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.
The main features and selling points of the new hardware encoder fall into four different categories:
- 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.
- Accelerate TV Export & Video Conversion — Either between video formats, or from the EyeTV recording software
- Preview & Trim Video Files — You can directly edit video before commencing a conversion or import.
- 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.
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.
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:
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.