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AVI Quality in Windows Media Player

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 8/14/2009

Ready for the HD Revolution? Your PC is capable of outputting at 1080p, but are you using the right video format? Read on inside to find out.

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    AVI Against the World

    Windows Media Player isn’t the best of media players, but it does get the job done, especially with the Windows 7 pre-installed codecs that simplify your life significantly. AVI files are now played with ease in the media player the minute you install the OS, so what could be the issue at hand? The issue here is in regards to the quality AVI can achieve in a WMP setting.

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    It should be noted here that most video files on the PC do not have a ceiling for quality the way codecs on a DVD player do. In that regard, an AVI file can most assuredly output at 1080p or 720p. However, the AVI file with this kind of resolution will not be workable under most normal PCs that aren’t modified for special video viewing.

    At 720p, the situation is a bit better, but then, it is all dependent on what source you actually managed to get your video from. For example, if I rip the data from a VHS source, it’s not going to matter whether or not I blow it up to 720p or 1080p, it’ll be bad either way.

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    So Which Format Works Best?

    Follow this simple guide to figuring out which files work best for you:

    1080p – This is an elite format that is currently only competently handled by a Matroska file known as an “MKV” because the file name is always “Film.MKV”. These files however, only have compatibility on PCs and nowhere else. Your PS3 won’t play them, your Xbox can’t recognize them, but they are extremely useful for home servers, where you can stream 1080p files over a local network between computers who are running compatible operating systems and server programs.

    720p – This is much more flexible, but AVI files are still too large to use effectively with this format. Matroska again performs admirably, but a good alternative are the WMV HD files which output at 720p and run extra silky-smooth on your Windows Media Player. If you have the ability to choose between the two, choose the WMV as it’s much more compatible.

    Standard – This quality is an anything-goes kind of situation, be it MPEG, AVI, WMV, or MP4, you’re likely not going to get a very good picture. This is the standard, typically 480p resolution or maybe even lower depending on what you’re looking for. At this point, you can pretty much be running the video on any machine with any configuration that it’s not going to affect the video quality that much.
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    The point here is to recognize that AVI files are only useful for regular TV viewing or reduced High-Def viewing of both TV and film. Due to the high volume of movies and TV shows that are being released in HD these days, you’re less and less likely to want AVI because of its large, unworkable size and the fact that there are other more competent codecs out there, like the MKV codec. You don’t need to buy a new PC to test any of this either, download an MKV or WMV HD file for yourself today and see the difference.