Desperate for a deal after sleeping right through Wal-Mart's early-morning Black Friday frenzy? You're in luck. The best deal this holiday season may be just a download away.
That's right: Handbrake, arguably the world's best video transcoder, just hit version 0.9.4.
And boy, is it beautiful.
Handbrake hasfor ripping DVDs to my hard drive (saves battery life when watching videos while traveling and ensures my kids won't ruin the DVDs), but this particular version exceeds my expectations. Why? Because it delivers over 1,000 new enhancements while delivering better picture quality at a smaller file size and faster.
Or as the Handbrake developers say:
There's an old proverb in the video encoding world: "Speed, size, quality: pick two." It means that you always have to make a trade-off between the time it takes to encode a video, the amount of compression used, and the picture quality. Well, this release of HandBrake refuses to compromise. It picks all three.
This isn't hype. In my own use of the software during the past week, performance is noticeably faster, and picture quality is awesome.
Importantly, while the Handbrake developers have been hard at work over the past year to update the venerable video transcoder, the team owes a lot to developers from the x264 project:
A large portion of these speed, size, and quality improvements come to us for free, from the x264 project. The past year, like every year, has seen some massive improvements for that video encoding engine. As always, it has been further hand-optimized for better performance. But it has also gained new features like macroblock tree rate control and weighted P-Frame prediction.
This is how open-source development works: Handbrake focuses on what it does best (User interface, features like live preview, etc.) while leveraging the best of other project's strengths.
It's a recipe for a supereasy and very powerful transcoding experience. And at a 100 percent discount now through forever (Handbrake is open source and costs nothing to download), now is a good time to download it and let 'er rip, whether you run Mac (Intel 32-bit and 64-bit, plus PowerPC), Linux, or Windows.