Around 18 months have passed since the last version of Squeeze, and in the meantime Discreet’s Cleaner 6 has ruled unchallenged as king of the QuickTime-encoding-software landscape. Squeeze 4, however, is the most serious contender to the throne.
In version 4, the Squeeze interface has enjoyed a major overhaul. The new darkened panels a distinct nod to high-end applications like Discreet Smoke, with current selections and settings clearly visible in yellow. It’s also possible to detach the preview window in case a batch tree (where the list of all files and presets etc reside) requires more space.
Despite the new interface, the basic workflow of Squeeze remains the same; import or capture media, choose filters, choose output format, click ‘squeeze’, and hey presto – instant high-quality compressed video. Even first-time users are unlikely to have trouble navigating the program and the contextual help menus for each button help enormously.The encoding options on offer are extensive; the only notable absence being Windows Media. The big news is the ability to encode in high-definition codecs as well as H.264 AVC (the new Advanced Video Codec that QuickTime 7 will allegedly make use of).
The watch folders feature also returns in version 4. This enables any accessible folder to be assigned as a watch folder. As source footage is exported to that folder (from Final Cut, for example), Squeeze automatically encodes it based upon the applied settings (format, filters etc). Unlike version 3, it’s also possible to work on other encodes in the queue while others encode – a vast improvement.
Sadly, it isn’t all good news. Many of the output formats can be viewed only if the relevant third-party player is installed. Flash Video (.flv extension) and the new MPEG-4 AVC formats both need a separate player or program installed before the files can be viewed. What’s more, when initially trying to play files produced as Flash Movie files (.swf extension) Adobe Illustrator started up. This final problem is easily corrected by re-associating swf, files but the experience nonetheless highlights the need for some sort of built-in ‘results viewer’ for the program; there seems little point in compression programs providing the means to encode formats but no facility to easily view the resulting files.
Editor's Note: We have noticed many Macworld UK readers heading here in relation to MacHeist's free offer of a copy of LateNiteSoft's Squeeze. This review refers to a different application. Click here for more information on the LateNiteSoft Squeeze give-away.
The latest Squeeze offers some distinct improvements, arguably making it the best encoding package available for OS X at present. However, in some ways we feel this is by default rather than true merit, due to poor competition. With Squeeze 4, a great interface, smooth workflow, cutting-edge codecs and quality results are marred only by the lack of a printed manual and no built-in output viewer.