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Top 6 Video Formats - How to Choose the Best Video Format?

Author by Michelle

Updated on Jul 28, 2023

Finding the right video file format among so many video formats is not an easy task, especially when you don't know much about them. But don't worry. In this article, we provide the most common video formats and show you what they are best for. Keep reading to find the best video format for you!

Part 1. What is A Video Format?

A video format is a container format that can contain video, audio, subtitles, images, metadata, and more. But don't confuse it with a codec format, which is software that encodes video and audio data. You can try to think of video formats as containers for blenders, codecs as blade cutters, and video files as fruits or vegetables. You'll see that codecs are what deal with video files, and video formats are what hold files and codecs inside.

There are many video formats and codecs out there. Most are now obsolete, and quite a few are still popular. Here, you'll learn about the 6 most popular video formats and their pros and cons. Hope you can find the best video file format for you here.

Part 2. 6 Best Video Formats Explained

Take a look at each video format below and decide which is the best video file format for you.

Also read: MKV vs MP4 l AVCHD vs MP4 l H.265 vs H.264 l MP4 vs WMV l MOV vs MP4

MP4 - The Universal Video Format

MP4 - The Universal Video Format for Streaming and Storing

MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is the most commonly used video container format for its universal compatibility with most platforms and devices. It can use AV1, H.265, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, and MPEG-1 encoding algorithms to store video, audio, and other data such as text and still images. MP4 is an optimal choice for online streaming, and it is the best video uploading format for YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It is also a smart choice to download videos in MP4 format.

MKV - Most Featured Video Format

MKV - Most Featured Video Format for Storing

MKV (Matroska Multimedia Container) is a free, open-source and future-proof format. It can be encoded by nearly every codec and comes with many extra features like multi-audio tracks and multi-subtitles support. But the downside is that it is not compatible with many programs. If you want to collect and have a versatile experience viewing your video through VLC or other MKV players, MKV is an ideal choice.

MOV - Best Quality Video Format

MOV - Best Quality Video Format for Storing in iOS Devices

Developed by Apple, MOV (QuickTime Movie) is often used to store high-quality videos but with a relatively larger size. It supports many codecs but works mainly on a Quicktime player. Though it has relatively poor compatibility, it is the best quality video format for you to archive and watch videos on iOS devices.

AVCHD - Highest Quality Video Format

AVCHD - Highest Quality Video Format for Recording

Developed jointly by Sony and Panasonic, AVCHD is a format specifically designed for digital camcorders. And it is used to record high-definition videos of small size with its H.264 encoder. This format is perfect for people who love to do footage-shooting.

AVI - Classic Video Container Format

AVI - Classic Video Container Format for Storing

AVI (Audio Video Interleave) is one of the oldest video formats and it has now passed its golden time but leaves a huge legacy over the Internet. It also supports nearly all video codecs and is compatible with many programs. The complaint about this video container format is that it can hold the highest quality video but of large size. Yet it is still a fine option to store movies on a computer.

WebM - Video Format for Streaming

WebM - Video Format for Streaming

Sponsored by Google, WebM is intended to be the file format used in the HTML5 video. The file stored in WebM offers a fair-quality video of small size for easy broadcasting, which makes it the perfect format for people to stream their content on HTML5 video streaming websites.

Part 3. How to Choose the Best Video Format?

Despite the variety of video formats, there is no one-size-fits-all type, but rather different types for different purposes. This means that any video format may work for you, depending on whether you intend to use it for streaming/distribution, storage, recording or other purposes.

In conclusion, if you want to store your video in high quality, MP4 and MKV are your wanted formats.

If you want your video to be viewed online, MP4 and WebM are your prime choices.

And if you want to record video in high efficiency, AVCHD is your best bet.

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