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iPad Supported Video Formats

The 9.7-inch high-resolution screen makes iPad perfect for watching video, but that doesn’t mean that every type of video file will play on your iPad. Check the Apple’s choice iPad video formats below for the new tablet.

iPad Supported Video Formats

  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats;
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats;
  • Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format

The iPad will play back videos encoded using either the MPEG-4 or H.264 codecs. These are open-standard video formats, and not in any way proprietary to Apple, but at the same time do not represent a broad portion of the video content that is currently available outside of the iTunes Store.

Appleā€™s likely reason for these particular choices of codec is that they are an open, established standard, and they both provide a very high level of video and audio quality for a given file size. MPEG-4 has historically been very good in this regard to begin with, and the H.264 codec has only improved on the quality and file size efficiency.

As one would expect, when developing a portable video playback device, the quality-to-size ratio is very important both in terms of maximizing the amount of content that can fit on the more limited storage of a portable device, as well as maximizing the battery life of the device, as larger content can require additional processing power, thus shortening battery life. The H.264 codec appears to have been a natural fit to address both requirements, as well as providing a stable, open standard for Apple to use for their preferred video format.

Content on the iTunes Store uses the H.264 codec exclusively. Content you encode yourself can be encoded into either H.264 or MPEG-4, although H.264 will generally provide better quality for a given file-size, it also takes longer to encode.

The limited content available on the iTunes Store, and the limited availability of it outside of the U.S. meant that many iPad owners immediately turned to converting their own videos or DVDs into a format suitable for playing on their iPad, and a plethora of utilities became available to automate this process.

For more details, check the complete guide to iPad Video Formats here.