Handbrake: A review

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everybody.

This review will be just a quick one. I’m not an expert with this sort of thing and have only dabbled with it from time to time…

What is it?

Handbrake is simply a transcoder. It converts DVD’s to video files and video files from one format to another.

Does it work?

Yes. It does what it was designed to do quite well and actually is fairly stable in spite of having not been updated in a while.

What platforms does it run on?

It is cross-platform. It will run on Mac (Intel), Linux, and Windows. I reviewed the 32 bit Mac version.

Where can it be found?


How much does it cost?

Like almost everything I review, it is free to use.

Any thoughts?

Yes. Plenty.

I rather like the interface. All the information is on the screen where I need it. It is quite intuitive. It even includes tool tips if anyone wants to know what the various settings do.

As I said, it converts DVD’s to video files as well as  video files from one format to another. I’m not sure how many formats are accepted for the source file. The output file will be one of two formats. It will be either an MP4 or MKV. There are lots of options for both.

It is possible to include subtitles with the final file. The program will look for internal or external text streams and add them to the resulting file. Through experimentation I found it is possible to add them as hard subs (as part of the video) or soft subs (the player displays them as a separate stream on the screen).

More features include optimisations for Macs and iPods.

Of all the similar tools I’ve used, it is on the slower side of things. For a 25 minute file it can take over an hour to convert.

In many countries (including Canada in a few weeks) this program is considered illegal since it bypasses the encryption of the original file in order to produce the new file.

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About the Author


Mike Pfaiffer was President of A.P.P.L.E. and also the president of Digital Civilization magazine, a monthly UNIX magaine. Mike wrote a number of articles for A.P.P.L.E. and sadly passed away 19 July 2013 at age 54. https://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/passage-details/id-205359/Michael_Pfaiffer