MPEG-2 and VC-1 decoding comes to the Raspberry Pi

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The Raspberry Pi for such a low price makes a great media center machine but the lack of support for MPEG2 and VC-1 did make it a bit limiting. The reason why the codec support was left out was due to the licencing cost but the good news is you can now purchase a MPEG-2 licence for your Raspberry Pi for that very reasonable cost of £2.40 and the VC-1 licences costs an additional £1.20.

The licence is tied to your Raspberry Pi serial number and can be purchases from the Raspberry Pi store.

All this should be good news for anyone building a media player with the Raspberry Pi, I am going to see if it helps playing back native Windows Media Center recordings. I will give it a try over the weekend and report back.

More details from the Raspberry Pi blog:

 

If you’ve been following this website since we launched it last summer, you’ll probably be aware that we had to make some hard decisions about exactly what we could include on the Raspberry Pi if we were to meet our extremely low target price. One of the things that we had to regretfully dismiss as an option was an MPEG-2 decode licence for every unit. Providing that licence would have raised the price of every Raspberry Pi by roughly 10%, and we simply weren’t able to justify that when we held it up against the educational goals of the Foundation. Our initial expectation was that most of you would buy the Raspberry Pi for educational purposes, and that you wouldn’t mind that MPEG-2 wasn’t available. Our bad.

MPEG-2 and VC-1 decode

Thing is, a bunch of you went and bought the Raspberry Pi in February and immediately started using it as your primary media centre. And many, many of you have existing media libraries which are encoded using MPEG-2, and don’t fancy transcoding gigabites of stuff to H.264. You’ve been complaining about that. Vociferously.

We’ve spent some months working out how on earth to square this particular circle. A blanket licence for everybody would cost the Foundation money it simply doesn’t have, and not everybody with a Raspberry Pi would use that licence; an individual licence for an individual user to download and use with an individual machine is a surprisingly finickity thing to engineer. (This is why we’re very grateful to have Dom on board our engineering team, because he’s clever.) But that’s what we’ve done – so from today, you’ll be able to purchase an MPEG-2 decode licence which will be tied to your Raspberry Pi’s unique serial number. This will allow you to play MPEG-2 material from XBMC and omxplayer, which hasn’t been an available feature before now.

To purchase an MPEG-2 licence visit our (relaunched) store. And before you mention it in the comments, yes, stickers, t-shirts and other merchandise will be available, but not until we’ve built up a staff to handle it, which will take up a few months. Eben and I quickly realised earlier this year that if we keep gumming the envelopes and sticking on labels for this stuff ourselves, we will die from papercuts and boredom in very short order – and nothing else will get done because we’ll be very gluey.

We have also made a VC-1 licence available for purchase in the store. This is Microsoft’s video codec, and we don’t expect as many of you to require it as require MPEG-2, but there is a significant volume of material out there in this format which we thought it’d be nice to have the option to view on the Raspberry Pi

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