One-size-fits-all pantyhose is a trend that came and went. Why? No matter what they say, one size doesn’t fit all. When it comes to audio and video file formats, one size doesn’t fit all, either.
The movies and media that work on your Mac or PC do not necessarily work on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad without a file conversion. So, why doesn’t Apple give us a one-size-fits-all file format? Or, a tool that makes it happen?
Ask, And Ye Shall Receive (but not yet)!
Do you know how many audio and video file formats there are? Dozens. Even the more popular ones don’t all work on all browsers or all portable media devices.
If necessity is the mother of invention, it’s time to Think Different™ and make me a happy Mac mommy. Somebody. Please.
A long time ago, on a developer’s web site far far away, ReelBean was born—a Mac media converter and player app. One among many, and none of which make media file format converting an easy, seamless, painless process.
In other words, ReelBean converts audio and video file formats, one to another, with the end objective that a movie or song that plays on one device will, with some clicking and praying, play on the device you want it to play (on).
At first glance, ReelBean works as advertised. The player will play over four dozen different audio and video formats. File formats can be converted, one to another, with a click or two.
That includes popular file formats such as MP3, QuickTime, AAC, WAV, AVI, H.264, MPEG-4, AU, DV, FLC, Windows Media Video, FLV, DivX, and more. Also, ReelBean makes it easy to convert files from your Mac so they’ll play on your iPod, AppleTV, iPhone or iPad, and other portable devices.
As player converters go, this one is straightforward to use, but comes with an attached string or two. Tools on the Toolbar are self explanatory at the basic level, but some can get complicated quickly.
Functions include options to extract audio and video tracks and save them as new files. Video frames can be saved as images. Audio tracks can be added to videos.
ReelBean plays DVDs, plays streaming videos from online sources, provides QuickTime-like editing controls, records audio clips, and even adds annotations to videos.
In other words, this sounds just like the inexpensive Mac app you need to overcome the plethora of audio and video file format craziness that has infected all the major media devices for years.
ReelBean is actually easy to use, has a nominal price tag, comes with both video and audio tweaking tools, and works as try-before-you-buy—except for the file conversion. Basically, you can dink around with it, but you have to buy it before you can see how well it converts media files.
Clicking on a few of the tools returns a pop up warning that the tools are only available in the Pro version (the one you pay money to use). Hello? That’s crippleware. Easy to use, yes. But crippleware, nonetheless. That said, the Pro version opens all the functions you wanted to try out before shelling out your hard-earned cash.
Are there alternatives? As it turns out, plenty, but each with a caveat or two. Or three. For ripping DVDs, HandBrake is king. Permute is easier to use than ReelBean, costs a penny less, does less, is available on the Mac App Store, too, and has a try-before-you-buy option. iFFmpeg also converts audio and video files from this to that and back, but requires a copy of the free FFmpeg app, which is totally for geeks, and not for the rest of us.
Confused yet? See? One size doesn’t fit all. Really. It doesn’t.