Sport & Auto
- About Future
- Digital Future
- Cookies Policy
- Terms & Conditions
- Investor Relations
- Contact Future
Crunch's interface will be familiar to users of Roxio's disc-burning app, Toast. That ease of use is the best thing Crunch has going for it, though.
Roxio’s Crunch is another application designed to fill a need of Apple TV, iPhone, and video iPod users - the need to properly encode video files for those devices. However, at a cost of nearly $40, Crunch will have a hard time prying users away from cheaper alternatives, especially free ones.
Crunch does have Roxio’s familiar Toast interface going for it. You drag into the Crunch window any file that’s QuickTime compatible or AVI, DivX, MPEG-2, or another supported format. Then click the Burn button, choose whether to save at iPhone or iPod resolution or the higher resolutions required by the Apple TV, and decide how you want your file encoded: quickly, slowly but with a higher picture quality, or with your own custom settings. Crunch will then convert the movie file and leave it in a destination of your choice. By default, there’s a specially created Crunch playlist in iTunes, but you can pick other folders, such as the Desktop or your Movies folder. As you might expect if you’re familiar with Toast, there’s also a graphic preview by the Burn button that gives you an idea of final file size with the chosen settings.
The powers of Toast and Roxio’s other application, Popcorn (3 out of 5 stars), are also on display in Crunch’s ability to convert DRM-free DVDs into iPod-, iPhone-, and Apple TV-friendly files. You can provide it with a DVD, an image of a DVD, or a VIDEO_TS folder, and Crunch will let you pick the movie and/or extras you want to extract and convert.
The trouble with Crunch is that despite its ease of use, there are better, cheaper alternatives. Handbrake (free) provides fast and high-resolution conversions of movie files and DVDs to iPod and Apple TV formats, as well as PSP formats - it’s just harder to use than Crunch. The equally free iSquint is about as easy to use as Crunch, although less polished, and can convert movie files to iPod resolution. VisualHub ($23.42) is as easy to use and can also convert to Apple TV resolution, as well as to other formats such as PSP, Flash movie, DV, and DVD.
Crunch relies on QuickTime for most of its conversions. On our test machine, we compared compression times of Crunch against VisualHub. Using the “Apple TV - Fastest” setting in Crunch to compress a 250MB DivX movie took 38 minutes to produce a 640-by-480-pixel resolution file. VisualHub’s highest-quality Apple TV setting took 15 minutes to produce a 624-by-352-pixel file, although the picture quality was poorer than Crunch’s. Switching to “Apple TV - Best” in Crunch took an astonishing 1 hour and 47 minutes to produce a file of the same resolution, despite the Apple TV being capable of displaying 720-pixel-width videos. After we turned on H.264 encoding in VisualHub to match Crunch, it still took that app only 40 minutes. Surprisingly, Crunch’s highest-quality conversion was the worst-looking picture of the lot.
The bottom line. Crunch offers little that free or cheaper apps don’t provide. We’ll wait for the next version.
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or later or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.4.9 or later, 256MB RAM, QuickTime 7.1.5 or later, iTunes 7.1.1 or later
Simple interface. Works with MPEG-2 and DivX videos. Process movies and extras on DVD. Universal binary.
Few features other than conversion. Not as powerful as cheaper (or free) products.