Apple has a problem and needs a solution. Fast. Exactly. Fast. Movie file conversions from one format to another take forever, even on a PowerMac with dual CPUs. Don’t expect Intel Macs to be much better.
The problem is simple and about to hit mainstream. Movie files. There’s Windows Media (video and audio). There’s QuickTime. There’s H.264. There’s twenty eleven other formats and they don’t all like each other.
Your digital video camera probably saves in DV format (miniDV, DVcam, etc). Those movie files are huge. QuickTime plays them all, even converts some. Spend $30 and QuickTime Pro converts most of the rest and adds new features.
But movie files are huge and take forever to convert from one format to another. Now Apple adds H.264 (very high quality, and widescreen capable) and the new iPod with video.
Converting movies to run on the iPod is not a chore. It’s simple. Click. Click. Go to lunch, jog awhile, get your nails done, wash the car. Seriously.
File conversions of movies is a time consuming, horsepower required chore and there’s no solution in sight.
Well, let me take that back. There’s two solutions in sight.
The first is iSquint, which appears to be a take on squeezing movie file sizes to fit the iPod’s new format. The second is a hardware solution, which is the only way we’ll really speed up movie file size conversion wait times (whew; all that in once sentence).
In the meantime, my new friends is iSquint. Why? It’s simple. It’s easy. It works. It’s faster. Faster than QuickTime Pro in some cases. Did I mention that iSquint is free.
One of the complaints the Mac360 staff has had with all these movie formats and conversion requirements is Time and Horsepower. The conversions took too much time (sometimes twice as long as the length of the video itself). Even on a dual CPU PowerMac.
iSquint doesn’t make that complaint go away, but it helps.
Simply put, iSquint is an iPod with video conversion application for Mac OS X. But, you say, you don’t have an iPod with video, right? One day you will. For a few million Apple customers, that day has come already.
Even if you don’t plan to watch Titanic on an iPod, buying a version of your favorite movies and TV shows from the iTunes Music Store (gotta find another name for the movies section), is just around the corner.
Those movies get stored in iTunes and, as with all movies, come in different formats, some of which require conversion. iSquint converts.
Open iSquint. Drag in your movie. Click the Start button.
If you like fiddling with settings and sizes and such, iSquint gives you choices, too. Optimize for TV. Optimize for iPod. Add to iTunes (my favorite). Add H.264 Encoding. The ever present “Advanced” button is there, too, but opens up the not-so-popular view pane to the side of iSquint.
For Quality, you get a slider bar which defaults at Standard (in the middle), with Tiny on the left, and Go Nuts on the right. Another button lets you change the location to save the converted file.
Then click Start. It’s that easy.
In a few tests, iSquint is faster than QuickTime Pro at converting certain formats, particularly H.264. File quality, when played back in QuickTime was indistringuishable between the two.
Elgato’s new EyeTV 2.0 has conversion capability, too, and improved over the previous 1.8.4 version, especially the iPod conversion. iSquint was faster in my timing tests.
Even better, on my Mac, iSquint actually converted a TV show to iPod-screen-size in about real time.
The TV show was 30-minutes, and it took about 31 minutes to convert. That may seem slow, but it’s faster, much faster, than it has been.
If you have the Flip4Mac Windows Media plug in for QuickTime (also free), then iSquint will convert that, too. iSquint claims to convert DivX and AVI, though I didn’t try either (I have my pride). Even anamorphic MPEG-2 and HDV files are detected and converted.
The problem is simple. It takes forever to convert movie files from one format to another to view on your iPod video or from within iTunes. iSquint makes the job simple, less confusing, and speeds up the process. And it’s free (though you can donate; the developer ask you to help him not starve).
In the meantime, we wait. I look forward to Apple including a hardware-based solution somewhere down the road. After all, I have Apple Taxes to pay. I want something in return. Click Here for the iSquint details and free download (and donation button).
Tera Jean Patricks
Bambi and I both complained of the time required to convert for iPod video and iTunes. This helps.
Just watch. Apple will include a hardware solution in next gen Intel Macs.
Jack D. Miller
I can only imagine the grumbling we’ll hear when users have to convert their non-iTMS movies for iPod video. Ouch.