5 Ways to Convert Your Video Files

H.264, Ogg Theora, MP4, Xvid, MKV, FLV: The world of online video can be pretty confusing. Not only are there tons of different formats and acronyms, but various devices and services actually have vastly different requirements. A video you downloaded via BitTorrent most likely won’t play on your iPhone, and the software that comes with your Flip camera won’t be of much use to prepare an upload for Wikipedia.

Tools to convert videos have been out for a while, but many of them used to be fairly complex, asking for detailed settings about bit rates, audio codecs and interlacing. However, there have been a number of new applications released in the last couple of months that make converting and even transfering clips and movies between devices much easier. Here are five great free tools to check out.

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BlackBerry Buzz: LTE BlackBerry to China; Bolt Updated

It’s Tuesday and that can only mean it’s time for our weekly feature, the BlackBerry Buzz. The Buzz is where you’ll find out what’s been going on in the BlackBerry brambles. You’ll hear about everything that’s worth knowing in the awesome world of the BlackBerry. RIM (s rimm) has announced they are bringing the BlackBerry to China, and not just any old phones. The deal with China Mobile calls for BlackBerry models that will work on the LTE network. We don’t expect to see any LTE models on this side of the globe any time soon.

The Bolt browser has been updated to version 1.6, bringing faster page rendering. The new version also adds a password manager. Bolt can now be set as the default browser for the BlackBerry for users who wish to do so.

Foursquare for the BlackBerry will be entering into beta soon. The social network based on locations is growing in popularity, and BlackBerry owners will soon be able to join in the fun.

Apple Sued Over MMS: But Who Really Uses It?

According to a report this week on The Mac Observer, Apple (s aapl) and AT&T (s att) have been presented with a class action lawsuit by a customer who accuses them of misleading the public by advertising the MMS capabilities of the iPhone 3GS despite not making those capabilities available in the U.S. when it launched.

(Yawn.) I’ll let you mull over whether the accusation is fair; the plaintiff, Francis Monticelli, says in the suit that “MMS functionality was one of the reasons people chose to buy or upgrade… it has [become] clear that AT&T’s network does not support MMS.”
TMO points out Apple made it quite clear MMS functionality would not be available in America at the launch of the iPhone 3GS. Surely you remember the hilarious (and embarrassing) murmur of amusement and derision from the audience at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference when Scott Forstall introduced MMS? “29 of our carrier partners in 76 countries around the world will support MMS at the launch of iPhone OS 3.0,” Forstall announced, then, trying to keep a straight face, added, “In the United States, AT&T will be ready to support MMS later this summer.” Read More about Apple Sued Over MMS: But Who Really Uses It?

Android This Week: A New App Store, But No Updates for G1?

gigaom_icon_google-android The Android world got another app store this week, one aimed at so-called “high-end” devices such as the forthcoming ARCHOS 5 Internet Tablet. But in the meantime, existing owners of some not-so-high-end Android handsets were warned the only way they’ll be able to get OS updates is by buying an entirely new device.
ARCHOS this week set a date for the official launch of its Android-based ARCHOS 5 Internet Tablet, which sports a 5-inch display designed for playing HD video. It’s expected to allow TV recording on the 500 GB hard drive, too, thanks to the TI OMAP3440 processor, which is optimized for video processing. The launch event is scheduled to take place on Sept. 15 in Paris. Read More about Android This Week: A New App Store, But No Updates for G1?

Google Phone Designers Envision Self-Driving Electric Concept Car

The launch of the Google (s GOOG) G1 phone, which the firm Mike and Maaike helped Google design, came after years of speculation and months of waiting. Now the San Francisco-based design firm that had such influence on the look of the G1 has come up with the Autonomobile, a concept for a futuristic, self-driving, low-speed electric vehicle that will probably never get built but could offer some inspiration for companies developing cleaner transportation technology.

autonomobile-exterior-black

GigaOM writer and founder Om Malik described the G1 phone as the equivalent of the Honda to the iPhone’s BMW last fall in his review of the device. The Autonomobile is no Honda. The concept, intended for 2040, according to Design Magazine’s Dezeen blog (h/t Fast Company), and envisioned as “the end of driving,” is pretty out there when you consider the hurdles ahead for plug-in versions of the models we already drive. Mike and Maaike’s design nonetheless offers an interesting assembly of some real-world strategies for the future of transportation and reducing vehicle emissions. Read More about Google Phone Designers Envision Self-Driving Electric Concept Car

Android This Week: Samsung i7500 Greenlighted, Acer Netbooks Planned

android-logo1More companies readied their Android phones for release this week, while others were hard at work figuring out how to use the operating system in non-phone devices.

Handset maker HTC (s htc) revealed that it’s helping AT&T (s t) get ready to join the Android (s goog) team with a new phone. The HTC Lancaster is a slider phone that looks a lot like the G1 that HTC made for T-Mobile but with a Windows Mobile bent: HTC is including on the Lancaster a special Android social messaging interface for consumers. It’s expected to hit stores in August. Read More about Android This Week: Samsung i7500 Greenlighted, Acer Netbooks Planned

The End of the Search Box in Mobile?

A host of downloadable offerings are helping users of high-end handsets locate the nearest hardware store, check the local weather forecast or scroll through the latest headlines. The phenomenon is leading some observers to claim that apps are better suited for mobile use than traditional search engines. But to claim that the new applications threaten Google or any other online search provider misses the point.

First Clips and Screen Shots: G1 Gets Video Recording Through Android Update

Google (s GOOG) has added video recording capabilities to the HTC G1 through an update of its Android operating system that was sent out wirelessly to T-Mobile customers this week. Android version 1.5, code-named Cupcake, also features video sharing via YouTube, email and MMS. Bruce Lidl did a great first write-up of the new features earlier this week, but we couldn’t resist giving Android’s video recording a shot as well.

First the facts. The G1 records 3gp videos encoded with the h.263 video codec. There are two recording modes: High-quality offers you a resolution of 352×288 and a 360 Kbps bit rate while the low-quality setting comes with a resolution of 176×144 and a bit rate of 192 Kbps. How does all of that look? Well, see for yourself.

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Android This Week: 18-20 Phones Expected, Upgrade Concerns Sparked, Cupcake Rollout Started

android-logo1Android anticipation continued to pick up steam this week, fueled in part by Google (s goog) executive Andy Rubin’s proclamation that 18-20 smartphones based on the OS would be released later this year, by some 8-9 different manufacturers. Rubin also shed light on how the OEMs must sign an agreement with the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), the consortium behind Android, to include Google software such as Gmail on their devices.

Smartphone king HTC, maker of the T-Mobile G1, is hard at work on other handsets based on the Google juice, including versions of the HTC Magic that will include Microsoft (s msft) Exchange support. The Exchange client is part of what one HTC executive called the company’s own “special sauce.” We fear, however, that such a mixture might lead to Android upgrade difficulties down the road if Google and the OHA don’t take steps to avoid them.

And this week saw T-Mobile G1 customers start receiving Android 1.5, aka Cupcake. Reviews of the new version, the over-the-air rollout of which had been briefly delayed, have been favorable so far. Android 1.5 adds video recording and an on-screen keyboard, the latter being especially important as handsets without physical keyboards, like the HTC Magic, are expected to increasingly start to appear.