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Top 6 Video Formats in 2020 - How to Choose the Best Video Format?

Author by Michelle

Aug 8th, 2020

Finding an appropriate video file format out of the dozens of dazzling video formats is not an easy job, especially when you have little knowledge of them. But if you know what you want to use them for, you can find your best video format most conveniently here. Just keep on reading!

Part 1. What is A Video Format?

A video format is a type of file format that stores digital video data. You could refer the video format as the video file’s container (but not that quite) that serves as a package to contain video, audio, subtitles, images, metadata and more. And the video and audio data can encoded with specified codecs (The codecs are to work behind scenes - to encode/compress and decode/decompress multiple data files). Try to think the video format or the container as a blender’s container, the codec as the blade cutter, and the video file as the fruit or vegetable. You’ll see the codec is to process the video file, and video format or the container is to hold the file and codec inside.

There are many video formats and codecs out there just like the blender containers and blade cutters made of different materials. Most are now obsolete, quite a few are still robust. And you are to learn the 6 most popular video formats listed in Part 2 with their strengths and weaknesses exposed before finding out your best video file format.

Part 2. 6 Best Video Formats Explained

Take a look at the concise information about each video format and their frequent usages 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 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 supported. 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 most 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 the 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?

Though there are various video formats, none can claim to be the single best, and not a one-size-fits-all type exists but different ones for different purposes. That means any video format can be the best for you depending on whether you are going to use it for streaming/distributing, storing, recording, or other activities.

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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