El33t Tip: How to maximise PS Vita’s capabilities as a movie player

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As much as I love games, movies are a great way to unwind after a hard day’s work when there’s nothing particularly compelling in my console’s disc tray. My TV is in the lounge, so I generally watch movies on a portable device when I feel like keeping my wife company while she reads in bed. The PSP was a fairly decent media player, but its 4.3-inch screen and 480×272 resolution just can’t compare to the PS Vita’s impressive 5-inch OLED screen and 960×544 resolution.

PSP vs PSV Movie

I’ve been watching movies on my Vita for a couple of weeks now and have some tips to share with those of you who aren’t too familiar with the system’s video capabilities. If you live in certain countries like the US you can rent or buy movies from the video section of the PlayStation Store and download them directly to your Vita. This is the simplest way to get supported movie files onto your system but unfortunately in South Africa we don’t have this luxury.

PS Vita Video Store

If you want to transfer movies stored on your PC to your Vita you’ll first need to download a small program called Content Manager Assistant. You can download it over here.

The next step is to make sure the movies are in the correct format before you transfer them over. The PS Vita is very finicky about which video formats it will play so you’ll want to make sure that your movie uses one of the following codecs:

  • MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC)
  • H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC)
  • MPEG-1 (MPEG Audio Layer 2)
  • MPEG-2 PS (MPEG2 Audio Layer 2, AAC LC, AC3 (Dolby Digital), LPCM)
  • MPEG-2 TS (MPEG2 Audio Layer 2)

Popular video formats like AVI, MKV, Xvid and WMV aren’t compatible with PS Vita. Furthermore, if the resolution of the movie is more than 1280×720 it will not play.

The best way to ensure that a movie is compatible with the Vita is to convert it using PC software. I use a program called ‘Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate’ that does a great job of retaining the quality of the source file while ensuring that the movie runs smoothly on Vita. Some of the program’s features include being able to add hardcoded subtitles, change the aspect ratio and preview the video before starting the conversion. There are also plenty of other video conversion programs available on the internet that can do a similar job to Xilisoft’s product.

The conversion process usually takes about an hour and a half, and the output file can be as large as 3GB. You’ll therefore need to ensure that you have enough free space on your Vita’s memory card before transferring it across using Content Manager Assistant.

Once the movie is on your Vita, a handy tip to enlarge the video if it’s bordered by black bars is to double-tap the screen. I discovered this accidentally so I don’t think it’s common knowledge yet.

Another useful tip is that you can also transfer movies from PS3 to Vita by connecting them with the handheld’s proprietary USB cable. You can even use your PS3 to remotely access videos on your PC via a media server and then transfer them across to your Vita.

If you try to transfer incompatible movie files to your PS Vita the copying process will be aborted and an error message will be displayed. However, there have been a few occasions when the file copied across perfectly and I only got an error message when I tried to play it.

One final note is that background apps (and their associated notifications) will continue to run when you’re watching a movie, so you can see which friends come online and continue to receive messages. However, you can’t take screenshots during a movie like you can with most games nor can you zoom in on a freeze frame as you can with photos.

I hope these tips enhance your movie-watching experience on PS Vita and please be sure to leave any questions you may have in the comments section.

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