HandBrake — An A.P.P.L.E. Review

Product : Handbrake
Version : 0.92
Cost : Free
License :  GPL
Platforms : Mac OS X, Linux, Windows
URL : http://handbrake.fr/

This month, we had the distinct pleasure of discovering a tool which makes video conversion an absolute breeze.  As a football player, all of our games have been recorded on DVD and Video.  While the Video could be recorded straight to the computer, the DVD presented some interesting issues.

We wanted to convert our video to a format which was compatible with our online TV station and maintain the quality of the video, yet make it small enough to fit into the 1gb upload space provided.  Handbrake not only provided us with the means to convert the videos but the results were nice even when run online in the smaller environment.

We did two types of conversions.  The first was to slam the DVD’s into a 100mb file that could easily be sent over the internet as an email attachment.  While this size file is not often used as an attachment, we find it nice for quick emailing among our team mates.

The second type of conversion we did was to 700mb size which maintains much of the quality while making the resulting file small enough to fit on a CD and remain in the 1gb requirement of the TV station.

Both of the files were in MP4 format and maintained MPEG4 / AAC Audio during the conversion.  The resulting files can be seen on JPFF TV.  There are samples of both the 100mb size as well as the 700mb size.

Features
This is just short list of some of the more prominent features of the program that we felt were worthy of mention.

Output formats include MP4, MKV, AVI, and OGM files.
AAC and / or AC3 audio output
MPEG4 and AVC/H.264 Video codecs
Bitrate and sampling rate customization
Dynamic Range Compression
Chapter Titling
Channel Selecting for Output

You can even optimize the MP4 files for the Internet with this program,.  We found that many of the features would never be used unless you were looking for a very specific look and feel to the output videos.  But it is nice to have those features handy when you need them.

Pro’s

Great quality videos result from the conversion at the 700mb level.  The 100mb level is great for smaller windows but obviously does not maintain the resolution of the original video.

The Program allows for Track-by-Track conversion, which is perfect if you want to break up a video into sections.  Handbrake also has AppleTV and iPhone support is also included in the latest version making it perfect for converting your DVD library for use with your iPhone and iTouch.

For those who want to make the program better, it is open source and you can download the source code from the same page as the program.

Cons

The quality suffers once you break the 500mb level.  This is not unexpected, thus it is not a real con.  The program does have a bad memory leak and crashes periodically.  This is the biggest problem with the program and we had to re-start several conversions.  Obviously, we cant complain because of the price but at the same time, the crashes are a little annoying.

Overall

We think this is a decent enough program to use in daily video conversions.   It does a good job converting and worked well for what we needed it for.  Obviously the price goes a long way in this book as well.  Hopefully future versions will include some bug fixes but we would still recommend it.

A.P.P.L.E. Rating
3 Apples our of 5

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About the Author

billm

A.P.P.L.E. Chairman of the Board and Club president — Bill worked for the founder, Val J. Golding and A.P.P.L.E. from 1981 to 1982. In 1999, he began archiving the materials which were distributed and sold by A.P.P.L.E.. That project led to the group that remained of A.P.P.L.E. Bill was involved in the financial industry in Tokyo and has over 20 major office infrastructure projects to his name. In March 2001, he retired to write books and to spend more time pursuing personal interests. As the president of the users group, Bill is in charge of distribution of Call-A.P.P.L.E. magazine as well as the organization of this web site. Bill currently resides in Tokyo, Japan and Shelton, Wa splitting time between the places.