Understanding Why Not All Video Formats Are Supported by Every Device

video-processingHave you ever tried to play a video only for a message to pop up telling you that the video isn’t supported or it can’t play? Maybe the video appeared to play but the screen was blank and all you could hear was the audio?

Most of the cases described above arise when the video format is not supported by the device that it is being played on – but why is it that not all video formats are supported? And more importantly, what can you do about it?

Video Format Support Explained:

Essentially to play any video the data that it contains needs to be decoded using what is known as a video decoder. That decoder can take two forms:

Software decoders are rolled into video codecs along with encoders and provide support for a particular format. The software decoder will utilize the processor to decode the video and play it, which requires a lot of power.

Hardware decoders are built-in to the hardware typically use the GPU to decode and play the video – which is known as hardware acceleration. Unlike software decoders they are more efficient due to the fact that GPUs are designed especially to process video and images – and so they require less power.

As you can imagine you can’t just ‘add’ a hardware decoder to your device seeing as it is something that must be built-in and would require you actually changing the physical components within your device. That is why it takes time (often several years) for newer formats to gain hardware support, as it needs to be developed and built into the components.

On the other hand software support is more straightforward and can be downloaded in the form of codecs. Some media players have codecs rolled into them, and will enable them to play back videos that a particular device would not support otherwise. That being said for high quality videos using software decoding to playback the video can be taxing on the processor.

“What To Do About It?”

Overall it is far better to use video formats that have hardware support – but you can’t just add it to your device. However what you can do is convert the video format to one that is supported instead.

Nowadays there are lots of convenient video converters that you can use. For example you could convert any format such as AVCHD to MP4 using Online Video Converter without even needing to download any software.

The only slightly tricky part is figuring out which video formats your device supports in the first place, and you’ll need to refer to its technical specifications for that. As a general rule MP4 with H.264 is a reliable option however as it is widely-supported by most devices right now.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t hurt to also download a video codec pack or media player that has wider-support – just in case you ever need to play a particular video quickly.