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Turbo.264 HD Review

Turbo.264 HD Review

High Definition video has pretty much reached the domestic market. The arrival of AVCHD has seen the firewire ports flounder on some Apple computers and SD card storage capacities boom with 16GB being the norm.

Also this year both Vimeo and YouTube rolled out their High Definition services and the affordability of HD cameras is meaning SD is becoming seconds class to its High Definition rival.

We recently reviewed the brilliant Panasonic HDC-SD100 offering at the higher end of the domestic market but HD doesn’t have to be expensive with a FlipVideo HD camera expected in the UK next month at just over ?100.

High Definition video puts higher demand on our hardware and brings with it a different way to import and manage footage. Regular DigMo! readers will already know we love the standard Elgato Turbo.264 (Review Link) USB hardware encoder and we are excited to get our hands on the newly upgraded Elgato Turbo.264 HD.

If you have the Turbo.264 you will be pretty familiar with the software that comes with it. On the surface little has changed but behind the scenes the software offers a mass of hidden new and upgraded features.

I will start by looking at the software thats ships with the device and then test the performance of the hardware towards the end of the article..

Elgato Turbo.264 HD Software:

The main software interface hasn’t changed with the HD release. The dial on the top right of the software displays red on startup and turns to black (with the max dial) with the Turbo.264 is connected to a USB port on your Mac.

software

To convert a video, simply drag it into the ‘Drag video files here.’, select the format you want the video to use (see later) and click the start button.

If you connect an AVCHD camcorder to your Mac an additional button appears on the main window entitled ‘Add Camcorder’ (see the screenshot above). This is the point when updated software really offers a massive advantage. Importing AVCHD footage using iMovie and Final Cut although faster than traditional firewire video importing still takes a fair bit of time. The Turbo.264 software quickly lists and indexes the AVCHD footage with a first frame thumbnail :

cam2

As you will see in the screenshot above you have the option of either importing (and converting) the footage as a single movie or, if you pull the slider to the left as individual movies. In this example I have 33 clips on my SD card but this will obviously change as the amount of video on the card changes.

The ability to import multiple clips is very useful if you need to quickly turn around a video and only need a section of the footage recorded or alternatively, if you are like me and forget to delete previously imported footage from the camera before starting the next shoot.

Double click on a video clip to watch a preview,

editing

Like Elgato’s EyeTv software the Turbo.264 software allows you to trim and edit footage before it is imported. Click the middle button to display in and out tabs on the video line.

In the reality of most domestic setups this level of editing is all most users need to remove ‘dud’ footage from clips. It is easy to quickly trim a video to the essential clip and click done to go back to the export options. In this case I have opted for exporting the 30 second clip at 1080p. This took around 1 min.

export

In this case I exported at 1080p but the software offers a great range of presets and also hosts the ability to customise these to your own particular requirements. The user has full control over the video and audio and there are even options for Dolby sound.

As well as local file formats the software also offers support for both the YouTube and YouTube HD video sharing services. I’d love to see support on application for the upcoming sharing site Vimeo but no doubt as more of use the service these will come in time.

formats

Anyone who is thinking of buying the Elgato Turbo.264 HD is going to be primarily interested in performance. The great plus of this hardware is that it offers acceleration to not only the application that it ships with but other applications such as iMovie, Final Cut and Elgato’s own EyeTV software.

The Test:
I opted to export a 3 minute and 28 second clip from a TV programme I recorded on EyeTV recently. The first stage of the test was to export the clip in AppleTV format without the Turbo.264HD connected. I am using a standard 2.8GHZ 24?iMac.

test1
The final time for export to AppleTV : 3 mins and 8 seconds. I then connected the Turbo.264 and re-ran the export. I felt if the Turbo.264 HD was able to convert the video in under 2 minutes it was a definite winner, the results were spectacular  :

test2

The Turbo.264 converted the same clip in well under my predicted two minutes and actually converted it in less of a third the time : 1 minute in total. I repeated both conversions twice with similar results.

I think this is particularly impressive. As most of my daily conversion isn’t actually HD and involves the EyeTV software the Turbo.264 accelerator offers a massive advantage to this particular work flow.


I really can’t be more positive about this device. Computing has become more and more media centric and the ability to quickly edit and convert video is now almost essential. If you own a TV device with the EyeTv 3 software then this device is verging on essential.

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If you convert on a regular basis whether for video podcasts, family video or even professionally I would highly recommend the hardware acceleration this device offers. The fact I was able to export the same click in less than one third the time with the Turbo.264 makes it a complete no brainer for my set up.

The only negative is that the increased resolution of HD seems to have brought with it an increase in price. The Turbo.264 costs ?
139.95 but it offers considerable advantage especially if you are an AVCHD camcorder owner !

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