Please note – this is an old article and is only appropriate for the original iPad.

Having just bought my own iPad, I can say that video really does look good played back on this larger screen. However, despite the fact that Apple (and everyone else, for that matter) seems to be focusing on its ability to play back high-definition video, it seems as though we’ve overlooked the fact that it’s a 4:3 screen.

I see that there are a number of sites offering advice on how to encode video for use on an iPad, but all of these seem to be using 1280×720 as their baseline – which will playback letterboxed and downscaled. If you want to create video that will actually fill the iPad’s XGA (1024×768 pixels) screen without rescaling, then you need to step back to a 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s a bit old-school, but this may prove really useful for software tutorials, or even digitising older footage.

Sadly, Adobe Media Encoder doesn’t have any presets for creating videos that natively fit the iPad screen, so I’ve put a together a couple for you. They both use h.264 and AAC codecs and use the iPad’s native resolution. They use 3.1 profile, with a VBR between 2-3Mbps. The only difference between the two is the frame rate. As a PAL user, all of my footage is captured and output to 25fps so that’s the one I’ll be using – if you’re in the US, then you’ll be better off with the 30fps version.

To set these up, download the ZIP file and unpack it onto your computer, then open up Adobe Media Encoder and select the import preset function to copy them to your presets list.

I’ve tested the 25fps version with some fairly tricky scenes for compression (vignetting, monochrome, high-motion), but you can always increase the bit rate if you find your results need a bit of extra bandwidth to help them on their way. A six-minute video turned out around 90MB, so it’s a pretty conservative bit rate that won’t suck up all your storage space like the typical 720P HD presets will.

Hope it’s of some use!