Q: I would like to use a 60GB iPod to run a short video clip through a projector at a board meeting. Am I able to do this? Can I get audio and video out of the iPod and into the projector and speakers? If so, what is the best way to get the video into the iPod?
A: Great question, Nancy. I just wrote an article on handheld devices in the March issue and I hadn't thought of this angle, using an iPod or other hand held device for the boardroom. Everything you want to do is possible. Let's break it down, for both an iPod and for other handheld devices.
One major difference between the new iPod Video and a majority of other handheld devices is the lack of removable storage. Most devices come with both internal storage (either a hard drive or flash memory) and a memory card slot. With memory cards as big as 2GB (and getting larger), an internal hard drive is becoming less important.
If your device has removable storage, manufacturers such as Neuros make small, affordable, set-top devices that will record from any video source, such as a VCR or TiVo, directly to a memory card. But the iPod Video does not have removable storage, so let's look at our compression possibilities.
For the iPod, you need to compress your video into either an MPEG-4 or H.264 file (file extensions include .m4v, .mp4 and .mov). The easiest way to do this, on either a Mac or a PC, is with a $30 investment in QuickTime Pro. Open your copy of QuickTime Player, choose Edit>Preferences>Register, click the Buy QuickTime Pro button and follow the purchasing instructions.
With QuickTime Pro 7 installed, select File>Open File and open your .mov file (it's best if your movie is saved as a full frame, full motion, QuickTime .mov file, which is easily done with most editing software). Now choose File>Export. Under the Export pull-down menu, choose Movie to iPod (320×240). Remember your target folder.
Once your movie is compressed, drag it from the folder you sent it to and drop it into iTunes. With your iPod plugged in via the USB cable or dock, drag the file from the iTunes Library to the iPod icon. It's that easy.
With your video in the iPod, you are now portable. To get your project from iPod to a projector (or any other viewing device, for that matter), you'll need an A/V (audio/video) cable. If looking professional is important, or you just really like the color white, you can buy the Apple iPod AV Cable from Apple for $19. Otherwise, you can use a common camcorder A/V cable that has a ¼" mini plug on one end (looks almost like a standard headphone plug, except it has three plastic bands around the connector instead of two) and the red, yellow and white RCA plugs on the other end. Oddly enough, when an iPod Video is connected, the plugs are assigned differently than you'd expect them to be: the red plug is video, and the yellow plug is the right channel of audio. The white plug does keep its traditional assignment of left channel audio, though. Insert the plugs into the jacks on your output device of choice, and you are connected.
Here is the tricky step. You need to have your iPod set to send your video out. You will not be able to view your video on the iPod screen at the same time that you send it through the projector. From your iPod's main menu, choose Videos>Video Settings>TV Out>On. Now you are ready to play.
The process, though involving many steps, is easier than I made it seem here. And as long as you set your iPod for TV Out, you should be able to stroll into the boardroom, plug in your iPod and impress your coworkers.
A final note on variations from this plan: Due to both copyright protection efforts and proprietary equipment wars, I couldn't make this reply as general as I wished regarding variations in both video compression software and handheld video device hardware. I choose to pick the easiest path with the portable video device the reader inquired about. The iPod is not the only handheld video device, and QuickTime is not the only way to compress your video. Most devices will accept MPEG-4 video, and there are a number of compression software options available, not to mention the option to export MPEG-4 video straight from many editing programs.