Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of customers that want to share their slideshows with friends, family, or clients via USB flash drives. Technically, this has always been possible to do, but some questions keep popping up: “What video format should I choose?”, or occasionally “Where did my file get saved and how do I move it to my USB drive?” With ProShow 8, we’ve introduced a simple feature that we hope will eliminate any uncertainty for users.
The USB Flash Drive output in version 8 is a simplified version of the “Video for Web, Devices, and Computers” output window. The main differences are a) it requires that you choose a USB drive prior to creating, and b) the only video presets available are ones that should be compatible with most devices.
Speaking of devices, this feature is ideal for those who have Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, modern video game consoles, or media streaming boxes with USB ports. With very few exceptions, all of these devices should detect the video on your USB stick upon inserting it, and should then prompt you to play the video. Of course, the USB Flash Drive output option in ProShow can be just as useful if you’re giving it to someone to play it on their computer.
Formats & Quality
For most modern devices, the default presets – “1080p” for Resolution and “30fps High Quality” for Quality – are going to be a safe bet. There are other settings to choose if you’d like to customize a little bit. If you’re in a pinch and need your video to be rendered quickly, choosing either 720p or 480p should expedite the process while trading off some sharpness in the resultant video.
There are also 60fps (fps is short for frames per second) options under the Quality drop-down list. Choosing 60fps makes the motion in your shows extremely fluid and life-like. TVs, Blu-ray players, and games consoles from the past 3-4 years will likely play these files, but it’s not always a guarantee. Effectively, this option is worth choosing if you have tested to make sure the files are supported and play back without stuttering. Otherwise, stick to the default 30fps options.
Lastly, a note about the “Extreme Quality” presets: these are more for archival purposes rather than playing back on a particular device. The videos will most likely play just fine, but the file size may be very large and the quality difference may be imperceptible . Then again, if you want to make a ‘master’ file to archive to USB in the event that you later need to convert or edit in another program, it might be helpful to choose an Extreme Quality preset.
Many, if not most, USB drives come pre-formatted in the FAT32 file system. This ensures native compatibility between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. However, FAT32 has a very critical downside. It cannot store single files that are larger than 4GB.
If you aren’t concerned with using your USB drive across different operating systems, it may be a good idea to format it in NTFS so that you can support very large files. You can find a tutorial on how to do this here. Please note that formatting will inherently erase all existing data on the drive, so please back up your files to another drive before attempting this.
Another thing to consider is the overall storage size of your USB drive. ProShow will create video files that vary in size based on how visually complex your shows are. You may end up with a very large file without even knowing it. It’s recommended to use USB flash drives that are 8GB or larger (and have sufficient free space), especially considering that 32GB and 64GB are extremely affordable at the moment. If you can spring for a faster USB 3.0 drive, all the better.
The USB Flash Drive output feature aims to strip back all clutter in the process of creating a universally-compatible video file that you can easily play on modern devices. Hopefully it saves you some time, effort, and uncertainty.
- Some Sony game consoles, Blu-ray players, and TVs may require that your videos are contained in a “VIDEO” subfolder for them to be automatically recognized. If you find that you’re not getting a prompt to play your videos or that the drive is showing as empty, create a folder named “VIDEO” on your USB drive and move any .mp4 files into it.
- Older TVs – those not considered “Smart TVs” – may use their USB ports for viewing images only. Check the user manual for your TV to make sure it can play MPEG-4/MP4 video files, and also check to see if it has any limitations for supported video, like resolution (e.g. 1080p, 720p) or frame rate (e.g. 30fps).
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