This is the kind of video conversion program that feels like it belongs in an Apple store; slick, clean-looking, with a lot of white space and colorful buttons in it’s interface, and as little information crammed on the screen at any one time as possible. It also delivers exactly what is promised, which is always a bonus.
Freemake Video Converter offers the ability to convert videos across different formats, burn video files to DVD, convert DVDs to video files, convert and upload to YouTube, convert photos to video slideshow, convert video files to MP3 (i.e.demux the sound) or even combine an audio file with a wide selection of pre-built visualizations. It can also perform some video editing functions in the process (i.e. cut, rotate, or join).
This program employs the now fashionable interface device of offering different conversion profiles based on the type of media or mobile device, such as iPod, iPhone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, and Blackberry. And while this can be very convenient for the average user, for advanced users it tends to come at the expense of having the degree of control over the conversion process which they may like or require.
Ok, here’s a list of PROS and CONS.
- One-stop-shop for working with video: whether you want to convert video, cut or join videos, create a DVD, convert a DVD to video, demux video into audio, convert and upload to YouTube, or create a slideshow from a bunch of images.
- Convert a DVD to video file: quickly and easily and in only a few clicks (as long as the DVD is not encrypted). It can also convert a DVD that is ripped to the hard drive (for DVD decrypting/ripping options see the free version of DVDFab HD Decrypter or RipIt4Me).
- Nice and simple interface: no learning curve, no technical knowledge needed. Drag and drop your media files from explorer. The “flow” of the different processes makes sense
- Generally excellent output: and fast processing too.
- The editor: is a simple interface that allows for cutting a part of the video, or even rotating and flipping a video. Not a common thing to have in a video conversion program, and generally pretty cool (see image to the right).
- Supports every format under the sun: including video, audio, and image formats. Literally too many to list here, but includes every format you can think of (for video and audio), including MKV, WMV, RM, Quicktime, and flash (FLV and SWF). Go here for a list.
- Supports every conceivable device format: with pre-set conversion profiles. (iPod, iPhone, iPad, PSP, Xbox, Blackberry to name a few).
- Maintains aspect ratio: in all conversion operations, without adding superfluous black bars on top and bottom.
- Little control over the output: aside from the pre-determined profiles. You cannot decide that you want your output file to be a max of 700 megs, for example, and have no say over output video or audio bitrate, etc. It always delivers a reasonable quality output though, and often results in an larger output file than the original as a consequence.
- Will frequently produce files that are bigger than you desire: see the point above.
- Does not burn to a high density DVD: which is rather unfortunate. It did not recognize my double density DVD as such.
- Does not seem to enlarge a video resolution: if your video is, say, 320 pixels wide and you choose the “480×320 iPhone MP4″ profile, your output video will not have a 480 pixel width; it will remain the same size at 320 width. Note that this is not necessarily a bad decision on the part of the software, as enlarging videos will only be at the expense of quality (and your output video will be playable on the iPhone anyway). Note that if your original video had been larger than 480 pixels in width the software would have scaled it down to selected 480 pixels.
- Does not output to flash SWF: although it does use it as an input.
- Does not convert audio formats to other audio formats: for a program that does SO MUCH, it seems that it should be converting audio to other audio formats , and that it would be easy to add. Consider this a wish list point not a criticism.
- Requires MS .NET Framework 4.0: I have made my peace with .NET framework, but some will find this inconvenient. Note that installing .NET Framework 4.0 on my Windows 7 took out more that a gig in hard drive space. Strange.
The verdict: this is an amazing program. It is easy to use, delivers good results, and – most notably – does SO MUCH, from converting videos and DVDs across formats to uploading to YouTube, converting video files to DVD, demuxing video files, editing, etc.
I have come to believe, in this age of Apple and the iPhone, that a clean, easy interface trumps all other considerations, which is what this app provides in spades. Yes I would have liked a little more control over the output, but as it is the program provides a lot of functionality delivered very well; highly recommended.
Having said that, perhaps the developers of this would consider an “advanced user” interface, whereby users can specify desired file size and the program could calculate the appropriate bitrate accordingly, etc. and tweak some of the other options (e.g. desired audio bitrate. etc). One could only hope.
Version Tested: 1.1.7
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7. Requires MS .NET Framework 4.0
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx. 10 megs).