The Apple iPod has been around for only five years, and we’ve already seen quite the revolution in portable multimedia enjoyment. Nearly everyone is rocking an MP3 player these days, and more and more people are jumping into the handheld video market. Typically, videos are not designed to be watched on those smaller screens, so oftentimes you need to convert your movies into a format better suited to handhelds. You need some decent software to do that for you. Here is one such solution.
The M2Convert Multimedia Software from M2 Solutions Inc. comes in five different packages:
– M2Convert for iPod
– M2Convert for PSP
– M2Convert for Smartphones
– M2Convert for Zen
– M2Convert Professional
The first four are $30 a pop, whereas the granddaddy of them all, M2Convert Pro, will run you $90. The full Professional package essentially has all the functionality of the other editions, with the added ability to selectively rip content from DVDs, as well as a whole host of other video conversions that you may otherwise be interested in doing.
One of the biggest pluses of this software is the sheer range of formats it supports, both as input and output. Among these are AVI, ASF, WMV, MPEG1/2/4, OGG, MOV, and DivX. Several codecs are involved here as well, like the popular H.264. They even give you the ability to do some mild video editing with the inclusion of several (50+) audio and video effects.
Data size is a very important thing to consider when loading some videos up onto your favorite smartphone, PSP, iPod, or Creative Zen. As such, a good compression solution is invaluable, especially if it doesn’t take away too much from the video quality. I think that the M2Convert does a fairly good job at this. When I tried compressing and converting a standard 20-30 minute television program for viewing on my newly acquiring Sony PlayStation Portable, it managed to squish it down to just 35MB. This is fantastic for people who don’t rock 1GB or 2GB Memory Sticks.
That said, I found that the conversion process took a little too long. For the above mentioned video file, it took a touch over an hour to convert (I asked it to convert an AVI into a PSP-friendly MP4 on the lowest video quality setting). When I tried upping the quality, the conversion process took even longer (about an hour and a half). Needless to say, if you want to convert a lot of video files, you may be best advised to load up the task list and let it run overnight.
The user interface is fairly straightforward for M2Convert Professional, with an icon-based list of “common tasks” on the right-hand-side of the window. This made it quick for me to start the task that I needed to get done. You can queue up as many “tasks” as you’d like in the main window, but as soon as you click on the Play button (which starts the conversion process), you cannot add any additional tasks to the list until they are all completed. As expected, there is a progress meter for each conversion.
People not particularly familiar with all the different codecs, file formats, and such may find the long list a little (or very) intimidating. I just left everything at the default settings (except for lowering the quality) for my PSP conversion, but other processes may be more complicated. This could be especially true when ripping a DVD or doing some minor video editing, as M2Convert Professional allows you to join files, split files, extract portions, create custom DVD menus (with titles, chapters, etc), and so on. If you’d like, you can even change a 4:3 video into a 16:9 widescreen one, a very nice option for PSP owners, for example. All of these options are accessed through the lower left part of the program window, where you can adjust general settings, file settings, and so forth.
In the end, I’m not sure if I’d be willing to drop $90 on a download (for the Pro), as there are freeware solutions out there that can perform similarly. Strangely, the first time around, I got an error message when the conversion hit 100% telling me something about the current codec not being supported and that the conversion could not be completed. This was quite frustrating, given that I had already waited an hour for the process to finish. When I gave it a second whirl, lowering the quality setting, it converted fine. I’m not really sure what went wrong the first time, so I’m not completely certain whether it was an isolated event.
M2Convert Professional does come with a full bevy of options, codec supports, and effects, and as such, it truly is a complete DVD-ripping, writing, and video converting solution. You will not need any other software to do your basic movie converting and compressing needs, including producing custom backups of your favorite DVDs. I would have liked it to be more affordable, and — perhaps more importantly — if it was a little more newbie-friendly.
Check out the M2 Solutions Inc. for more details and to purchase M2Convert for iPod, for PSP, for Zen, for Smartphones, and Professional.