Use alternative media programs from the App Store to play popular formats
Q I have a 16GB iPad 2 and I want to be able to play videos that I record using my digital camera – these are stored on an SD card. On my computer, I can watch these using Windows Media Player but I don’t think this is available for the iPad. Also, I would like to add another font (called Black Chancery) to my Lotus word processor – how do I do this?
A There was a time when Apple’s iOS-based devices (such as the iPad and iPhone) would play only the company’s preferred video format (H.264/MPEG4). There were ways around this restriction but these weren’t realistic for many users.
However, a year or so ago the firm began allowing alternative media-player programs – some of which will play many popular video file formats – into its App Store.
You didn’t tell us the specific video type you want to play but the chances are the files will be in AVI format.
While reliable video-playback is a little more complicated than just saying that one or other iPad app will play AVI files – a lot depends on the codecs available with the app – from experience we can say that you will probably find an app that can play back your video files on an iPad.
In fact, the biggest hurdle is transferring the videos to the iPad in the first place but we will come to that in a minute.
Inevitably there are both paid-for and free apps from which to choose. We’ve tried several of both varieties here in the Computeractive office and one of the better free ones is Flex:Player. Install this onto your iPad and launch it and you’ll notice that the interface is essentially blank; this is because you have yet to transfer any videos across.
To do this, connect your iPad to your computer using the supplied USB cable and launch iTunes. Now click your iPad’s entry under the Devices heading on the left-hand side. Then, in the pane on the right, click Apps and scroll down the page to the File Sharing section.
In the Apps area on the left of this section click the Flex:Player entry - and note the Documents entry on the right. Launch Windows Explorer (by holding down the Windows key and tapping E), find your video files and drag and drop them onto the aforementioned Documents area.
Look at the status area at the top of iTunes and you’ll see that the files are now being transferred (it could take some time if the files are large). When finished, return to the Flex:Player app on the iPad and you should see that your videos are there, ready to play.
As for adding fonts, this is reasonably straightforward – once you’ve sourced the font file that you want. There are hundreds of free font-download sites on the web but one that we’ve used a few times and found reliable is Da Font.
Use the search box at the top right to find a font and, in the results list, select those with a ‘Public Domain/GNU GPL’ licence – these are effectively free of charge.
Click to download the font to your PC. The contents of the downloaded ZIP file should be expanded (by right-clicking the file and choosing Extract all) before being copied into your Windows fonts folder.
Typically this will be C:\Windows\Fonts but if you struggle to find it, click Start followed by Run, type %windir%\fonts and press Enter.
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