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It seems like everyone is drowning in video these days. With everything from full-sized camcorders to pocket-sized mini cams capable of shooting in HD, not to mention your DVD collection, there are endless hours of content to be watched. But ask anyone who’s ever waited for hours while converting video with H.264 encoders--for playback on an iPhone, Apple TV, or MacBook, for example--and it’s clear that video can be cumbersome for most consumers, even on recent Mac hardware. Elgato’s Turbo.264 HD aims to make converting video for use on your devices easier. It works with pretty much any kind of video, whether it’s something you shot yourself or video you ripped from your Welcome Back, Kotter DVD collection. Not that you’d do anything like that, of course.
The new Turbo.264 supports full 1080p.
Turbo.264 HD is a hardware video encoder and accelerator. The USB thumb drive–style form factor makes it easy to use, a theme that carries over into the bundled software. All you have to do is drag your video files into the app’s window, choose an encoding resolution, and you’re off. A previous incarnation of the hardware encoded standard-def video content, but the new HD version can handle both 720p and full 1080p HD video.
For home-movie mavens, the Turbo.264 HD has several handy tricks up its sleeve. Converting videos and uploading the results to YouTube is a one-click operation, once you’ve entered your YouTube credentials. It also speeds up transfers from your AVCHD camcorder and gooses video exports from iMovie, Final Cut Pro, QuickTime Pro, and Elgato’s own EyeTV hardware. Simple edit tools also allow you to preview clips and trim them before you spend the time encoding them in other formats. Using the Turbo.264 HD with iMovie ’09, we exported a 9-minute, 35-second HD video clip using settings for Apple TV in 5 minutes, 27 seconds. Using iMovie’s native export—without the Turbo.264—the exact same export took 16 minutes, 28 seconds.
Turbo.264 HD speeds up H.264 video conversions...making it easier to cram the Bluth family into your iPhone.
Even if you’re not an amateur Scorsese or Warren Miller, the Turbo.264 HD comes in handy for converting DVDs for playback on your MacBook or iPhone. Of course, breaking the copy protection--it’s so easy, can it really even be called breaking anymore?—is still technically illegal, but if you were to happen upon some DVD video that somehow got decrypted, the Turbo.264 HD makes quick work of it. A 28-minute, 36-second episode of Arrested Development took a mere 4 minutes, 54 seconds to convert for use on an iPhone, using a 3.06GHz iMac with 4GB of RAM.
As for the video quality, we found that videos encoded with the Turbo.264 HD didn’t look quite as good as the same video encoded with iMovie ’09, but for most personal applications, the dramatic increases in encoding speed were worth the small hit to quality.
Pro editors already have specialized gear for encoding video, but for the average Mac user, Turbo.264 HD makes working with video—including 720p or 1080p HD—a much speedier process.
REQUIREMENTS: Intel processor, Mac OS 10.5.6 or later, USB 2.0 port
Drag-and-drop video conversions. Works with iMovie and other apps via an included plug-in. Super-fast encoding times. Supports full 1080p.
End results don't look quite as good as standard iMovie exports.