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Elgato Releases Turbo.264 HD Video Convertor

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Elgato is a company synonymous with television and video hardware products for the Mac. Today they announced the availability of Turbo.264 HD, a hardware conversion tool that offers a fast way to encode video between formats or move video off your HD camcorder.

Many different software tools exist for converting video on the Mac, ranging from QuickTime itself, to more advanced solutions such as HandBrake. Depending upon the Mac hardware you’re running, these software solutions may mean an extensive wait for converting video — particularly if you’re doing so at HD resolution. Hardware encoders such as the Turbo.264 HD can take the load off your Mac, and dramatically speed up the process.

Main Features

Convert between any and all formats
Convert between any and all formats

The main features and selling points of the new hardware encoder fall into four different categories:

  1. HD Camcorder Support — Provides far quicker conversion to a viewable desktop video format. The example provided by Elgato is that where it used to take over an hour to make a 15-minute movie, it now takes less than 20 minutes.
  2. Accelerate TV Export & Video Conversion — Either between video formats, or from the EyeTV recording software
  3. Preview & Trim Video Files — You can directly edit video before commencing a conversion or import.
  4. Suitable for all levels of knowledge — Default profiles allow converting for your iPhone, YouTube or HD. Alternatively, you can create custom video output profiles by adjusting size, aspect ratio, overscan, frame rate, data rate and more.

Software Interface

The software interface for Turbo.264 HD seems remarkably simple — important for a fairly technical process such as video encoding. It ensures that an average user won’t be confused when opening the application, while also offering a wealth of more advanced conversion options for power users.

After adding videos to convert, you can select a particular quality setting for each, ranging from “iPod Small,” all the way through to full 1080p HD. Obviously, the higher the quality chosen, the longer the encoding process will take.

Adding Video & Selecting Encoding
Adding Video & Selecting Encoding

Once you’ve got the conversion going, a progress window shows how far along the current video is, along with how many other videos are still queued for processing. Also interesting is a reading which displays how many Frames Per Second are currently being converted:

Encoding Progress
Encoding Progress

Who Needs It?

It seems that there are two types of users who could benefit from purchasing a Turbo.264 HD. First are those who simply convert a lot of video, or regularly record live TV to move onto a portable device (or iTunes). If you regularly find yourself checking your watch while the fan whirrs away on your laptop, this could be a real time saver. It’s also particularly useful if you’re a big YouTube fan, as videos can be exported for uploading to the web (and even automatically uploaded to YouTube, if desired).

The other users are those who own a HD camcorder and would like a faster way to move their video off it to a usable desktop format. Doing this through an external device, such as the Turbo.264 HD, can make it a much more enjoyable process, rather than one which seems to take an eternity. It integrates in the background with iMovie or Final Cut Pro, so you can still benefit from all the great video editing features of those apps while enjoying improved exporting performance.

Pricing and Availability

The Turbo.264 HD is currently on sale for $149.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard. You can pick one pick one up directly from Elgato, and shipping starts on March 23.

If you don’t require HD functionality, the older model can still be picked up for $99 from the Apple Store.

6 Responses to “Elgato Releases Turbo.264 HD Video Convertor”

  1. I have to agree with both of you on some points. The HARDWARE part of the Turbo264 is excellent. I have done my own tests and a file that has taken 5-6 hours without the turbo have taken closer to 2 hours with the Turbo.

  2. I am very disappointed with the Elgato 264HD. The lack of basic features like AC3 audio and subtitles turns me off. trading $150 + no basic audio + no subtitle + worse picture quality + missing features for just 3x-4X speed conversion is a bad deal. I don’t understand the idea of having best picture quality (HD) and less than basic audio (AC3 not supported).

  3. Hickemon

    I have to agree with both of you on some points. The HARDWARE part of the Turbo264 is excellent. I have done my own tests and a file that has taken 5-6 hours without the turbo have taken closer to 2 hours with the Turbo. As for the SOFTWARE, I agree it is definitely the weak part of the product. The problem with a lot of video files is that they come in a “common” container. The file might be AVI but is it Divx4, 5 6 ? Xvid? 3ivx? Saying they support “AVI” is just too broad a statement and they should do a better job at that. The bottom line is buy the product for the hardware and you will be very happy. Software that supports the hardware like Toast 10, Popcorn 3, and RoadMovie are much better software packages to use. If you are a user of iMovie you will see a huge difference in the processing time.

  4. sherkaner

    Dang. Some of us have bad luck I guess, although I am surprised that you were so impressed with their service. They typically take weeks to get back to me about service tickets. Once they do, they’re nice, friendly people to be sure, but the answer usually comes back to “maybe we’ll fix that in a future version”, which never seems to happen.

  5. Mark Plested

    Hi Sherkaner,
    It sounds like you’ve had a bad time with Elgato, but I have to say I’ve had quite the opposite experience. I’ve got three of their products, including the Turbo.264. All have worked flawlessly, and the one time I had a problem (or my own doing) they dealt with me quickly and efficiently.
    They still get my vote as one of the good Mac companies, and my order for the new HD Turbo.

  6. sherkaner

    Stay away. Elgato has had pathologically bad software support for years. They continue to put out cool new products, but fail to fix major bugs in their old stuff. My Turbo.264 continues to crash on many, many types of (supposedly supported) video files, and the best their support has offered is a beta version that fixes that one problem, while introducing other new problems. If you read their discussion forums, you’ll see pages of these problems with both their EyeTV software and the Turbo.264 software. Given my bad experience with EyeTV, I’m not sure why I took the risk on the Turbo.264…

    I don’t generally like slamming whole companies, but I and others have been putting up with this behavior on Elgato’s part for years now, hoping that they will finally make this stuff usable. Just a word of warning to those assuming a smooth, no-maintenance solution.