Media file format conversion made super simple

A few posts back we looked at how CyberLink PowerDirector 9 not only makes editing home videos easy but lets you save them in lots of different formats so friends and family can watch them on Facebook and their smartphones, among other places.

Today we’ll take a quick side trip to check out another CyberLink product that every video buff should know about. MediaEspresso 6.5 is an inexpensive file format converter that makes it quick and easy to distribute media files. It saves videos, photos, and audio clips in the right formats for the devices your audience uses; it supports 90 different kinds of devices ranging from cell phones to portable gadgets to game consoles, plus popular online sites like Facebook and YouTube.

Like its more capable cousin PowerDirector, MediaEspresso is wicked fast when used on a PC equipped with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. Here’s why: a high-speed transcoding technology called Intel Quick Sync Video is built into the latest Intel Core processors. (Transcoding simply means converting the file from one format to another, which is what you have to do with the video you’ve shot before it will play on cell phones, Facebook, and other places.) MediaEspresso takes advantage of QSV, and that means conversions that once took hours finish in minutes.

That’s not all. MediaEspresso also takes full advantage of multiple CPU cores and Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, or HTT. HTT lets each core simultaneously perform different parts of a conversion — scaling, color space conversions, and such. That speeds up things tremendously, letting your PC convert a bunch of files at once.

To test MediaEspresso’s speed on a quad-core Core i7 PC, I conducted some informal tests. First, I downsized five ginormous digital photos (7 or 8 megabytes each) for my iPhone. My laptop converted four of the pictures simultaneously, each core tackling one photo, and made short work of the fifth as well. Total time: two-tenths of a second. Sweet!

It took MediaEspresso only two-tenths of a second to downsize five multi-megapixel JPEGs for distribution to iPhones.

Next, I converted a four-minute HD video for the iPhone. That took a mere 14 seconds.

MediaEspresso is as easy to use as it is quick. Converting files is basically a three-step process. First, you bring in your videos, photos, or audio files using Windows Explorer or by clicking on the Import Media icon. Second, you select a device type that matches what you want to view your content on — say, a smartphone, game console, or online. Third, start the conversion. All you need know is what kind of gadget you want to share your work on. MediaEspresso does the rest; you don’t have to know a thing about the target format. (For instance, I didn’t have to know that my AVI HD video needed to be converted to an MP4 file for my iPhone — I simply chose the iPhone option.)

MediaEspresso’s workspace displays imported media files and intuitive icons for the devices it can convert for.

Before I wrap up, I’d like to mention a couple of great extras in MediaEspresso. One is MediaEspresso Gadget. Got a device, say a Sony PlayStation Portable or a tablet, already connected to your computer? Just drag and drop files onto the Gadget icon and MediaEspresso automatically converts and copies the files to the connected device. Quick, convenient, and very nifty.

Drag and drop files onto the MediaEspresso Gadget icon to instantly convert and transfer files to a connected device, such as an iPhone, Zune, or PlayStation Portable.

MediaEspresso also includes three CyberLink TrueTheater technologies: Denoise, Lighting, and HD. These features remove noise and artifacts, improve lighting, and boost image clarity and sharpness, respectively. Using these enhancements slows down conversions, but they’re worth it. For instance, using Denoise and HD with my four-minute HD video increased conversion time from 14 seconds to two minutes. But that’s still mighty fast, and my video looked a lot better.

So what’s up next? We’re gonna take a sneak peek at PhotoDirector, a new image editing program from CyberLink useful for sprucing up photos before incorporating them into a PowerDirector project.

Subscribe to the Now Playing Newsletter