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Tutorial: How to play HD videos on a single-core Intel Atom netbook.


Do you have old or low-powered hardware that seems unable to play HD-quality videos ?
If the answer is yes, then donít worry. Help is at hand with a video file manipulation application called handbrake. This tutorial is for those who, like me until recently, had never heard of or used this application.

I discovered handbrake while trying to figure out how to play HD-videos (1080p/50fps) on a single-core Intel Atom netbook (see signature), which I use mainly as a portable media player. Due to the low processing power of this machine, playing HD videos resulted in either stuttering (choppy video motion) and/or a lack of audio/video synchronisation (audio running ahead of video).  To make this video play on an Atom netbook, or other old or low-powered hardware, youíll need to set the bitrate and reduce the frames per second (fps):

First, download and install handbrake from the repository that comes with the LL package. When youíve done this, open it from Menu (type handbrake in Menu search box).

Then, from within handbrake, load the file you want to modify, using the Source or File/Source buttons in its toolbar. Make sure youíve indicated the desired Destination for the modified file, though by default it appears to choose the Videos directory. Next, look for the toolbar running from left to right (located half-way down the handbrake window) with the following options:


Click on the option Video, then:
- select option Bitrate (kbps),set this to 2500
- select option Constant Framerate, set this to 25 (PAL Film/Video)
- click on Fast Decode (not sure if this makes any difference)
- finally click Start Button to start file processing.

When youíve finished, collect your modified video file from the Video directory and open with your media player - the playback experience should be improved. If not, you could try a lower bitrate, e.g. 1500 kbps. Processing time will depend on the type of file modification you want, e.g. a lower bitrate setting of 1500, it will take longer.  With a bitrate/fps setting of 2500/25, a video with a 30 minute playback time took me around 45 minutes to process on a Dell Latitude D630. Handbrake will do all sorts of other video file modifications - Iíve only described one specific case here.

NB. Modifying video files is very CPU-intensive. Therefore, itís highly recommended that you donít carry this out on a low-powered machine (it may either fail or take forever) - I recommend using at least a Core-2-Duo computer - the more cores the better !

PS. around 23-24 fps is apparently the threshold framerate, at which the brain is fooled into seeing continuous motion.

Hoping this tutorial will be of use to someone.


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