Video Formats 101: Download Movies On Your Phone, Tablet, Or PC

video formatsNavigating the world of video file formats can get confusing, even more so when it comes to playing video on different types of devices. Not all videos can play on all types of devices. In fact, there are plenty of smartphones that can’t play FLV videos. Before you even start downloading videos, it’s best to know what types of video formats can be played on your device. Not to worry, we can help. Whether you’re looking for movies to watch on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, here’s what you need to know if you’re searching for videos by file format.


When looking online you’ll likely see a lot of options to download MP4 videos. That’s because MP4 is the jack-of-all-trades among video formats. It’s widely used for computers and mobile devices, and it’s appropriate for both downloading and streaming video. Since it’s the default choice for smartphones and tablets, we’ll discuss downloading MP4 movies in-depth later. Besides, another format is gaining in popularity for watching movies on your computer.

MKV has the capability of handling virtually unlimited streams of digital media. In addition to multiple tracks of audio and video, an MKV file player can read subtitles, chapter points, menus, stereoscopic 3D content, and it supports the AC3 surround sound codec. MKV also supports dual audio tracks and fansubs — subtitles in different languages created by individual fans — which is why it’s become a popular format for anime videos. As more and more movies have additional features available there will be increasingly more MKV movie downloads available online.

Not all video players can play downloaded MKV movies, so it’s important to look at the video file formats supported by a video player before getting it. RealPlayer Plus can play MKV videos as well as read the encoded subtitles found in MKV files.


While MKV is quickly gaining favor, an old standby format is still widely used. Just about every media player supports AVI movies, and you’ll often find AVI videos on sites that offer free movie downloads. Developed in the early 1990s, AVI has become somewhat antiquated since there have been several technologies introduced that offer better compression schemes for optimizing space requirements. That’s why AVI files are typically larger than MP4 files, making them less suitable for use on mobile devices or for streaming movies on a computer.

If you have a library of AVI files on your computer that you’d like to be able to play on your mobile device, there are plenty of video format converters available that will do the trick. In fact, the free version of RealPlayer converts a wide range of formats including AVI and can transfer videos directly to your Android device. The best part about RealPlayer is that you don’t actually need to know which video file format will work with your mobile device. Instead, you simply select the model of your phone from the list of supported handsets and RealPlayer does the rest.


When looking for files that will play on your smartphone, the format you’ll come across most often is MP4. It’s widely compatible with Android and Apple mobile devices. From a technical standpoint, MP4‘s main attraction is that it supports the H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) codec, which processes the original large media file into a small package that can yield high-quality video at very low bit rates if necessary. The H.264 codec is optimal both for streaming Internet video (which requires lower bit rates) and Blu-ray discs (which handle extremely high bit rates). For smartphones, your best bet is to download MP4 movies. These videos will save space without sacrificing quality.

As with smartphones, MP4 is the standard video format on tablets. But what about all those anime MVK movies downloaded and saved on your computer that you’d like to play on your tablet? It’s unlikely that your tablet’s video player will play MKV files by default, so you’ll need to download a media player that supports the format. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a video converter app that will convert MKV files to MP4, such as RealPlayer Plus.

Do you have a format preference when it comes to watching video? Let us know in the comments section.

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