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What You Should Know About MP4

MP4 Quick Intro

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:34 am

These days you often come across  MP4 videos.

MP4 is popularly used in smartphone videos. Where streaming video download is available, the MP4 option is always provided. 

Most HDTVs support video playback in MP4.  

MP4 should not be confused with MPEG-4.

MPEG-4, also known as MPEG-4 Part 14, is a codec that allows audio-visual content to be prepared in various qualities for different types of devices.

MP4, on the other hand, is a container format as will be explained below.

MP4 Versatility

MP4 was first introduced in 1998 and became popular around  2001.

The versatile MP4 format could be played on a variety of devices from computers, mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, and even HDTVs.

The compression quality offered by MP4 makes it ideal for video streaming.

Apple calls MP4 a global multimedia standard. They recognize it as capable of “delivering professional-quality audio and video streams over a wide range of bandwidths, from cell phone to broadband and beyond.”

What this means is you get to fill up your hard disk or pen drive with more high-quality videos than if you’re using a compression format like MPEG2.

Versatile Container Format

It’s a versatile container or wrapper format which allows for the storing of video codecs, audio, subtitles,  images, 3D graphics, menus, and user interactivity features.

In some circles, it is called MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding).

No Noticeable Quality Loss

The greatest strength of MP4 is it allows for video files to be highly compressed without noticeable loss of quality. Let’s put it this way:  MP4 compression provides video of DVD quality but with very much smaller files sizes, thus saving you storage. Movies with MP4 encoding are usually offered as Xvid or DivX.

But an MP4 file doesn’t only carry video. It can be a purely audio file. For example, audio downloads from the iTunes Store have an  MP4 option.

When all the different AV data are combined in the MPEG-4 container, the resultant file comes with a .mp4 extension.

This is not always so. Sometimes the files can come with the .mp4a when it has audio content or .mp4v when there’s video.

Apple devices play MP4 files compressed with H.264 format up to 4K resolution.  Android devices support MP4 video compressed with H264 AVC (Android 3.0 and higher) and H.265 HEVC (Android 5.0 and higher).

If you want your video to play on a wide range of devices – HDTV, Smartphone, portable media player, computer, TV box, and so on, you should opt to convert or download it in the MP4 format.

MP4 may also contain other competing formats like Ogg, VOB, RatDVD, DivX media format, and Matroska (MKV).

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