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iSquint 1.3.1iPod video conversion software
Developer: Tyler Loch (http://www.isquint.org)
Platform: Mac OS X (Universal Binary)
Price: Freeware (donations accepted)
Users: Anybody with a video-capable iPod, as well as people who want to encode their content for iPod users.
iPod accessories are, by and large, both mind-bogglingly useless and expensive. I mean, who are you people who spend $50 on an FM receiver? Or $30 on a gaudy plastic cover? I don't get it. I also don't get that when along comes something for the iPod that's actually useful, it turns out to be free. Go figure.
That something useful is iSquint 1.3.1 from Tyler Loch. iSquint is a software tool for converting video in virtually any format to video suitable for the iPod. It's fast; it's full-featured; and it's entirely free.
The sole purpose of iSquint is to convert video sources to MPEG-4--primarily for use on iPods, though it's also capable of producing slightly higher-resolution video as well. Input formats include everything from standard QuickTime movies to AVI, DivX, Windows Media, Flash video and all sorts of MPEG formats. This includes .vob files and MPEG-1 files with audio. (Yes, unlike QuickTime Pro, the free iSquint can actually process muxed MPEG-1 files and output them to MPEG-4 without losing the audio.) What's more, it doesn't rely on QuickTime Pro, and it doesn't require any particular codecs to be installed ahead of time. All of the functionality is contained within this little application.
It also has automatic aspect ratio detection, including HDV and anamorphic MPEG-2.
For output, iSquint includes simple settings for optimizing for iPod video or television, as well as a quality slider, an option to use H.264 encoding and an option to add output to your iTunes library.
In addition, it also offers custom advanced controls, which include crop, image resizing, custom bitrates, custom frame rates and a deinterlacing filter.
For advanced audio encoding options, it includes custom bitrates, frequencies ranging from 11 kHz to 48 kHz and stereo and mono options.
Ease of use
The strength of iSquint (aside from its freeness) is its ability to handle source formats that the $30 QuickTime Pro simply can't deal with. Even Compressor 2 can't handle muxed MPEG-1 sources properly. But it's also quite simple to use. All you have to do is drag files into the main window and then click the "Start" button. You can drag any number of files into the source window, then batch process them with no further intervention, and they'll be saved automatically in their original locations.
You can also set a custom location by hitting the "Change" button near the bottom of the interface.
So it's that simple. Drag in your files; start encoding them immediately. How much easier could it get?
As a side benefit, once you finish encoding, the source files remain in the source window, so you can perform additional encodes, if desired.
As for performance, this was an area where I was a little disappointed. Not that iSquint is particularly slow, but on my dual 2 GHz G5, it seemed to run at the same speed as QuickTime Pro--except in the case of HD source footage, where iSquint was considerably slower.
When transcoding MPEG-1 footage (with audio) to MPEG-4, I experienced an encode rate of about 0.8 seconds per second of footage. QuickTime Pro was negligibly slower and did not include audio in the final encode. When encoding 720 x 486 QuickTime movie sources, I got an encode rate of 0.7 to 0.8 seconds per second of footage. This was identical to QuickTime Pro when using that program's "Movie to iPod Video" export option. With 720p HD footage, the encode rate was 2 seconds for every second of footage. QuickTime Pro did it in about half the time using the "Movie to iPod Video" export option.
So iSquint isn't particularly slow, being roughly on par with QuickTime Pro (though not with HD source footage), but it's not as fast as advertised--at least not with my test footage.
H.264 encoding, incidentally, is slower than MPEG-4 encoding, taking about 50 percent longer to encode identical files.
I will say that iSquint seems to produce higher-quality results than QuickTime Pro's "Movie to iPod Video" export setting in terms of color and clarity. File sizes of the final video are about the same whether you're using QuickTime Pro or iSquint, but, of course, you can adjust iSquint's output settings to produces smaller files.
The bottom line
Overall, iSquint is a fantastic encoding tool for people who want to put video on their iPods or for those who want to transcode their programs for iPod users. It handles files that QuickTime Pro (and Compressor) can't deal with; it produces video of reasonable quality; it's simple to use; it allows you to batch process any number of files of varying types; and, best of all, it's free. You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying out iSquint. I highly recommend checking it out.
iSquint is available now for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later as a Universal Binary. It's free to use. To download this software or find out more information, visit http://www.isquint.org.
Related Keywords:isquint, ipod video encoding, ipod video conversion, convert to ipod, transcode ipod video, mpeg-1, quicktime, divx, wmv
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