I own a 160GB iPod Classic. This iPod doesn’t have ANY music on it what-so-ever. I use it as a video playing device, coupled with my Apple AV cables, and treat this in much the same way as a DVR. I brig it with me on the road for hotel use, to friends houses when I want them to see something in particular, and use it in my bedroom on a nightly basis watching old episodes of The Shied or OZ. It’s handy, and reliable. The biggest problem has always been the conversion of my DVD’s or AVI files I download from the web. I ALWAYS encode with H.264 for better quality, and a more universal standard. iPhone, iPod, PSP. It all works.
Encoding video is very processor extensive, and on my MacBook Pro would sometimes take an hour for a 2 hour movie to Encode, if not longer, and during that time, the processors were running at a very high capacity, making even surfing the web a Painful task. Sort of like watching paint dry.
I picked up the Elgato Turbo.264 for $99 at the Apple store after reading good things about the speed. It’s a USB dongle that acts as a co-processor when encoding H.264 video using their bundled software.
Now, I’m not going to get into a lengthy review on the technical side of the Elgato. you can go to their website and read all that mumbo jumbo yourself. My concern here is to tell you how it works for MY needs.
The same 2 hour movie that takes me 1 hour and 10 minutes using (the now dead) VisualHub, took a mere 32 minutes using the Turbo.264 and the Turbo software. The software is pretty basic, and doesn’t allow you to tweak much in terms of video quality. All the settings are pre sets for Apple TV, iPod High Video, iPod Standard, iPhone, Sony PSP, and the new YouTube video.
The only one I really use is the iPhone setting. This way, it’s great on my iPhone and iPod Touch, it plays on my iPod Classic, and when I output video to a SD TV, the quality is fine for me to watch. It’s as good as the TV feed.
Not only is it faster to encode on my MacBook Pro 2.53 GHz Intel Core Duo, which is already a screaming fast machine, but it frees up processor use so I can continue to surf the web for pornogra… Err, Umm… I mean, new mac products while I wait for the video to encode!
I’ve read a lot of good and bad about this product. Bad, being Elgato’s lack of updates to their software to fix problem issues, and better video control. Some setting are said to be very buggy, but for my needs, this thing really works well. I have also read that a couple of other video conversation software is compatible with the Turbo.264, so here’s hoping that HandBrake will adopt it soon. I’m still crushed VisualHub has gone away. VisualHub and the Elgato Turbo.264 working in harmony? Damn. I WISH.