There are dozens of video formats you can encounter online, and some of them can end up unplayable on your computer. A prime example:
The three most common video formats are probably MP4, WAV and MOV but it’s not uncommon for me to end up wanting to watch a video that’s in MKV format. MKV is known as “Matroska Video” (named after Russian nesting dolls, known in Russian as matryoshka). The format was created by a team of Russian programmers all the way back in 2002. It’s also not a compression format or codec, per se, but rather a container protocol that allows you to put other file formats “inside” the MKV file.
Which is all well and good unless your computer can’t open up the MKV file and read the video or audio contents therein. You know the drill, you double-click and after a minute or so, the video player program complains “can’t open file” or “unknown format”. Super frustrating!
Enter WinX HD Video Converter, a simple and highly effective program to convert any MKV video file into MP4 at the push of a button. If you’ve got a fast, modern computer with lots of memory, it can be astonishingly fast (10 minutes for a 2 hour video!) but even if you’re running on last year’s budget purchase, it’s still considerably faster than the 1:1 time you might expect.
To test out WinX HD Video Converter, I used it to convert a three hour MKV video. Here’s how it worked out…
To start, here’s the file I began with. Note in particular the file size:
The original file is 3.79GB in size and is in, no surprise, .mkv format.
I grabbed a copy of WinX HD Video Converter and upon launch it’s pretty darn easy to figure out how to proceed:
I simply dragged and dropped the MKV video file onto the main area of the screen and within a second or two, the program pops up a window with some options regarding target resolution and settings:
Notice the (relatively subtle) green “Recommended”. That’s what you want to use because there’s no magic here; you can’t get a 4K video from a 1K (HD = 1920×1080) source. I did decide that I wanted the very best quality by sliding the setting to HQ. I know that’s going to make the resultant file pretty huge and will slow down the conversion process, but it’s worth it, right?
A click on “OK” and it’s ready to start the conversion. Before I do, however, I check a few additional conversion settings:
To speed up the process, ensure that you choose the hardware accelerators that are available (if any). Or slow it down 🙂 by choosing “Use High Quality Engine”. Since for me it’s all about quality, I opt to check “Use High Quality Engine” too.
Ready to go? A click or tap on the big blue “RUN” button and it’s off and working…
On this older computer, it’s going to be able to run at a 2x conversion speed, so it’ll take a bit over 90min to convert 3 hours of video. Remember, this is with maximal quality settings. I later ran the same conversion but with all the preferences skewed to speed and it finished in about 45min, better than a 3x conversion. On newer hardware, I expect that would be halved or even faster.
Ignore the process and let it chug along in the background while you’re doing other things (like catching up on Stranger Things on Netflix, for example!) and eventually it’s done:
A click on “OK” and it opens up File Explorer with the output file shown. Move the cursor over the file and you’ll get the resultant file format and size:
A bit confusingly, it produced a file that’s 2x the size of the original MKV, but when I watch it I have to say it’s every bit as clear and vibrant as the original. Still, 9.28GB?
To see what would happen, I re-ran the conversion but this time specified parameters for the fastest conversion, trading quality for speed. In about 45min it finished the job (twice the speed of the best quality conversion) and the resultant output file is a far more modest 2.1GB, half the size of the original. Same image size, and the video looks quite good, with no obvious artifacting or other problems with a lower resolution conversion.
WinX HD VIdeo Converter Deluxe, regular license price $45.95, discounted price is $29.95.
Disclosure: Digiarty sent me a license for Win HD Video Converter for the purposes of this tutorial. Thanks!