Encoding h.264 Video for the Nook Color using Handbrake

The Nook Color from Barnes and Noble has a nice 7” IPS screen with a resolution of 1024×600, and also supports adding storage using a MicroSD card up to 32GB.  Given that, it makes sense to encode movies from DVD or other sources for viewing on the Nook.  There are some limitations though, due to the hardware.  As noted in the Nook FAQ:

Your NOOK Color supports the following video file formats: 3gp, 3g2, mp4, m4v; MPEG-4 Simple Profile up to 854×480; H.263 up to 352×288; H.264 Baseline profile up to 854×480

Your NOOK Color will not support the following video file formats: Flash (Flv/swf); Mov/qt; AVI; MKV; Xvid/divx; WMV / VC-1; H.264 Main and High profile; and videos with a resolution higher than 854×480

The Nook Color also does not appear to support Anamorphic (see the Handbrake User Guide for a good overview).  Handbrake v0.9.5, the current version as of May 2011, does not have a preset for the Nook Color.  However, we can easily create one.  Open Handbrake and select your video source (folder on your hard drive from a ripped DVD, or a disc in your drive), then select the “iPhone and iPod Touch” preset.  This preset will set up Baseline h.264 settings for the conversion.  Set the container to MP4.  The On the picture tab, set Anamorphic to None, ensure that Keep Aspect Ratio is checked, and set the video resolution to 720 width.  The height should be set for you.

On the video tab, make sure the video codec is set to H.264 (x264).  Framerate (FPS) should be Same as Source unless you have a reason for wanting to change it.  Under quality you can either go with a constant quality setting or average bitrate.  I selected average, with a value of 1100 kbps.  I also selected Two-pass Encoding and Turbo First Pass.  Note that Two-pass Encoding will increase the time of the encode.  On the Audio tab, I set the codec to AAC, the Mixdown to Stereo, and the bitrate to 128 kbps.

On the Advanced tab, change the following from the “iPhone & iPod Touch” preset: I set the Subpixel ME to 8, set the Trellis to Default, No-DCT Decimate to checked, and Psychovisual Rate Distortion to 1.1.

To save all of the above as a preset, click on Add on the right side under the Presets box and supply a name, then click on Add.  The settings above resulted in pretty nice looking video on my Nook Color with version 1.2 software (Android Froyo).  It’s too bad the NC won’t do even Main profile h.264 or higher resolution.  Given the screen resolution, some 720p video would probably look nice.  But for a tablet who’s primary use is intended to be an eReader, it does pretty well with h.264.

Note: To transfer the videos to the Nook and have them viewable from the Library, connect the Nook to your PC using the Nook’s USB cable, and copy the video into My Files\Videos folder on either the main Nook storage drive (MyNOOKcolor) or the MicroSD card (Removable Storage).

One thought on “Encoding h.264 Video for the Nook Color using Handbrake”

  1. Hi. I just want to say I’ve tried several ways of converting the vids for my Nook Color and your post is the one that worked. Thanks a lot!!!

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