Being able to enjoy video on the move - from home movies and TV programmes to film trailers and YouTube favourites - is becoming an increasingly popular pastime. Mobile phone handsets are increasingly pursuing this trend, and handheld games consoles really lend themselves to the concept, thanks to their decent screen sizes and resolutions.
Portable media players (PMPs), on the contrary, have slimmed down. Once the obvious device for viewing video on the move, PMPs were always picky about the video formats they supported. These days, most players will work with versions of Mpeg4, WMV, H.264 and QuickTime.
For YouTube and iPlayer fans, this is excellent news. Such has been the success of on-demand TV and radio services that portable devices are emerging that are able to work directly with them. You'll find a list of compatible devices at tinyurl.com/4ef3je.
Archos, Sony and Creative players have all been approved for use with iPlayer, and being able to watch TV programmes on these devices at your leisure is a more satisfactory and less expensive option than, for example, streaming content over a 3G network to a laptop in a hotel room.
We tried the BBC iPlayer service on Nokia's N96, but it works equally well with video MP3 players. And you need only download a programme once to enjoy it on any compatible portable device.
Some restrictions remain, however. Digital rights management (DRM) protects most of the TV programmes. Downloaded content expires after 30 days, but can be viewed as much as you like during this time period.
We'll also explain how to use free software to convert other types of video for use on your portable player.
Transfer video to a portable media player
1. Format compatibility is the main barrier to enjoying video on a portable player - many devices still insist on encoding it to a particular format. The free Any-Video Converter will allow you to convert content to a file type compatible with your device.
2. Once you've downloaded the file, double-click the Any Video Converter icon on your desktop and select ‘Run' to install the software. On launching the program you'll be prompted to pick a video clip to convert. Click Add Video in the top lefthand corner and browse to your chosen clip on your hard drive.