And the winner is: AVS Video Converter

Been on the hunt for a good video converter for a while.  See, I take a lot of videos when I play games (using Fraps).  Fraps takes good video captures, but the files are humongous.  As a result, I blow through hard drive space like crazy (i.e. use up an entire 2TB drive in less than 1 week).

I know Fraps does not do much compression at capture time, and needed to be compressed afterwards using a video compression tool.  My problem was that I was unable to find the right tool.  Fraps site recommends using Windows Movie Maker.  Unfortunately Microsoft no longer offers that.  Instead, you get Windows Live Movie Maker.  It’s a good tool, but it adds the damn black border which makes it not an option (see my previous post about this).

Since then I have been in search for a reasonable tool.  I have checked many many different tools, paid and free, and they all had their problems.  Some examples:

  1. DivX cannot even open the file.
  2. Sony Vegas Pro messaged that it will take 22 hours to render a  1GB source file, and was never able to actually complete it (i.e. after a full night it’s still seating at 0% rendered).  Considering most of my files are >4GB, this is a no go.
  3. Most other software, including Cyberlink PowerDirector, Adobe Premiere, Digital Media Converter, etc., all lost video quality dramatically.
  4. Corel VideoStudio seems to be able to preserve the video quality, but adds the same black border around.  So why would I pay for a software to get just the same result as free Windows Live Movie Maker.

In the past 2 weeks I’ve tried dozens of different video editing/conversion software.  Eventually I came upon AVS Video Converter, and here’s the result:

image

Source file size: 4,151,106KB.  Converted file size: 53,388KB.

Beautiful!!!!  This is exactly what I needed.  Now I can convert all those big files and store them properly for future use.  Yippy!

A note about licensing fees

If you read the CNET review on this product,  you’ll find a criticism of the licensing model of this product.  Here’s the excerpt:

Pros

It’s actually a very good program that converts all sorts of different formats. The included profiles are very good and very helpful.

Cons

When you buy a license for this software it’s only good for one computer and one install, you can never reinstall it. So for example if your computer crashes and gets rebuilt or say you just want upgrade to a new computer AVS will make you buy a NEW license. When a license is registered once it can never be used again. If you look in their license FAQ it is clearly stated. I ran into this when I rebuilt my machine and AVS told me I was screwed and to rebuy the license. That’s the worst licensing model I’ve ever seen.

Read more: AVS Video Converter – CNET Download.com http://download.cnet.com/AVS-Video-Converter/3000-2194_4-10629027.html#rateit#ixzz29ynlzUSe

This is actually a very valid point and should be taken into consideration when you make your purchasing decision.  The way the AVS licensing model works is that you pay for a subscription to use their products. While your subscription is active you can use ALL of their products, not just selected ones.  They offer 1 year or life-time subscription. 

Normally, unlimited subscription is $199 and 1-year subscription is $69.  Right now there’s promotion going for $59 for unlimited and $39 for 1 year.  The promotion is good until October 31, 2012.  I don’t know how often they run their promotions so I don’t know if the discounted price is something people can count on.

The subscription is good for one machine and one machine only, so if you buy a new computer you’ll have to buy a new subscription (think TiVo).  If you primarily work on the same machine this may not be an issue.  However if you routinely do your video work on multiple machines this may not work for you, or you will have to buy multiple licenses.

For me, I decided to go ahead and purchase it.  In addition to the fact it’s the only software that meets my need so far (which kinda makes it a non-decision), the following also were also considered:

  1. I primarily work on one single machine when it comes to video work
  2. The software is really easy to use.
  3. If I should need to put it on a second machine, it’s just another $59 for a total of less than $120.  Other software are not running that much cheaper (PowerDirector 11 is $99.99, Sony Vegas Pro 12 run from $599.995, Corel Video Studio Pro X5 is listd as $59.99 but for what I need it doesn’t offer more than what free Windows Live Movie Maker gives me).
  4. I just got a new computer literally less than a month ago, so I won’t be changing computer any time soon.  I should have at least a good 2-3 years on this computer, if not more.

BTW, a note on rebuild.  Contrary to what the CNET review says, rebuilding of the same machine appears to be covered in the licensing. This is what AVS’s FAQ says on this topic:

  1. My personal computer crashed and I had to reformat my computer hard disk drive. May I use the old license as I do not want to buy a new one?

    Yes, you may. Please download the latest versions of our software from the www.avs4you.com web site, install and activate them using the license that you have. If you lost your registration information, please try our online license retrieval tool first, or fill out our support form to restore your lost registration information. Please do not forget to provide your first and last name and your e-mail.

  1. My personal computer crashed and I had to reformat my computer hard disk drive. How can I restore all your programs and their registration information?

    After you reinstall the operating system, please download the latest versions of our software from the www.avs4you.com web site, install and activate them using the license that you have. If you lost your registration information, please try our online license retrieval tool first, or fill out our support form to restore your lost registration information. Please do not forget to provide your first and last name and your e-mail.

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