With so many different audio and video standards and so many devices capable of playing them back it’s commonplace to find you’ve got some media you’d like to enjoy, but can’t quite get to work with your hardware or software player. This is where Mediavator’s Media Toolkit Ultimate Edition comes in – as it’s an all-in-one way to download, convert, rip and then convert again audio and video, stored in dozens of popular file formats.
For the price, you get five separate products, each with its own lengthy serial number that has to be entered laboriously on the first time you want to run each program. There’s a Blu-ray ripper, DVD converter, audio converter, video converter and finally, YouTube converter. Individually, these programs are available for between £18.99 and £31.99. In the Media Toolkit Ultimate Edition they’re bundled together, for £79.99 in both Windows and OS X versions – if you’re into video and audio conversion, that’s a good deal.
The video, DVD, Blu-ray and audio converters all share the same basic interface that is clearly an advantage, though it’s not all plain sailing and some of the icons don’t seem to reflect their function very well. As an example of this, the Convert icon has an arrow on it in the style usually associated with an Undo command. In addition, real beginners may find the notion of a ‘Profile’ (basically the end format you want the media converted into) a bit confusing.
However, the programs do their best to shield users from too much technical mumbo-jumbo and allow you to choose a file type by device, as well as multimedia format. This is because casual users are more likely to know that they want to watch the video on their iPod or PS3, rather than that they require it in ASF or MPEG4 format. The YouTube converter is slightly different, in that it diverts to the YouTube website where you can use the built in tools to find videos. This is after the program downloads that video, then converts into your chosen format.
The Toolkit understands all the common DVD formats (including Blu-ray) and outputs to most popular video formats, including AVI, AVI HD, MPEG, WMV, MP4, MKV, FLV, SWF, H.264/PMED-4, AVC, DivX, XviD, MOV, RM, ASF, 3GP, 3G2, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, SVCD, VCD, VOB, TS, and MPEG2 PS. In terms of audio, it’ll output to MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, FLAC, APE, OGG, RA, MAA, AC3, MP2, AMR, and Sun’s AU format (yes, the one used on the NeXT workstation!).
This flexibility means you’ll be able to play the results on all manner of popular devices – smartphones, tablets, Xbox, PSPs, Wii and DS boxes, as well as Windows-based PCs and Macs. It’s also possible to choose specific sections of video, add titles, simple effects, transitions and fiddle with audio files, fading in and out, normalising or adding effects. If you’ve got a single video or music file you’d like to run on multiple devices, you can define more than one output profile and set all the conversions to run at the same time.
We noticed some distortion and occasional lip-synch problems on some DVD conversions which we couldn’t tweak our way around. Occasionally a YouTube video would fritz out and refuse to download properly, but on the whole, the Toolkit behaved itself admirably. And at this price, the bundle represents good value over buying the products individually – though it’d be nice if Mediavatar had spent a little time integrating the products so that they could be registered with a single code. Apart from that, and of course the final caveat – users should be able to enjoy music and video that they’ve bought or have a right to without restrictions, at the same time as providers should be able to protect content.
Company: Binary Distribution
- Sheer range of supported devices and file formats.
- Occasional soundtrack issues afflict DVDs.
The Swiss Army Knife of conversion tools, which is easy enough for the casual user to pick up at speed and powerful enough for real knob twiddlers who know their sample rates – from their bit rates, and recognise a good codec when they see one. We couldn’t get to the bottom of the distorted sound and synch issues on a couple of DVD conversions, but everything else was pretty flawless; compared with buying the product individually, it’s excellent value.