Video File Types For The Ipad

The iPad can only record HD video from its rear-facing camera.

The Apple iPad is designed as an Inetrnet-equipped multimedia platform, and is able to store, download and playback various digital audio and video file types. Apple’s native video format requirements are quite strict, requiring any videos downloaded from iTunes to be of a specific file type. Other options are available when uploading your own video library, with the support of third-party applications.


Apple favors the MPEG-4 video standard for use with the iPad, which encompasses wide-ranging methods of compressing audio and video. Standard definition (SD) videos, TV shows and films downloaded from the online iTunes Store are stored in the MPEG-4 format, and use the “.mp4” file extension. For iPad compatibility, SD MPEG-4 videos have a required resolution of 640 by 480 pixels at 30-frames-per-second, with 48KHz audio up to 160 Kbps per channel. SD videos recorded by the iPad are stored using this format.


Thanks to its high-definition (HD) display the iPad can playback HD videos, which are also stored using MPEG-4 compression. Although the file extension is typically the same as SD videos, there is a significant difference between the SD and HD standards, as iPad-compatible HD videos must be encoded using the advanced H.264 codec. This allows videos to be encoded in 720P resolution at 30-frames-per-second, with 48KHz audio up to 160Kbps per channel. High-definition videos recorded by the iPad’s rear-facing camera are stored using this format.

Streaming Service

The iPad is not compatible with online streaming services, such as YouTube and Vimeo, due to the video encoding used. This issue is resolved by the use of third-party applications, and the iPad’s native YouTube application. Videos downloaded through a streaming service’s official application are sent using an alternative format — typically a combination of the MPEG-4 standards — which the iPad is able to display. This allows the iPad to playback multimedia content from a host of online video-sharing sources without compatibility issues.

Third Party Applications

Although the iPad is only compatible with the MPEG-4 standards natively, a variety of multimedia playback applications are available that can decode and display a wide range of standard digital video file types. Apps such as BUZZ Player HD, OPlayer HD and AVPlayerHD allow you to store and playback popular video formats including AVI, WMV, MPG, XVID, DIVX, MKV and FLV. They support both SD and HD videos, and feature considerably less restrictive audio and resolution requirements than those demanded by Apple’s specifications.