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Turbo.264 Video Encoder

Elgato encoder purrs along. By Michael Smith
Elgato, makers of eyetv 3, have come out with another way to convert your video files.  The turbo.264 is a quick and easy way to convert your videos to H.264(mp4) files.  You can play the resulting files on several players.  Most importantly, this Mac software is a perfect way to get your video to your iTunes list for export to you iPhone or iPod (and Apple TV or Sony PSP).  This week, Michael Smith took delivery of his elgato turbo system and immediately went to work unboxing the package.  Here is his walkthrough.

The Turbo.264 from Elgato, as described on the website as: "H.264 Video Encoder Hardware.  Turbo charged exports to your iPod, iPhone and AppleTV."  I'd been wanting to get one of these for a while, and purchased one.  It arrived today.

Upon opening the box, you are presented with the USB Stick, a USB extension cable, A Quick Start Guide, and a disk which contains the software.  It's really simple and obvious to set up.   Unless you're completely unfamiliar with the common USB connection, you'll find it takes only seconds to get the USB hardware into the port directly.  Alternatively, you can use the extension cable which allows you to insert the USB into a distant socket.

When you run the elgato turbo program for the first time, it prompts you to register, and that's it.  Automatically, It also does a check for newer version of the software, but that's normal for most programs.  This will also check for updates periodically to ensure that you have the best version of the interface operation.

This is the interface that you are presented with when the application launches. 
As you can see from the picture all you need to do, is drag and drop the file you want it to compress into the program, or you can click the + (plus) sign which will open a finder window so you can directly select a file path.

From the format drop down menu you have a choice of pre-defined compression choices, or you edit a setting and configure the settings. iPod has two basic settings (without going to advanced menus).  iPod High and iPod Standard.  Both are fine for generic viewing.

By clicking on the edit menu, you are presented with a menu to help you modify the settings for the "built-in" presets.


In contrast, the preference pane for the software, is quite simple.  There is only a single panel, giving you the option for two separate preference controls: where saved encoded files go, and control for checking updates.


Now to the fun it: the encoding.  The video I'm goint to compress for this review runs for 5 mins 50 secs.  

Exiting from FINAL CUT PRO, the file is over 823MB (DV PAL) with a 16bit Stereo audio embedded (48K)

Using elgato turbo.264 in iPod Standard mode, within a matter of seconds it says it's going to take 4 minutes with a current speed of aroudn 45 fps, though it speeds up, and went as high as 50 fps to process.    The end file, is a .mp4, and is a 34.4 MB file.

Now doing the same with QuickTime Pro same settings as far as I can tell, due to not being able to choose between Standard and High.  At first it says it will take about 30 minutes, but then goes down to 10 minutes.  It speeds up even faster at the end.  After about 8 minutes it's done, and the file size is aroudn 67.9 MB (H264 with AAC Stereo audio).

I'm just re-comressing the clip, using the iPod Hi format, and it's comes in at 67.7 MB.

I've also used it to encode longer videos.  Over the weekend I encoded a 44 minutes video using a customised setting, at a resolution of 320x240.  It only took 16 minutes to encode that, without acutally trying it in QuickTime Pro, I think it's safe to say that the iPod Hi format is definitely faster than QuickTime Pro ever was.

A file originally 8.76GB compressed to a slim 258MB file with excellent quality.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Elgato Turbo.264 if you need to compress video quickly.

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Michael Smith is a student at the University of Derby / Devonshire Road. Currently living in Buxton Derbyshire, England, Michael works on several aspects of digital video projects using a Mac. In addition to Apple's hardware and software, Michael relies on a Canon MVX250i camcorder, a Behringer mixing board and a variety of microphones. Michael is also a featured writer and part of the NinjaCrayon community.
Related Keywords:review, product review, elgato, el gato, eyetv, turbo264, digital encoding, encoding hardware, USB encoder, AppleTV, iPhone, iPod encoding


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