Roxio Popcorn 3 Review

Popcorn 2, it’s a simple and affordable DVD and video authoring tool that can burn video to blank DVDs or encode it for viewing on an iPod.

Roxio makes a big deal out the DVD copying possibilities, but this is the least useful application because copyright restrictions mean that you can’t rip shop-bought DVDs to your iPod. Copying is limited to videos without copyright, which usually means ones that are home-made.

Popcorn is far more useful when you approach it from a different angle, and use it as a quick authoring tool for your own video productions. It’s the perfect fast solution if you have a mobile phone or camcorder video clip and you want to burn it to a DVD, or upload it to one of the supported devices. The list of input formats is comprehensive and includes all QuickTime, MPEG-1, 2 and 4, AVI and DivX. Output isn’t limited to the iPod – supported output formats include MPEG-4, H.264 and DivX, which means in practice that you can create video for Apple TV, the iPhone, Blackberry, Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

Conversion is a simple drag and drop process, but it’s processor-intensive and longer files can take a while to cook – although in this version you can start and stop the transcoding process if you want to do something else with your Mac. You can also set up a batch conversion to run overnight, and speed up conversions using an optional Elgato USB Turbo.264 encoder.

Some of the other useful new extras include a label and insert design tool, the ability to insert bookmarks and chapters into video projects, and a fast preview that makes sure you’re happy with the compression settings. The compression is fierce and while it’s unrealistic to expect HD quality from iPod video, the DVD quality is some steps short of the best – especially in the four hour mode which squeezes four hours of video onto a 4.7GB DVD. Finally, EyeTV and TiVo recordings can also be used as source video.

OUR VERDICT

Popcorn is good value if you want a quick and simple DVD authoring tool or a speedy way to compress your videos for iPod viewing. Ignore the DVD copying – it’s best used for your own video creations.

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