6 to 8 hours.
Friday, October 21, 2005 11:18:30 PM UTC
I'd love to use the 4in1...I'm an SD guy now, and with 1gig SD so cheap, I could keep four or five around and share them with my camera.
Friday, October 21, 2005 11:22:03 PM UTC
This IS hot:
http://www.neoflash.com/forum/index.php/topic,892.0.html
Franklin Ajaye
Saturday, October 22, 2005 2:29:13 AM UTC
More people have asked me about my PSP than any other device. One person went so far as to ask if it was a (gasp) iPod. A flight attendant asked me about it because she had received one as a gift and didn't know what to do with it.

Another nice feature is that there are number of electronic magazines [1] being published for it (done using a series of images). So if you run out of movies, there's plenty more to do than games. There are also comics and books as well though the books are a bit of a pain, since the PSP has no bookmarking ability.

[1] http://www.pspmagazines.com/
Sunday, October 23, 2005 7:59:05 AM UTC
I happen to be a psp owner and let me tell you that this is the best investment I have made in a handheld.....anything! The video quality and sound are both crisp, game graphics are unlike any other handheld's, and the games themselves are fun as well. I know that memory wise, they do not come equipped with much right from the store, but those flash cards are more than enough to hold an episode or two of MacGeyver ;). The only things I am waiting for are FF7: Advent Children the movie and the next FF game for psp...anyone heard of when the game may come out? Oh, and nice blog, I am finding this one quite interesting. Come visit mine if you have time =).
Monday, October 24, 2005 1:29:11 PM UTC
My only gripe with the PSP is the lack of games that I want to play. I have seen the screen and it is absolutely gorgeous. Game graphics are beautiful, but there may be 3 games out that I'd actually want to play. Meanwhile, I have about 6 games for my Nintendo DS that I play on a regular basis, with more that I'd like to pick up that I haven't had the cash to pick up yet (not to mention my library of GBA games that are backwards compatible.) I recently purchased the Play Yan, an MP3/MPEG-4 player for the GBA/DS. I know it won't quite compare to watching videos on the PSP, but hopefully it will tide me over until the PSP starts seeing new games on a regular basis.

Portable Media--PSP is king; I'd still take my DS (or my GBA for that matter) for games any day.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:28:20 AM UTC
Scott, have you tried Videora and the PSPCasting option in PSPVideo?
I'm not having much luck getting it to auto copy the downloads and wondered if you'd tried?

excellent post btw.
One thing I'd note is that the DVD Decrypter default of 100% sound level was a little quiet on my PSP (I had to turn the volume right up). 200% was a little lounder and probably means I can drop the volume level when listening through headphones on a plane. Not sure if that'll help with battery life but thought I'd mention it..

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.