REVIEW: Instant Handbrake

instant_handbreak.jpgI recently purchased a G5 Video iPod, and I’ve been looking for a simple solution for converting my DVDs to iPod Video. A Quick Google Search will show you there are several different options out there – some free, some not-so free. Last night, however, I found my favorite of the bunch – Instant Handbrake.

Handbreak has been around for a while now, and the full sized version of the program has a lot of cool features and tweaks that you can play around with, but Instant Handbrake is a little different. It’s dedicated specifically to the Video iPod and PSP…and it is ridiculously simple to use.

After you download the program, install it into your Application folder and launch it. You’ll see a small window (pictured at the top of the article) with a few options. You can insert a DVD into your drive, or point IH to a folder on your hard drive. Instant Handbrake will analyze the folder and then show you the separate video tracks, allowing you to select the ones you want to convert. I have read that some older DVDS – and a few of the new releases, like Stealth – give IH some trouble because of the way they were encoded, making it hard to find all of the video tracks on the disks. I didn’t have this problem with anything that I tested, but keep it in mind, none the less.

After you select the tracks you want to encode you Tell it where you want the file saved, what format you wanted it saved in, and a few other options then you simply click Convert. It can encode in H.264 or MPEG-4. MPEG-4 was much faster, and, to me at least, the slightly higher quality of the H.264 wasn’t worth the extra wait time.

After your video has finished converting, you simply import into iTunes, fill out the info on the file (so files will go in the right place, and you can keep everything organized), then load it onto your iPod and you’re ready to watch!

This software couldn’t be easier to use, and it really did a great job with converting everything I’ve tried so far. It didn’t completely eat my system alive either. I’m using a G1 low-end Mac Mini (I am a poor, poor man), and I was able to haveiTunes open (importing stuff onto my iPod), Adium, and Firefox with several tabs open while IH did it’s thing in the background.

It is important to note that is is still Beta software, and could be buggy – but I didn’t have any problems with it.
All-in-all, I think Instant Handbrake is a fantastic piece of Freeware (and something that would be well worth paying for).

Click Here to download Instant Handbrake

Do you know of a better DVD to Video iPod solution? Leave your comments below, and let us know!

Apple Gazette Team
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  1. Has Instant Handbrake been updated for the new hi-res ipod video capabilities? It doesn’t seem like it to me from the build dates.

  2. It doesn’t look like it. Instant Handbreak still makes files at 320 x 240. Hopefully they’ll update it soon.

  3. Cool CD Ripper is an extremely easy-to-use program that can rip audio CD tracks and save them into audio formats MP3, WAV, WMA (Windows Media Audio 9), and OGG Vorbis on-the-fly.

  4. Great application. Only problem is that the default language is French, and the prefs are grayed out so that this cannot be changed. Thus I’m usually halfway through a conversion when I realize I haven’t chosen English…my fault, but I wish there were a way to change the default.