It's a fundamental law of computing: multimedia files are never in the format you need. And so while in theory something like an iPhone is great for watching videos on the move, in practice they'll need to be in something like M4V, MP4 or MOV formats, and getting your files converted can be a problem. But that's where HandBrake comes in.

The program accepts video data in just about any source format, including DVDs (as long as they're unencrypted: commercial DVDs can't be imported unless you install extra libraries).

You can then choose your output format (MP4 or MKV), and apply whatever additional tweaks you might need. Videos can be resized or cropped, for instance, filtered in various ways (deinterlace, denoise, deblock, more), you're able to choose the destination frame rate, or even set a target size for the converted file so you can be sure it'll fit on your target device.

If you prefer a simple life, though, you can just choose one of the conversion presets like iPad, iPad or AppleTV. HandBrake will automatically set all its other options, and all you have to do is click Start and wait for your new video or audio file to arrive.

It's worth adding that HandBrake is 64-bit-only.

Version 1.1.1 changes include (see full changelog for more)

- Fixed a potential crash in the comb detection filter
- Fixed a potential crash in the padding filter
- Fixed decoding certain very high bit rate ultra-high definition sources with extra large packets
- Fixed last frame in source video missing in output
- Fixed crash when decoding an empty audio track
- Updated mac-toolchain-build script Nasm url and improved curl parameters for robustness

Verdict

HandBrake is an effective and highly configurable video converter. The interface can be intimidating, though, and you'll need some transcoding experience to get the best out of the program.