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TeknologikL is a place for conversation and discussion about new technologies emerging in consumer electronics with a focus on high-definition video and audio. The blog will cover topics including home theater equipment, digital distribution, media streaming, electronic product reviews and more.

The blog's owners are constantly searching for the next device to satisfy their ever growing hunger for technology. Media junkies standing on the edge of reality, ready to take the jump.

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Matroska and You (MKV Multimedia Container)

Posted May 07, 2009 12:01 AM by Kaplin

Many of you are probably saying, "Mawhatska?" to yourself right now, but in a few years time MKV files will become the MP3 of video. The Matroska Multimedia Container is an open standard audio/video container.

The English word 'Matroska' is derived from the Russian word 'Matryoshka', which translates to "nesting doll". As the name suggests, the Matroska format can hold an unlimited amount of video and audio streams within.

Although Matroska is gaining in popularity at a very rapid pace, it is hardly a newcomer to the scene. The Matroska project was created in 2002 with the intent to create a flexible audio/video container with future needs in mind.

Open Source
The Matroska project is open source, which means it is completely free to use. It also means that the source code is free to use for programmers to adapt and create their own features or add-ons.

Another benefit of being an open source project is that electronics manufacturers can build MKV support into their products without having to pay any royalty fee. This can help drive manufacturers to add support to their products at a lower cost and has been some of the major hindrances of other video formats such as MP4 and AVI.

Multiple Audio Tracks - One advantage of MKV files is the ability to store multiple audio tracks. This enables commentary tracks or alternate versions to be stored in a single file.

Multiple Subtitle Tracks - MKV offers the inclusion of subtitles in multiple languages also within the same file.

Chapter Support - Another advantage over MP4 is chapter information, similar to a DVD menu.

Audio Support - MKV includes support for both Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) and DTS Audio. MP4 files mainly support AAC audio, which has less hardware support.

Getting MKV to run on your computer
Ready to start reveling in HD content with some MKV files? Hold your horses. Your computer won't recognize these files natively. You will have to install a few free programs to get your computer up to speed on the new container format.

The easiest way to add MKV support is to install a program such as VLC Media Player which can handle almost any format. If you'd rather use your current media player, you must add support for MKV codecs. MKV files can use many different video and audio codecs. You can install each of these individually or use a codec pack to install many codecs at a time. Another option is a program called FFDSHOW, which works with the media player to automatically download any codec as they become needed.

Here is a more in-depth guide to installing MKV support on your computer.

Media Center Extender with MKV support?
Sure MKV files look awesome on your PC, but who wants to watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster movie on their computer monitor? Next, we'll take a look at media extenders and some of the more popular ones on the market today.

With all of these features, MKV finally sounds like a video container that has a shot of replacing discs completely. Do you think computer files will replace packaged media altogether or are you nostalgic for your collection of shiny little discs?

More Info:
Matroska.org Home Page
MKV File Extension (Afterdawn)


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Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Engineering Fields - Software Engineering - BSME Clarkson University 1992 Fans of Old Computers - TRS-80 - DataRock 1.0

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Troy, NY
Posts: 388
Good Answers: 3

Re: Matroska and You (MKV Multimedia Container)

05/13/2009 8:23 PM

+ = a great Russian-Finnish combination! :)

- Larry

Anonymous Poster

Re: Matroska and You (MKV Multimedia Container)

06/06/2009 8:47 PM

MP3 of video... I dunno mate,

I mean i've only ever had one mkv file which i had to playback and the XBMC opensource port of Mplayer (probably the most implemented open source media player) didn't support the format!

Just because it offers some nice features doesn't mean it will become mainstream. The most common data video file at the moment is Xvid, which is an open source version of Dixv - and is currently natively supported by many DVD players and all of the 'good' media players i.e. VLC, Mplayer etc. if you want any proof that Xvid is indeed the mainstream format, just check out one of the pirated torrent websites, where 99% dvdrips are downloadable in Xvid format

As for the idea of data files replacing DVD/SVCD discs this has already happened, i myself (and many other people in my generation) run XBMC on an old microsoft xbox console, which allows me to watch or listen to any music or movies etc on my network via windows (SMB) file sharing. i still buy cd's and dvd's etc, but once i've bought (and paid my royallities) i generally just rip the media onto a harddrive the local network, which is far more convient, tidy, and avoids scratching the original media.

check out: http://xbmc.org/


Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New York
Posts: 575
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In reply to #2

Re: Matroska and You (MKV Multimedia Container)

06/08/2009 11:24 AM

Thanks for the comment, interesting point of view.

When dealing with dvd rips you are correct, 99% of them are AVI files compressed with a Xvid codec.

If you read my entry on the AVI Video Container, you will see that I said it is the most popular format but it does have a lot of limitations.

With Blu-ray or HDTV rips though, you will see a very high percentage are in MKV format.

And although a lot of devices don't currently have MKV support, since it is an open format I think you will see support coming much sooner than it did for AVI.

I have heard a lot of good things about XBMC but I use a Popcorn Hour A-110 for the same purpose.

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