The COWON iAudio 7
I know video encoding is a bit of a pain for some of you, but the pay-off is in the quality of the video on a player this small and portable. You may want to watch video on a player this small on a camping trip or commuting on a crowded train or plane. For me, it beats lugging around a laptop just to watch a video. I get most of my videos by recording off a cable box at home using Freevo or by downloading a video podcast using Rhythmbox (yes, Rhythmbox can catch video podcasts, it just can't play them).
Encoding is a two-step process that begins by using Avidemux. Avidemux is great for converting most videos codecs, and it works very well for what we're doing here too. The second step involves taking the finished video conversion to Xvid AVI using Avidemux and reprocessing it, using a tool called i7remux 0.1. This is necessary, because the iAudio 7 will play only videos made with I frames; b frames are removed by Avidemux. i7remux is a free, open-source converter made just for the iAudio 7 (see Resources for the download link).
Compiling and installation after extracting from a zip file are easy. Simply open a terminal, and type ./configure, make, then sudo make install. i7remux rearranges the internal structure of a given AVI file and rebuilds the indices. Once i7remux does this, and it does it much faster than the first encoding using Avidemux, the video is ready to be loaded into the player. It doesn't take as much time as it may seem, a one-hour show takes about 30 minutes to encode using these two processes.
First, in Avidemux, open the video file you want to encode. If it's a TV show recorded with a capture card, it will be an MPEG-2 file. Avidemux runs an indexing for the video before it's loaded for the next step. Many video podcasts, however, are m4v files and h264 codec. Avidemux will pop up a dialog box that says it has detected h264 and will use another mode to bypass B frame referencing. You don't need to use this alternate mode that loses frame accuracy, because you will be getting rid of the B frames later anyway, so choose Cancel to keep the frame accuracy.
Next, choose Xvid4 for conversion, select the Configure box, and on the Main tab, choose single pass bit rate, and change the default bit rate to 384 (Figure 2).
Next, choose the Motion & Misc tab, and uncheck all the boxes. Change the I frame interval to min 2, max 66 (the maximum interleaving time), and reduce the default amount of B frames to 0 (Figure 3).
Then, under the Quantization tab, reduce the B frame quantizer to 1 for both min and max (the lowest setting). Then, click OK, and go to the Filters box (Figure 4).
Choose MPlayer Resize, and program 4:3 for source and destination, and program width 160, height 120, and click OK. Do not click Apply. For some reason, Apply doesn't seem to function; I think it's a bug in Avidemux. Also, if you have a video recorded in 16:9 ratio, simply change the source setting to 16:9, and program a width of 160 and a height of 90. That way, the images will not be distorted (Figure 5).
Next, choose Resample FPS, enter 15.000000, and choose no linear blend (Figure 6).
For audio, choose Lame for MP3 encoding, and click Configure. The default settings should be 128kbps CBR 2 channel stereo, and if they are, don't change them. Then, under Filters, choose Resample, and set it to 44100Hz. Finally, save your project to whatever folder you want, and be sure to give it a name ending with .avi. Click OK, and Avidemux now will convert your video to xvid4. When it's done, close Avidemux, and move on to the next step.
Now, you're ready to use i7remux to finish encoding your video. This is a command-line program, so open a terminal and simply type i7remux (no need for sudo), then copy and paste the name of your video from the video created by Avidemux. Next, copy and paste again, only this time change the filename of the video by adding a random letter or number to it, then press Enter. If you don't add a letter or number, it won't let you encode. i7remux then creates the video you will load to the player when it's done; this should take about 10–20 seconds. i7remux sends it to the same folder to which Avidemux sent your video.
Next, plug in the player to any USB port, and click and drag the video you created with i7remux to the Movie folder in the player. When you navigate to Videos in the player's main menu, you should see your video. Simply highlight it, and touch the play button. You might hear only audio for a few seconds before the video shows up in the screen. If this bothers you, pause the video and start it again.