So many video file formats, so many handheld video players, so many online video sites, and so little time. To have your favorite clips how you want them—whether that's on your DVR, iPod, PSP or desktop—you need the right utility to convert 'em into the format that works for you. Commercial video converter software's aplenty, but there are several solid free utilities that can convert your video files on every operating system, or if you've just got a web browser and a quick clip. Put DVDs on your iPod, YouTube videos on DVD, or convert any video file with today's top 10 free video rippers, encoders and converters.
10. VLC media player (Open source/All platforms) Ok, so VLC is a media player, not converter, but if you're watching digital video, it's a must-have—plus VLC can indeed rip DVD's, as well as play ripped discs in ISO format (no actual optical media required.) VLC can also play FLV files downloaded from YouTube et al, no conversion to AVI required. Since there's a portable version, VLC's a nice choice for getting your DVD rips/saved YouTube video watching on wherever you go.
9. Video Converter Platinum (Share/Windows)Supports video formats such as MP4, MOV, 3GP, AVI, WMV, RM, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, FLV, ASF and also HD video formats including TS, TP and TRP. It also supports audio formats including M4A, WMA, WAV, MP3, AAC and AC3. With the video joiner of this all-in-one video format converter, you can even merge multiple files into a single video file, and can trim or crop to edit your videos according to your need.
8. Avi2Dvd (Freeware/Windows)Make your video files burnable to a DVD with Avi2Dvd, a utility that converts Avi/Ogm/Mkv/Wmv/Dvd files to Dvd/Svcd/Vcd format. Avi2Dvd can also produce DVD menus with chapter, audio, and subtitle buttons.
7. Videora Converter (Freeware/Windows only) Videora Converter is a set of programs, each designed to convert regular PC video files into a format tailored to your favorite video-playing handheld device. The Videora program list includes iPod Video Converter (for 5th gen iPods), iPod classic Video Converter (for 6th gen classic iPods), iPod nano Video Converter (for 3rd gen iPod nanos), iPod touch Video Converter, iPhone Video Converter, Videora Apple TV Converter, PSP Video 9, Videora Xbox360 Converter, Videora TiVo Converter, and Videora PMP Converter. Lifehacker alum Rick Broida used Videora in conjunction with DVD Decrypter to copy DVDs to his iPod.
Honorable Mention: Ares Tube for Windows converts YouTube and other online videos to iPod format.
6. Any Video Converter (Freeware/Windows only) Convert almost all video formats including DivX, XviD, MOV, rm, rmvb, MPEG, VOB, DVD, WMV, AVI to MPEG-4 movie format for iPod/PSP or other portable video device, MP4 player or smart phone with Any Video Converter, which also supports user-defined video file formats as the output. Batch process multiple files that AVC saves to a pre-selected directory folder, leaving the original files untouched.
5. Audio Converter (Share/Windows)The converted audios can be played on popular audio players including iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod classic, iPod touch, Zune and all kinds of MP3 Players. This excellent Audio converter provides you with various audio settings such as bit rate, audio channel, and sample rate and so on to adjust the output audio quality.
4. VidDownloader (webapp)When you don't want to mess with installing software to grab that priceless YouTube clip before it gets yanked, head over to web site VidDownloader which sucks in videos from all the big streaming sites (YouTube, Google Video, iFilm, Blip.TV, DailyMotion, etc.), converts 'em for you to a playable format and offers them for download. Other downloaders for online video sites buy you a Flash FLV file, but VidDownloader spits back an AVI file.
3. iSquint (Freeware/Mac OS X only) Convert any video file to iPod-sized versions and automatically add the results to your iTunes library. iSquint is free, but Lifehacker readers have praised the pay-for iSquint upgrade, VisualHub, which offers more advanced options for a $23 license fee. Check out the feature comparison chart between iSquint and VisualHub.
2. DVD Shrink (Freeware/Windows only) Copy a DVD to your hard drive and leave off all the extras like bonus footage, trailers and other extras to save space with DVD Shrink. Download Adam's one-click AutoHotkey/DVD Shrink utility to rip your DVDs to your hard drive for skip-free video play from scratchy optical media.
Honorable mention: DVD Decrypter (beware of advertisement interstitial page), which Windows peeps can use to copy DVDs to their iPods.
1. Handbrake (Open source/Windows, Mac)
Back up your DVD's to digital file with this open source DVD to MPEG-4 converter app. See also how to rip DVDs to your iPod with Handbrake.What's your favorite way to convert video to the right format? Did we miss any good ones in this list? Let us know in the comments.