You would use MPEG-4 like this if you need compatibility with QuickTime 6 era players or if
the target audience was using quite old, slow computers. MPEG-4 simple profile requires a lot
less computing power to play than H.264.
However, I do not recommend MPEG-4 simple profile for general web video. The codec is
old and of poor quality compared with H.264 video and AAC audio.
I do recommend that you create an MPEG-4 with H.264 video for higher
quality at lower bandwidth and always use the .mp4 suffix.
Compare the quality between the two images on the previous page: both are from the same
source (ABC TV Australia’s The Cook and the Chef opening). Both examples are encoded at
the same data rate. The difference in quality is the difference between the older Simple Pro-
file encoder and the newer H.264 encoder. (Yes, codecs make that much difference.)
H.264 is technically MPEG-4 Part 10 — Advanced Video Codec, which is why it's sometimes
known as AVC. H.264 is the name for it in the European ITU which shares the same standard.
Nice thing about standards is there are so many of them!
H.264 scales really well so you can use the same codec from cell phones to digital cinema,
which is unusual because most codecs are optimized for a small range of sizes, but H.264 is a
great all-round codec.
MP4 with H.264 video and AAC audio would be my choice for regular web video. It has
one other big advantage. MPEG-4 both Simple Profile and H.264 are the only formats com-
patible with video iPods, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, so if that's your target - or part of your
target - the decision is easy.
One last common choice. DivX is an odd case: an MPEG-4 compliant video track with an MP3
audio track in an AVI container. This is a variation on the MPEG-4 Part 2 Simple Profile video
codec (the Advanced Simple Profile to be precise), which we’ve already discarded because of
quality reasons from that older codec.
DivX got its popularity with the "pirate video" community and that's probably where it's still
the strongest. QuickTime Player will play most DivX files although, if they have VBR MP3
audio, it might be silent depending on your version of QuickTime!
DivX is capable of acceptable results but is not really mainstream and I'd avoid it for client
review or regular web video where it's not commonly seen. If you want to send out your pro-
ject on Pirate Bay or other peer-to-peer network then DivX might be a good choice.