In response to Chris’ post from a few days ago, to which I finally had time to respond:
- Audio format: There is no doubt that Ogg Vorbis is the superior format for fidelity. However, there is equally no doubt that MP3 is the superior format for interoperability, and no good news (for Vorbis) on the horizon on that front. Make sure that all your devices support VBR, and use that method to encode. The open source LAME encoder is widely recognized as the best encoder, and its ——preset standard option suffices for practically everyone who does not have the ears of this man.
- Video format: I’m a little less informed on video files, but my understanding is that most people prefer MPEG4, and DivX is the most popular codec available for that purpose. (MPEG4 is a container format, and DivX is one of the several codecs available that work in that container; QuickTime, for example, is another.) I think this is where you start to get into interoperability issues — it’s important to know what your hardware supports to be able to encode properly.
- Streaming source: This is problematic — there are quite a number of A/V solutions on the market, and each of them has quite a number of deficiencies. I would say this is not something you want to invest in right now. Check back in 12-18 months for advances in the market. If you’re willing to start with an audio-only solution, The SqueezeBox family is supposed to be the bee’s knees.