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Play any video on any device with the best free video converters

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

What good is having a super-compressed MPEG4 video if you can’t watch it on whatever device you choose? Sure, that movie may look phenomenal in high-definition on your desktop — especially if you’ve opted for one of the best 4K monitors available — but it can be a pain to watch on your home console, tablet, or smartphone. Luckily, quality video converters have been around for several years, allowing users to convert their precious video footage into a number of desirable formats. Best of all, most of them are completely free.

Most video converters require the user to upload their files and select an appropriate output setting before choosing a save location within their computer’s directory. The best pieces of software, however, also pave the way with intuitive features, consistent updates, and a large toolbox of options.

Below are our picks for the best free video converters, so you can free yourself from the ball-and-chain formats of yesteryear and convert video so that it’s playable on practically any device you choose. When you’re done, be sure to check out our picks for the best media players and the best free video-editing software.

Any Video Converter (Windows/MacOS)

Any Video Converter (AVC) is a fantastic piece of freeware that can handle conversions to everything from DivX and MPEG4, to VOB, and more than 60 other input formats (including 4K) all within an attractive and minimalist interface. The software also features user-defined video outputs, as well as batch processing for converting multiple files simultaneously, and saves all converted video to a pre-designated folder for quick access and organization.

AVC can directly extract and convert audio from any given video into a limited number of formats, including MP3, AAC, WAVE, and others. Plus, the program allows you to download and convert YouTube and Google videos by simply pasting the specified video link into the download box and clicking a few buttons.

Although conversion speeds leave something to be desired, and the built-in DVD burner is a bit finicky, the resulting video quality is excellent, especially when paired with the barebones editor that allows you to trim, crop, and layer video effects for a more hands-on approach.

Freemake Video Converter (Windows)

Freemake is one of the best free video converters available today. Not only does it support more than 500 different video formats, it also allows you to download videos directly from most social media platforms and various video-sharing sites. It supports plenty of devices, too, allowing for quick and intuitive transfers, not to mention options for 4K resolution.

There are also plenty of tools for cutting and rotating videos, embedding and converting them with subtitles, and carrying out a host of other useful actions. Plus, the software features one of the friendliest interfaces we’ve seen.

While Freemake does a lot right, there are a couple things you should know. First, you’ll need the .NET Framework 4.0 Client Profile to successfully download the software — Freemake isn’t the only one with such Client Profile requirements, so it’s always smart to double-check this. You’ll want to check for updates with this one, as Freemake is regularly updated to patch problems and add new format options.

DivX Video Converter (Windows/MacOS)

best free video converters divxconverter01

The DivX video converter has a lot of useful, built-in options for inputs and outputs, along with editing tools for tweaking the videos you’re looking to convert. Although the software is a little pushy in trying to drive you toward upgrading to the premium version, the free one works rather well. The interface is clean, too, and gives you deep options for outputs.

When adding files, you can do so from a local drive, or import them directly from Blu-ray discs. The software also supports Google Drive and DropBox, for those looking to edit files that are stored remotely. An assortment of output profiles provide a number of predefined options, and you can further customize the resulting file if you prefer — there are options for selecting the resolution, altering the aspect ratio, and changing the bit rate, among others.

With support for both Windows and Mac operating systems, DivX is one of the more well-rounded converters on our list.

Handbrake (Windows/MacOS)


Handbrake seemed on its last legs back in ’06 when the software’s initial creator, Eric Petit, seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth. However, software development carried on with the help of a few ambitious folk who were driven to update and revise the existing software for a changing world.

The open-source video converter now boasts one of the most expansive software packages for ripping and converting video files for playback on a number of popular devices, including iPhones, the AppleTV, and Android tablets. The interface is sleek and well-designed, with plenty of menu tabs for advanced features, all housed within traditional UI that anyone familiar with Windows or MacOS will be able to understand.

Handbrake also doesn’t feature any ads or bundled adware, though, the Mac iteration of the software was under attack earlier this year. Conversion speeds can also drag, and the software certainly isn’t light on system resources. Other noteworthy features include an abundance of video-editing tools for splicing, adjusting frame rate, and adding subtitles and assorted video effects. You can even view the results in a live preview window before they officially take effect.

Handbrake can’t be topped when it comes to converting files to MP4 or MKV format, but, unfortunately, it also isn’t for those unwilling to learn the software.

MediaCoder (Windows/MacOS/Linux)


MediaCoder is a capable program loaded with terrific conversion features, if you’re willing to delve headfirst into the software. Whether you want to batch process a number of AVI files to MPEG, or compress files for a reduced memory footprint, MediaCoder can handle it (albeit with a throwback design). The software supports QuickSync, NVENC, and CUDA encoding for high-speed work, and can rip multiple types of video from cameras.

You can find additional settings for modifying the output — including those for converting video to grayscale and quarter-pixel —  as well as bitrate adjustments for both the audio and video components of your file. Speed and quality are top-notch, allowing for quick conversions with an emphasis on maintaining the original quality across formats.

MediaCoder is an exceptional piece of software, but it’s geared more toward the tech aficionado as opposed to the first-time user trying to make a zippy conversion.

A word of warning, however: The download page for the software is covered with phoney “download” buttons, so take care to click the correct one.

Convertilla (Windows)


Convertilla is a simple app that’s designed for more casual users. While many of our other picks favor more professional interfaces and options, if you only want a simple converter for a few basic tasks, this one will probably give you the least trouble. It doesn’t cover many formats, but you can still use MP4, FLV, MKV, MPG, AVI, AAC, WEBM, WMV, WAV, and several other of the more popular formats, which renders the software ideal for casual users. Simply specify video size and quality, and you’re good to go.

The software’s interface also includes a number of “gadget” icons, allowing you to quickly find the appropriate file format for devices like the PSP, iPhone, and various Android offerings. Convertilla also supports integration with the Internet Download Accelerator, giving you a means for automating the conversion of common downloads (ideal for mobile or cross-platform work, among other things). We also like that development has kept up with the latest versions of Windows — most free competitors tend to lag behind when it comes to OS compatibility.

Cloud Convert (web-based)

Cloud Convert

Not everyone wants to download a standalone application to fulfil their converting needs. Thankfully, Cloud Convert is one of the best online tools for simple downloads and conversion. The web-based software currently handles 214 different formats that go far beyond video (including docs, images, ebooks, and more). Batch converting and folder monitoring are included, and the API allows you to plug these abilities into a number of applications if you already have a preferred video/audio software hub.

The entire conversion process takes place in the cloud and output settings — like aspect ratio, codec, bit rate, and resolution — can also be tweaked from the app’s web interface prior to conversion. Cloud Convert will even automatically email you or drop the resulting file in your Google Drive or Dropbox account in lieu of saving it to your computer.

The software lacks the speed of standalone programs, but it’s more than proficient in converting a range of files without ever deviating from the smooth interface and easily-navigable design that have made the software one of the best available.

Online-Convert (web-based)

Online Convert

Online-Convert is one of the most robust converters currently available. The software’s streamlined homepage makes the available conversion options immediately apparent, providing you with a slew of tools for converting video, audio, images, documents, ebooks, and other files. The video component of the site also houses options for converting files to FLV, MP4, MOV, and more than 20 other popular formats (including multiple game consoles). There are even additional options for changing the resulting screen size, audio quality, bit rate, and other minor components.

If you aren’t sure about a conversion, you can also use the search function in the upper-right corner of the page to quickly check if Online-Convert is capable of making your desired conversion. If it’s not, the developers invite you to write in with conversion suggestions they may be able to implement in the future.

While most users will experience little trouble uploading and converting video files, the site does require you to opt for a premium membership if you need to upload a file larger than 100MB or simultaneously convert four files at once. Nonetheless, the site is stable, relatively devoid of ads, and provides a wide variety of format options without requiring you to download additional software or unwanted browser extensions.

***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

Digital Trends is a leading consumer technology publisher helping people navigate an increasingly digital world. With easy-to-understand product reviews, entertaining news and videos, Digital Trends serves more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Digital Trends reaches 90 million tech influencers through their own media network, and its syndicate partners include Yahoo!, FOX News and more than 200 broadcast news stations. Digital Trends is headquartered in Portland, OR with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago.



Keep warm and cozy this winter with the best base layers

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Base layers are truly the unsung heroes of outdoor apparel. Although tucked away under layers of fancy Gore-Tex and Primaloft, these hidden soldiers play a critical role in trapping and regulating heat next to your skin while wicking sweat and other moisture to keep you warm and dry. Sometimes referred to as thermal underwear or longjohns, the inner layers take on multiple forms: Merino and other wools, silk, fleece, bamboo, and synthetic blends — basically anything except cotton.

They also come in varying thicknesses depending on the level of activity planned and how cold temperatures might be. Base layers feature differing necks, cuffs, and waistlines with choices including zip-up collars, scoop necks, V necks, button-up tops, elastic waists, leggings or tights-style bottoms, fleece linings, and ribbed or waffle-grid patterning options. Whatever your personal preference, you want high-quality materials and premium technology to prevent you from getting cold. Here is a list of the best base layers to add to your outdoor gear closet this winter.

best base layers ibex woolies 1 crew lifestyle

Ibex is an eco-rooted company who make products exclusively from merino wool. Its lightweight base layer set is soft, silky, and ultra-pliable with rib-knit style patterning that sits close to the skin. For 2017, the material was updated with a more durable nylon core wrap yarn that reinforces the fabric, extending the life of the garment while keeping it lightweight and breathable.

The top features a crew neck and fitted wrists while the legging bottoms have a gusseted crotch and wide waistband, each of which offers warmth with minimal bulk. They come in striped or solid options and are perfect for hiking, camping, running, or a host of other winter-related outdoor activities.

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best base layers arcteryx rho lifestyle

Arc’teryx’s Rho AR top and bottom set features ultra-comfy Polartec Power Stretch made of 90 percent polyester and ten percent elastane. The blend offers stretchiness and flexibility that lets you move around without feeling constricted by tight-fitting gear. Its insulated material is exceptionally moisture-resistant, shedding sweat and odor while offering supreme breathability. A mid-weight set, it’s extremely warm yet lightweight and bulk-free.

Arc’teryx includes a flatlock construction with a soft, plush inner material that clings to your body, enhancing the thermal efficiency by staying in constant contact with your skin. The top piece features a laminated chest pocket and zip-up collar to offer ventilation while the bottom piece has a wide waistband and handy thigh pocket. These machine-washable base layers are a great choice for moderate winter outdoor activities where you aren’t working aggressively and need extra thickness to stay warm.

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best base layers patagonia capilene thermal one piece lifestyle

This fantastically cozy thermal onesie is made from Polartec Power Grid — a smooth, static-free material that’s warm, breathable, and ultra moisture-wicking. The snuggly fabric is stretchy and custom-fitting with Polygiene to assist with odor control. It showcases boatloads of anti-chafe features including flatlock seams, offset shoulder seams (to reduce rubbing at the backpack straps), and gusseted areas on the underarms and crotch. The snug hood is thin enough to fit under your helmet, making the garment Patagonia’s warmest polyester base layer and an ideal choice for skiing.

Possibly the coolest feature of this one-piece is that it offers easy access without compromising its heat-trapping properties. For example, the suit features a wrap-around waist zipper so you can use the bathroom without completely undressing. Additionally, the men’s version features a functional fly and the women’s a pony-tail exit so ladies can let their locks hang out.

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best base layers copyright forest woodward 1 2017 6 2018

This technical base layer set by Outdoor Research — which includes the Sequence long-sleeve for men and the Essence long-sleeve for women — is constructed with moisture-wicking Drirelease merino wool and treated with odor-blasting FreshGuard. The industry-leading material uses a mineral-infused technology that blends hydrophobic and hydrophilic fibers to absorb sweat and dissipate heat. Its breathable fabric dries four times faster than regular wool while providing greater thermal insulation. The tops boast quarter-length front zippers for added ventilation and the tights have elastic waistbands for a snug, comfy fit.

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Outdoor Research

best base layers fjallraven bergtagen woolmesh lifestyle

This is without a doubt one of the best all-sport base layer sets ever made. The technical top boasts three different styles of knits in one sleek sweater to deliver versatility regardless of what you’re doing. Not only that, it adjusts to varying conditions and activity levels even within one sport, depending on how hard you’re working. With a multifunctional body-mapping design, it boasts a warm, high-loft wool terry over the shoulders, chest, and upper arms while cool ventilating wool mesh covers the sleeves, side panels, and lower torso.

Flatlock seams cut down the chafing factor and the cuff, neck, and lower sides are rib-knitted. The Mulesing-free synthetic merino fibers are durable, breathable, and uber-warm, even when damp. The same body-mapping adorns the long john bottoms with mesh around the front and back of the thighs. Rib-knitting covers the lower legs with a loop-structure elastic waistband for comfort.

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Editors’ Recommendations

***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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Criminals, take cover: ‘The Punisher’ is coming back to Netflix for season 2

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Less than a month after the Netflix debut of The Punisher season 1, it has officially been confirmed that the series will be getting a second season.

The news was broken on social media by the official Twitter and Facebook accounts for The Punisher.

As with these early teases, little was revealed other than the fact that season two confirmed — there’s no word on when it’s expected to drop. The animated teaser provides zero clues as to where we might see the next arc take the character.

The series stars Josh Bernthal as Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, an former U.S. Marine who violently dispatches his enemies and criminals with tactical precision. The character originally debuted in season 2 of Daredevil, where audiences were first introduced to Castle’s vigilante quest aimed at avenging the deaths of his family members. The first season of his own series saw the anti-hero uncovering a bigger, much more sinister conspiracy that reached deep into the dark underbelly of the United States government and military. The series also stars Eben Moss-Bachrach as ex-National Security Agency agent Micro, who teams up with Castle, and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, who also appears in the Netflix series Daredevil, and acts as a link between The Punisher and the rest of Netflix’s little corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That corner includes the street-level heroes of The Defenders — Jessica Jones, Iron First, Luke Cage, and the aforementioned Daredevil — with whom the Punisher is at least loosely allied with. Given that these characters all live in the same city together and continually cross paths, a more concrete tea- up isn’t necessarily out of the realm of possibility at some point. Similarly, since we don’t know when the next Punisher season will materialize, it’s also possible we could see Castle show up in upcoming seasons of one of the other five Netflix Marvel series — specifically Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or Iron Fist, each of which have imminent new seasons. Alas, this is only speculation — we’ll have to wait and see.

The Punisher’s first 13-episode season garnered generally favorable reviews. Our own review praised the show as one of the most successful of Netflix’s comic book adaptations. If you have yet to watch it, or any other other Marvel series on Netflix, they’re available for streaming now.

Editors’ Recommendations

***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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Need a fresh start? Here’s how to factory reset a Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8 Plus

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Given how complicated and unforgiving smartphones can be, it’s not surprising that installing an app by mistake, misplacing a file, or screwing up settings are all-too-common occurrences. That’s true even on Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which puts ease-of-use features first and foremost. But whether you’ve messed up your smartphone beyond the point of recognition or just want to get back to the no-frills, bare-bones configuration you had when you switched it on for the first time, there’s a solution: Factory resetting your phone.

Resetting a Galaxy S8 to factory default is a lot easier than you might think. The process will wipe your apps and files — including songs, videos, contacts, photos, and calendar info — but backup programs and Samsung’s cloud storage features make recovering them relatively easy. Alternatively, if you’re selling your Galaxy S8 and want to make sure personal information doesn’t make its way into a stranger’s hands, a factory reset is a great way to permanently delete your data.

Here’s how to backup and factory reset a Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. This will work on a Samsung Galaxy Note 8, as well.

Factory reset protection

Factory Reset Protection (FRP), a security measure Google introduced in Android 5.0 Lollipop, is designed to prevent thieves from wiping your device and using or selling it. But if you don’t disable it, it can interfere with a factory reset.

When you reset a phone to factory default with FRP enabled, it’ll prompt you to enter the user name and password for the last Google account registered to the device. That’s good and fine if you’re the owner, but obviously problematic if you’ve sold it or given it to another person.

Here’s how to disable Factory Reset Protection on the Galaxy S8:

  • First, remove your Google account. Go to Settings > Cloud & accounts > Accounts and tap on Google. Then tap the three vertical dots in the upper right, or More > Remove account. Make sure to remove every Google account you see.
  • Next, you’ll have to remove your Samsung account. Head to Settings > Lock screen and security > Find My Mobile. Enter your password, tap on your account at the top, and select More > Remove account.

Now that you’ve disabled Factory Reset Protection, it’s a good idea to back up your apps and settings. Alternatively, you can skip straight to the factory reset process.

Backing up your data

How to back up apps

To back up the apps and games you’ve installed on your Galaxy S8, head to the Settings menu.

  • Tap Cloud and accounts, then Backup & restore.
  • Tap Back up my data, and choose whether or not you’d like to back up your account data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google’s servers.

How to back up contacts

Saving your contacts to the cloud is just as easy as backing up your apps and settings.

  • Open the Settings menu, and then tap Cloud and accounts. 
  • Tap Accounts, and then select the account you’d like to sync.
  • Tap the three vertical dots in the top-right corner, and tap Sync now.

Your cloud-stored contacts should now be up to date.

How to back up media & pictures

Factory resetting your Galaxy S8 doesn’t have to mean losing your photos, videos, and other media. Here’s how to back everything up.

  • Tap the Samsung folder, and then tap My Files. 
  • Tap Internal storage.
  • Tap the three vertical dots icon, and then tap Share. Select the content you want to backup.
  • Tap Share, and select the location you want the content to be shared with.

Reset your Galaxy S8 from the settings menu

The easiest way to factory reset your Galaxy S8 is from the phone’s settings menu. Make sure it’s powered on, and then go to Settings > Backup and reset. Tap on Factory data reset, then Reset device, and finally Erase everything.

Now sit tight — the process takes a few minutes. Once it’s finished, you’ll see the Galaxy S8’s welcome screen.

Reset your Galaxy S8 from the recovery menu

Sometimes, software corruption, persistent malware, and other factors make resetting your Galaxy S8 from the settings menu an unrealistic proposition. Luckily, you can erase the phone’s data without having to boot into its operating system by using the recovery menu.

Make sure your Galaxy S8 is powered down.

  • Hold the Volume up, Bixby, and Power buttons at the same time, and keep them held down until you see the Samsung logo.
  • After 30 seconds, you should see the Android Recovery Menu. If your phone boots up as normal, try repeating the previous two steps.
  • Press the Volume down button four times, until Wipe data/Factory reset is highlighted. Select it using the Power button.
  • Press the Volume down button seven times until Yes — delete all user data is highlighted. Select it using the Power button, which triggers the reset process.
  • Once the factor reset is complete, press the Power button and select reboot system now.

Once the Galaxy S8 boots, you’ll see the default welcome screen.

Reset your Galaxy S8 using Samsung’s Smart Switch PC software

If you’d prefer to use a computer to reset the Galaxy S8, good news: Samsung’s Smart Switch software makes it simple. It’ll guide you through the factory reset process, install the newest firmware on your Galaxy S8, and wipe your apps, settings, and personal data.

There are a few prerequisites, though. You’ll need to plug the Galaxy S8 into one of your PC’s USB ports using a USB-C adapter, and you’ll have to download and install the Smart Switch software from Samsung’s website. From there, it’s all downhill.

If you’re plugging in your Galaxy S8 for the first time, you’ll have to wait for the necessary drivers to install. Once that’s finished, move on to the next steps.

  • Launch the Samsung Smart Switch software you installed earlier. Your phone will appear in the list of devices.
  • Click more in the top-right corner of the screen, and then click Emergency Software Recovery and Initialization.
  • Click Device Initialization. Click OK; click OK again to confirm the initialization; and click OK a third time to confirm you’ve read the list of precautions.
  • Choose whether you want to create a backup. If you’d rather not, click Skip backup.
  • If you get a User Account Control prompt, click Yes.
  • Smart Switch will download and install the latest Galaxy S8 firmware to your device. Once it finishes, click OK.

Your Galaxy S8 should now turn on and it will be wiped clean, ready to set up afresh or pass along. Check out our Galaxy S8 tips and tricks to learn more about your phone, or delve into our Galaxy S8 problems to find fixes for any issues you encounter.

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***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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