Ask LH: iPad Video Converter

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking for a good, free and fast way to put .avi on an iPad. With formatting or without. Could you help me out?

There are two ways to get video on to an iPad. You can either convert your files into an iTunes-friendly format, add them to iTunes and sync them to your iPad or you can look for an app that does native playback of .avi files without the need for conversion.

If you like the idea of having everything in iTunes - which is practically a must of you've bought into the entire Apple-verse and have an Apple TV and multiple iOS devices - then you'll need some sort of conversion tool. The two I've used most often are Smart Converter [App Store link or direct website link]and ViddyUp. Both provide drag and drop conversion on the Mac and are dead easy to use.

However, if you prefer to skip the conversion step, then FlexPlayer [iTunes Store]lets you drag .avi files straight to the iPad for conversion-free playback. There are some other tools out there like GoodPlayer and CineXPlayer but they're not free.

Cheers Lifehacker

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send an email to [email protected], and include ‘Ask Lifehacker’ in the subject line.


    I'm surprised you neglected to include Handbrake into this list?

      +1 for handbrake here too. Lifehacker seems to be neglecting obvious choices a bit lately.

    just get buzz hd.. its only about $5... can copy files, stream them in heaps of formats and you dont even need to connect to itunes.

      I use "Buzz Player" for iPod Touch.. works great.. so I assume Buzz HD is simply the iPad version of this. The only thing that would make this better is some form of audio decoder/switcher to play SRS Surround through headphones or something like that.. some kind of EQ or similar.

    Spend a couple of $ on "avplayer HD" it plays avi files natively, has variable speed to shave time off virewing. At 1.2 times I can whip thru an hour show - say 43 mins in just over 30 mins, great when I want to watch 2 shows while waiting for my daughters swimming class. It also has swipe gestures for jumping fiwardcand back 10 secs (configurable) and other additional gestures can be set one of thebest things is this app transfers files wirelessly. You can push files via http from any web browser. Or use the inbuilt interface to pull files via FTP. ( originating machine. Needs a FTP server try golden FTP it's free and simple). Nothing like loading up my iPad from the comfort of my lounge chair :) love this app so much I grabbed the iPhone version also :)

    Hi Ryan,

    I agree with you. I use handbrake all the time. Its' free, it works and you have a good quality all the time. I convert all my series without problems, and even though I play them back using airvideo on my apple TV, I tend to convert them anyway as they shrink a lot compared to full quality mkv (aroung 6 to 8 Gb in mkv compared to 2 Gb maxi), and the playback is smoother on the Apple TV.

    what about 'its playing'? you guys featured it on the app roundup, all you do is drag and drop into it, its brilliant!

    Freemake Video Converter is another great convertion tool. As the name says, its free. It's also great for simpletons like me to operate

    iFlicks is the best in my opinion (mac only - payware with 30 day free trial). It is drag and drop (various apple profiles i.e. ipad, apple tv etc) and it also adds all metadata (description, cover art etc) then imports into iTunes. Very elegant and easy to use solution :-)

    In the past I've used AirVideo. It's not free, but it makes streaming easy. Install the server, run the iPad app. They find each other and you can browse and stream videos on the fly.

    For converting, I use FormatFactory. It's free and is built on ffmpeg so it can convert dozens of formats into any other format (even JPEG to video!). Just pick "All to Mobile Device", select your videos and it'll convert them, ready to throw into iTunes.

    If you're looking for a standard video player, VLC for iPad works wonders. Apparently it got pulled from the store earlier this year, but if you can find it (Installous or somewhere else maybe?) then you can just drop files in via iTunes and go.

    If your not fussed about having the actual videos on your iPad and have a home Wifi network then Air Video is the best option, its $2.99 on the app store but for me the app is well worth the money because you dont have to keep syncing your iPad every time you want a new video on it and it converts while you watch the video.

    I suppose the only drawback is that you need to download a server program for your PC/ Mac but a plus is that you can password protect the server so someone else with an iPad and the app cant view your video folder.

    Get avplayerhd on the app store.. Drag and drop, no conversion required :)

    If you set up a Plex Media Server instance on a host Mac, it can transcode and stream .AVI files to your iPad in real time (you have to buy the Plex app too). Obviously it requires you to be online but it's an easy solution for watching around the house without having to sync files back and forth.

    Im an AirVideo user,,, the big feature i got it for was so i dont have to store anything on my phone itself... easy streaming, comes with its own converter and even converts on the fly.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now