Tip o' the Week: iPhone Cinema

You are traveling and have a long flight ahead of you. You aren't feeling very social and the last thing you want is to get into a conversation with the person next to you who just happens to have a great multi-level marketing opportunity for you. 

It's late at night and you can't sleep. Your significant other has already called it a night and you're bored out of your mind.

In both scenarios above, you desperately want to catch up on your DVD backlog, but who has the time? Well, read on for this week's Tip on how to turn your iPhone into your very own silver screen!

You are probably well aware of the ability to watch videos on your iPhone. You can connect to iTunes and rent movies, download to your iPhone, and enjoy. You may not know, however, that you can squeeze your own DVD collection (or at least several titles from your collection) onto your iPhone to watch whenever you wish.

In order to watch movies on your iPhone, the video file needs to be compressed. There are numerous applications out their on the web that you can purchase for a nominal fee and start "ripping", or compressing, your movie collection. However, one app that I'm fond of that just so happens to be free of charge is Handbrake

Handbrake is easy to use. Just load your DVD, start up Handbrake, and it scans your DVD for the files it needs to compress. Just make sure you select the proper format for your movie; Handbrake will rip your DVD in the format you preset, i.e. iPhone or iPod Touch, iPod Classic, etc., depending on the screen size. Once the scan is done, you click "Start" and your movie file will be compressed in about an hour or so. Once compressed, just copy the file to the "Movies" section of your iTunes Library and then sync your movies to your iPhone. You are now ready to take your DVD library with you wherever you go!

Keep in mind that you should only compress movies that you OWN (ahem). Now you can plug in your headphones and watch a movie on your plane ride or with your head propped up on a pillow in bed without disturbing anyone. The sound quality is great with the headphones and the picture quality is surprisingly good too. Whether it's your favorite movie or television series, try it out today!

That's it for this week's Tip. If you have a tip of your own that you would like to share with the rest of us, please leave a Comment or you can email me at: brian.hart@tipb.com.

Disclaimer:  Tip o' the Week makes no guarantee, express or implied, that any tip found herein will be new or particularly useful to the reader (and please only watch movies on your iPhone when in a seated position -- and NO, driving a car doesn't count as a "seated position"). 

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Tip o' the Week: iPhone Cinema

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I've always been curious about this, especially with the battery life of the new iPhone 3G. Is there a way to actually charge your iPhone while you are on the plane?

Handbrake is absurdly easy to use but it does require a bit of experimentation to find that sweet spot between file size and quality. I personally set the quality around 65% and that tends to produce output that I can live with in terms of quality AND size. I don't need to fit every episode of the Simpsons on my iPhone at 15MB/ea.
I like Magic Video Converter for converting AVIs into M4V's. Again, getting the balance of quality and size takes a bit of experimentation but isn't too hard.
As far as battery life: I've previously turned off 3G, Edge, Wifi, essentially put the phone into airplane mode and reduced the brightness to about 50% of max and my phone (then it was on 2.1 firmware) did exactly eight hours with about 10% of the battery left. That will get you across the Atlantic but I hope you don't have to call anyone when you land.
PS: Handbreak only works with un-encrypted DVD's (e.g. your home-made movies) or with an ISO. Since you have to break the encryption on your DVD's with DVD Shrink or something similar ...why is the author, Brian, worried about doing this only on DVD's that have been legally purchased? It's not legal to copy your own DVD's and there is probably not a vast amount of distinction in terms of fines or jail time between illegally copying your own DVD's and downloading an ISO or AVI file of the same.

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I just tried Handbrake, and VL. Worked great for 1 movie, then crashed on any other movie I tried. Guess I am missing something also? Help :)