Old 25-10-2011   #1
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Best encoder/decoder setup for long battery life on netbook

Hi guys,

I need some assistance. Have been looking for the answer all over the net but couldn't really find it. What I am trying to find out is the best encoder/decoder setup for increasing the battery runtime on a netbook.

Some details:
I will be in South America for 8 weeks soon. With lots of loooooong bus rides. I'm taking my netbook to keep me entertained when the views aren't. Most of my movies are in 720p,1080i/1080p formats. My netbook will run the 720p stuff but with high CPU. Hence I want to re-encode them in a manner that will give the LONGEST battery runtime on the netbook whilst playing (I'm talking loooong bus rides!).

I'm relatively green when it comes to the advantage/disadvantages of the different encoding/decoding options which might assist here - but now appears the time to learn!

Important Criteria:
  • Increasing battery runtime
  • Acceptable picture quality for netbook screen res of 1024x600 (doesn't need to be 'best', but needs to be 'good')
  • Smaller file sizes preferred by not critical (netbook has 250GB HDD)
  • Prefer not to have my encoding PC take 4hrs to process a file when an option that gives 'similar' results only takes 1hr
Unimportant Criteria:
  • HD is not required (its only a 1024x600 screen. I am not fussed with getting every last possible bit of IQ - quite the opposite)
  • What container/codec is used (as long as it suits the information about my system below)
  • Suitability for anything else (I only plan to use these files on my netbook)

Advice desired:
  • What container/codec to use?
  • Recommended settings for such?
  • A guess at an acceptable bitrate to use would be appreciated. Otherwise I'll just use trial and error.
  • Frame rate (lower it or just use the original each time?)
  • Re-encode to 1024x600 res - or will something lower be more than acceptable when zoom to full screen?
  • Preferred program to use to achieve this (if not AVS or Handbrake)?

Thanks guys, Rojerk

Further info regarding my setup:
Software I have available for encoding:
  • AVS Video Converter
  • Handbrake
Players for the Netbook:
  • MPC-HT (normally used)
  • VLC (only if people suggest this is more battery efficient than MPC-HT)
Codecs, etc:
  • I use SAFv4 (which has been put together for MediaPortal and comes with the usuals (ffd etc) - I use MediaPortal + SAFv4 on my 2 HTPCs)
  • CoreAVC (I also have this. V2 I think. I got it to try on the HTPCs but ended up using GPU DXVA so never bothered with CoreAVC)
Netbook specs:
  • Samsung NC210
  • Resolution: 1024 x 600 (10.1")
  • Processor: Intel® Atom N570 Dual core Processor(1.66GHz)
  • Memory: 2GB DDR3
  • Chipset: Intel® MN10
  • Graphics: Intel® GMA3150
  • OS: Genuine Windows 7 Starter
Encoding machine:
  • Desktop running XP pro with 4GB, quadcore (Q8400).
Extra info:
  • The following spec detail may/may not be useful: "GMA3150 graphics core integrated into the new generation Atom processors supports hardware video decoding only for MPEG-2 format."
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Old 25-10-2011   #2
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Re: Best encoder/decoder setup for long battery life on netbook

720p and 1080p are square pixel formats, so you should reduce their size in proportion. 1920 x 1080 could be reduced to something like 960 x 540 or 640 x 360. Same holds for the 1280 x 720 resolutions seen in your 720p files. Since HD is not a priority, I'd go for the 640 x 360 resolution when reencoding.

You should test playback with this resolution in your netbook first. Don't know how much help CoreAVC will be on a netbook...never been in a position to try it.

H264 in an mp4 or mkv file would give you smaller files, but takes more processing power to play correctly. AAC or AC3 audio would work. Try this in Handbrake with a constant quality encode set at 20. You can also set Handbrake to crop the black bars.

You could also try the xvid codec in an avi container, which would be easier to playback but would result in larger sized files. And Handbrake no longer does xvid or avi's, so you'd have to try a different encoder.
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Old 29-10-2011   #3
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Kerry56, thanks for your advice. Best solution thought was to use the inbuilt MPEG-2 DXVA functionality of the GMA3150 built in graphics.

After a lot of mucking around chasing the slivers of info on the web that indicated that MPC-HC could do (inbuilt) MPEG-2 DXVA (the GMA3150 does support MPEG2_VLD (bitstream)), then trying to create media/graphs to work with the inbuilt Win 7 MPEG-2 decoder (Microsoft MPEG-2 Video Decoder) , then onto thinking about using the PowerDVD MPEG2 decoder or the Elecard Mpeg-2 Video Decoder (supports DXVA apparently), I decided to give up.

Installed Daum POTPlayer, fired it up, read this config recommendations for DXVA , changed a couple ('Use DXVA without rendering mode' breaks DXVA), and then had DXVA working within 20 minutes! Happy days.

Another config recommendation guide for DXVA in POTPlayer here

CPU is now down around <10% with acceptable quality (MPEG-2, 1024x600, 2000kbps, 24fps).
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Old 29-10-2011   #4
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Re: Best encoder/decoder setup for long battery life on netbook

Well, glad you found a solution to your liking, but 1024 x 600 mpeg2 video at 2000kbps is going to look really crappy. Good thing you have a small screen. What are you using to convert to that oddball size?
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Old 30-10-2011   #5
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2000kbps is just 'acceptable' but I wont go with it. Just encoding a couple of 3000kbps files at the moment to see if thats going to be enough.

I use AVS Video Converter. It will retain the original aspect ratio and just letterbox the output file to suit the desired frame size of 1024 x 600. Surprisingly 1024x600 is pretty close to 16:9.
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