Encoding Video for the PSP

If you have a PSP and aren't using its video playback capabilities other than via UMD, you're missing out on one of its best features. The PSP can basically serve as your personal wide-screen video player, which comes in quite handy for those who travel frequently. A 1GB Memory Stick Pro Duo card can hold several hours of good quality video and still have room for your music, pics, etc.

The only problem with this is that the PSP is very finicky with regard to MP4 files. It'll balk on image sizes, frame rates, bit rates, file names, file locations, and just about anything else you can think of. And to top it all off, each firmware release for the PSP seems to handle things differently. But then again, I suppose if it were a simple standard process that remained consistent, Sony wouldn't be able to market and sell software to manage this process for you (a.k.a. PSP Media Manager).

Since this has been an issue from day one with the PSP, there is a ton of freeware, donateware, trialware, and "pay me rather than Sony-ware" out there to manage this process. Below are some of the freeware programs I've tested:

  • PSP Video Express is the “lite” version of PSP Movie Creator, by PQDVD. I was pretty impressed with this one. Straight forward user interface, estimates output file size relatively accurately, supports many formats, provides a preview window & player, processes incredibly fast, and manages the file naming and transfer process too. The paid version provides a few other capabilities such as cropping and direct from DVD encoding. I should mention that the software has crashed on me a few times, but after dozens of files those instances seem to be anomalies.
  • SUPER is a freeware video conversion program with an impressive list of purported capabilities. Unfortunately, after several attempts I was unsuccessful at getting a single file converted where the audio & video were synchronized properly. It does state right on their homepage, however, that it is merely a GUI interface for several other freeware encoders that actually do the processing (in the case of PSP/MP4 it uses FFMPEG).
  • PSP Video 9 is another freeware conversion and management program based on the FFMPEG engine; this one however, worked almost flawlessly. In my opinion the GUI isn't as user-friendly as PSP Video Express, but it also supports many formats, processes fast, and manages the file naming & transfer process for you. Additionally, it supports VOB files ripped from DVD. Probably my only real complaint with this program is that there is no playback or preview window. Based on info from their Website though, it does appear they are currently developing a new version, so that may change.

There's really no reason to pay for software to encode video for the PSP; PSP Video Express and PSP Video 9 are both more than sufficient in my opinion. As with all freeware though, it’s try at your own risk. Make sure you've got a recent backup and/or restore point on your test system and have your security and spyware software up-to-date. Even better, try it on a "disposable" system first.

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