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August 26, 2008

Turbocharge Your iPhone Video Conversions

I thought I was being smart by waiting for nearly a month after the iPhone 3G came out to buy one. Surely by then I could just waltz in at any time of day, and leave 10 minutes later with my shiny new toy?

Alas, that was not to be, so I joined about 25 other ihopefuls in a line outside the Emeryville, CA Apple Store at 7am on a sunny Saturday in early August. At 10:15, the deed was done, and I had my prize.

Of course, the first thing I did was rush home to copy over some music, photos and videos, so I could be prepared to show off pictures and movies of my five darling nephews to everyone I meet.

I also wanted to set up Roxio Streamer to send shows copied from my TiVo to my iPhone in real time. (Streamer runs on your broadband-connected Mac at home, and can automatically convert your latest TiVo recordings for streaming to your laptop or iPhone while you are on the road. It also works with any video you convert to the H.264 format, including home movies. Read all about it here.)

And then I hit the proverbial brick wall. While I have a fast Intel Core 2 Duo machine, converting all this video stopped my Mac in its tracks--it was good for pretty much nothing else while it was encoding. And since I work on the computer all day, that means that any encoding had to be set up at night and left to run while I was sleeping.

So I went back to the Apple Store and picked up a gadget I had heard about before, the Elgato Turbo.264, and decided to give it a whirl. No waiting in line this time! The Turbo.264 is a USB device the size of a thumb drive that essentially offloads the video conversion to its on-board processor, and relieves your Mac of the task. It works right within Toast. As long as the Turbo is plugged in, Toast will take advantage of it when converting video to send to Streamer or to iTunes.

After a quick software install, I plugged in the Turbo, opened Toast 9 and started converting a 15-minute video of my sister and twin nephews at the hospital when they were born. Presto! Aside from the progress bar telling me the conversion was happening, there was no slowdown, no CPU-hogging of my computer, and I could work as normal while the video processed in the background. Even better, the temperature in my MacBook Pro stayed down in the comfy 125F range, rather than the motherboard-melting and finger-burning 175F it usually reaches when encoding video.

Toast even tells you when the Turbo.264 is being used, right in the progress bar:

Turbo.264.jpg

The Turbo.264 worked exactly as advertised, relieving my MacBook of the processing chore and letting me continue to do other things while it worked. The one thing it did not do, since I have a fast 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo machine, is speed up the job. Encoding actually took a few extra minutes with the Turbo. Those with older or slower Macs (especially PowerPCs) will see serious speed increases, however.

After it's finished encoding, Toast sends your videos to iTunes for syncing to your iPhone or iPod. Here, my baby movies were placed in the TV shows folder:

Turbo.2642.jpg

Since I bought the Turbo, encoding has been painless and I don't have to worry about scheduling it during downtimes. That convenience also results in a lot more video getting converted that it would otherwise, which makes for one happy Auntie.

So next time you see me in the street, be sure to ask to see my iPhone, and all its contents!

About Toast

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to MyMoments in the Toast category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Photo is the previous category.

Video is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.