A new consumer-focused video conversion application offers grid software features at a bargain price.

It’s called VisualHub and is manufactured by TechSpansion. On the one hand it's a simple three-step video conversion application from the makers of iSquint. On the other it's a Universal binary application that supports Apple's Xgrid software, which is available within Mac OS X 10.4 Server (£349 for ten clients,£699 for Unlimited clients).

As Apple describes Xgrid, it "makes it easy to turn an ad hoc group of Macs into a low-cost supercomputer by streamlining the process of assembling nodes, submitting jobs, and retrieving results". It's a slice of Apple technology that's already widely used by scientists, animators and digital content creators.

Xgrid allows a user to combine the processing power of multiple Macs across a network for batch encoding of video. This makes for significantly faster conversion and transforms the application into a prime example of entry-level grid computing - ideal for busy video makers with large numbers of Macs deployed.

VisualHub enables universal video conversion to and from a variety of formats, including iPod, PSP, DV camcorders, DVD, AVI, MP4, WMV, MPEG and Flash. TechSpansion claims its software can be used to fit up to 18 hours of video on one DVD, which can be played back on any standalone DVD player.

For more advanced users, it offers an extensive collection of controls over every aspect of encoding to be modified: automatically crop or change the size, the frame rate, the bitrate, or the decoding method, along with many other controls.

VisualHub costs $23.32. A trial version is available which limits conversions to two-minute clips.