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Elgato turbo.264 (h.264 Video Encoder) Review

on March 4, 2009 1:00 am

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The turbo.264 video encoder from Elgato has been available for several years. Software improvements along the way, have only made it more useful (and easier) for those who convert video content into the h.264 format. While it has been on the market for quite some time, this device is truly in a class by itself. Put bluntly, the turbo.264 sole purpose in life is to convert video into h.264 while reducing the burden on your processor and accomplishing the feat in a fraction of the time.

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This Mac-centric device is slightly bigger than a large flash drive and greatly resembles the first-generation iPod shuffle.

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Package Contents

  • The turbo.264 dongle
  • Dongle cap
  • USB cable
  • Software disk
  • Quick start guide

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Translating video from one format to another is a very processor intensive task. Both my 2.4ghz Macbook Pro (4gb of ram) and iMac (1gb of ram) use nearly all of their horsepower to churn thru this process. So much so, that if I do anything else while they are thinking, the video has a high likelihood of glitches from multi-tasking. To lighten this load, inside the turbo.264 there is a dedicated chip that reduces the amount of CPU needed, thus allowing me to do other tasks along the way.

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The turbo.264 includes its own conversion software. Plus it has the ability to be used by other applications, such as; EyeTV, Quicktime, Final Cut Pro, and iMovie. However, it does not work on protected media, such as DVD/Handbrake. Once you drag-and-drop the turbo.264 application into your Applications folder, you’re good to go. The software is very easy to use, simply drag the video file into the application window. Elgato provides pre-configured options for conversion based on the device: iPod (high), iPod (low), PSP, iPhone, and Apple TV.

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Within the top banner there is a speedometer which shows the device is connected and counters that show how long the conversion (theoretically) will take and what frame rate is being achieved.

Conversion Speed Comparison

turbo.264
File Type
Size
Duration
% CPU
no
EyeTV
1.6gb/0:34
24 min
165
yes
EyeTV
1.6gb/0:34
16 min
74
. . . . .
Handbrake
DVD
7.5gb/2:48
87 min
180
yes
.vob
7.5gb/2:48
80 min
55
. . . . .
no
QT
261mb/6min
12
150
yes
QT
261mb/6min
3
60
** 2.4ghz iMac w/1gb of ram

Depending on the file type and application used to do the conversion, the turbo.264 dongle greatly reduces the time it takes my computer to do the conversion. The CPU is only working about 40% as hard with the turbo.264 than without. Although, I do need to tell you, while dancing the Net and checking emails there were no delays, but my iMac did hang a bit when starting up and using Photoshop during the turbo.264 conversion (but I really believe that is more a function of needing additional ram).

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To conclude, I think the turbo.264 is a great device for those converting video to the h.264 format. And while this is a bit of a niche device, the concept and functionality of the device is good, especially for those that do a lot of video conversion. I am pleased with the turbo.264 and would recommend it any and all who do more than the occasional video formatting to h.264.

 

Product Information

Price:$99.00
Manufacturer:Elgato
Pros:
  • Expedites video conversion
  • Reduces load on processor
  • Allows for greater multi-tasking during processing
  • Intuitive and very easy to use
  • Batch conversion
Cons:
  • None

Comments

  1. 1
    Jackie says:

    Wish they had a PC version also.

  2. 2
    Robby says:

    You can do hardware-assisted H.264 on newer NVIDIA and AMD GPUs on PCs with their respective programs.

  3. 3
    jim says:

    Jackie, There is a PC version its called Video To Go manufactured by ADS Technology and is basically the same exact hardware as Turbo 264, the difference is (I’ve heard) ADS doesnt update its software nearly as much as Elgato and has some limitations because of that.

    http://www.adstech.com/products/RDX-160/intro/RDX-160_intro.asp?pid=RDX-160

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