As digital video expands into more aspects of our lives, the importance of video converters grows. With new, innovative formats, playback devices and our demand for mobile convenience, comes the need for an increased sophistication in video file converters.
Like many products, the Any Video Converter (AVC) is available in tiers of capabilities and pricing. There are three versions: Free, Any Video Professional for $29.95 and Any Video Ultimate costing $59.95.
This comparison will be between the free Any Video Converter and the free RealPlayer.
STARTING TO WORK WITH THE FREE ANY VIDEO CONVERTER
The free Any Video Converter has simple step-by-step directions on the start-up window.
The start-up window directs you to click on the icon buttons for the three basic steps in the process.
- Add Video Files
- Choose an Output Profile
- Convert Now!
Couldn’t be easier.
Before working with files, I clicked on the Add URLs icon to test downloading from specific websites through the Firefox browser, but I could not get this to operate properly all the time.
Several attempts to download the “Moneyball” and “Red Tails” movie trailers from Metacafe.com resulted with “Download video failed.” in the Status column. Another error message, “Video download failed: Cannot find URL of video file, maybe need login.” was shown at the bottom of the main window. My Windows 7 Professional system is using Firefox 10.0, the most current version.
I was able to use this Add URLs feature successfully on YouTube, so maybe there is a glitch with Metacafe.com and Firefox.
PICKING THE VIDEO FORMAT OR DEVICE TO CONVERT TO
Any Video Converter supports several of the common video and audio output formats, including HTML5 and both NTSC and PAL for DVD. The Output Profile button has the usual icons for device categories, but is a very limited list compared to RealPlayer.
In particular, in the mobile phones category, there is only a single, just one, profile available. It’s a generic MPEG-4. No long list of various brands and models of smart phones, let alone tablets, portable media players, set top devices, etc. Just a “Mobile Phone MPEG-4 Movie (*.mp4).”
It was a surprise to see this limitation with Any Video Converter.
There are provisions in the Video and Audio Options menus to switch from the MPEG-4 codec to XVID, to change the bit rate and frame rate, and to select either one or two passes for encoding when available for the output format.
The input video we are using is the 1080p HD trailer encoded in MP4/H.264 for the animation, “Sintel.” “Sintel” is available from the Blender Foundation, and released under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Adding video files and selecting output profiles is simple and direct.
EXECUTING THE CONVERSION TO ANOTHER FORMAT
After adding the “Sintel” video file, choosing the single mobile phone profile available, and setting other options, click on the large Convert Now icon, or chose Start Converting under the Convert menu to begin the process.
AVC does not display playback of the clip being converted, but does use a status bar that graphically displays the relative amount of content which has been converted. There’s also a numeric percentage shown in the status bar. During the process, you’re advised that it is ripping video and audio, and then when the conversion is completed.
The conversion was quick, taking about two thirds real time of the clip. The now converted file is stored in the My Video/Any/MOBILE_MP4 folder, which is automatically created. This makes accessing files for specific devices easy.
SPECIAL FEATURES OFFERED IN THE FREE ANY VIDEO CONVERTER
There are few special features available. AVC has a nice Clipping Video tool. It allows creating numerous trimmed segments, and then automatically adding them to the list of files to be converted.
It can also take Snapshots of video being played back in the preview window. Curiously, this doesn’t operate if the video is paused, so you’ve got to grab them on the fly. AVC creates a unique folder for snapshots.
Other customizable settings for audio, video, subtitles, online video and more are available under Options in the Edit menu, or by clicking the Options button.
INTRODUCTION TO THE REALPLAYER VIDEO FORMAT CONVERTER
The free RealPlayer has its own video format converter. Just as dedicated converters have become more sophisticated, general-purpose media players must offer competitive features to keep pace with consumer demand.
RealPlayer provides several routes to first get your media into the converter, and select the conversion settings that meet your needs. Opening the converter directly lets you select the device you want to convert to. The details button opens another dialog window so you can further refine video and audio format, quality, resolution and bit rate. Next, either browse for the file through Add… or drag the file into the converter from its location, or from the Library.
USING THE REALPLAYER LIBRARY TO ADD VIDEO CLIPS
As an interface, the library’s ability to display thumbnail clips of the videos is a convenient and efficient tool for helping convert formats. You can drag & drop clips directly to the open video converter, or use several menu paths.
You can also select a clip, and then click on “Convert to…” under the main Library menu on the left.
CONVERTING YOUR VIDEO CLIPS TO A MOBILE DEVICE
This is really the easy part, because now all you have to do is click on the Start button. When the conversion begins, the video will be processed into the Google Nexus One format that was selected through details when the video converter was first opened.
When the conversion is complete, the finished file is place in the folder you designated, along with being placed in the RealPlayer Library for viewing.
OTHER CAPABILITIES BUILT INTO THE FREE REALPLAYER
Aside from the RealPlayer Converter, we haven’t talked much about what the free RealPlayer itself can do. Because it is an all-around media player, able to handle nearly every digital video and audio format, RealPlayer can perform a number of other tasks that are increasingly important.
- Download videos playing on websites in a single click
- Trim the head and tail of video clips to make custom segments
- Upload videos to social websites like, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
- Easily email video clips
- Organize the Library and create Playlists
COMPARISON CHART FOR THE ANY VIDEO CONVERTER vs. REALPLAYER CONVERTER
|Compare||ANY Video Converter||RealPlayer|
|Input File Formats|
|Input File Types||3G2, 3GP, AMV, AVI, AVS, DAT, DIVX, DV, FLV, M1V, M2TS, M2V, M4V, MKV, MOV, MP4, MPE, MPG, MPV, OGM, QT, RM, RMVB, VOB, WMV, WebM||AAC, M4A, PLS, EPL, AVI, CDA, IVR, MP3, MPA, MPG, MPEG, MPV, MPS, M2V, M1V, MPE, RA RV, SMIL, WAV, SSM, MP4, M4E, M4V, WMA, WMV, WAX, ASX, ASF, WM, WMX, MICROSOFT MEDIA SERVER PROTOCOL, MOV, QT, AU, AIF, AIFF, ACP, 3GP, 3G2, DIVX, DVD (RP+), AMR, AWB, QCP, EVRC, EVR, FLV, VOB (RP+), REALAUDIO LOSSLESS, MP2 (RP+), MP1, MPGA, MID, MIDI, RMI|
|Output File Formats|
|Output File Types||MP4, MPG, WMV, FLV, SWF, 3GP, 3G2, AVI, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MKV, M2TS, ASF, WebM, HTML5 Embedded Video, MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, WAV, M4A||RA, RM, RV, WMV, MP4, AAC, H.264, H.263, RealPlayer Plus H.264, 3GP, CELL PHONE, M4A, MP3, RealAudio Lossless, WAV, WMA|
|Conversion to Output Devices|
|Mobile and Set top Devices||Mobile Phone MPEG-4 Movie (*mp4)||Android, Apple, Archos, Barns and Noble Nook, BlackBerry, Creative Zen, Google, HTC, iRiver, KIN, LG, Microsoft Zune, Motorola, Nokia, Palm, PS3, PSP, Samsung, SanDisk Sansa, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, T-Mobile, ViewSonic, Xbox, 3GP|
|File Format Processing Support|
|Pre-set Format Profiles||Yes||Yes|
|720p and 1080p HD Support||Yes||Yes|
|GPU Acceleration||Yes, NVidia CUDA||Yes, with RealPlayer Plus*|
|Fixed and Variable Bit Rate Encoding||Yes – Audio Only||Yes – Audio Only|
|Calculator to Estimate Output Size and Time||Yes||Yes|
|Video Quality – Sync, No Skipped Frames||Excellent||Excellent|
|Conversion Speed||Very Good||Good|
|Trim Head and Tail of Clips||Yes||Yes|
|Crop Video Size||No||No|
|Makes Screen Grabs||Yes||Yes|
|Merge or Join Files||No||No|
|Adjust Brightness, Contrast, Color, etc.||No||No|
|Video and Audio Special Effects||No||No|
|DVD Burning||Yes||Yes, with RealPlayer Plus*|
|Hi-Definition Burning||No||Yes, with RealPlayer Plus*|
|Easy Upload to Social Media Sites||No||Yes|
REMARKS ON FREE ANY VIDEO CONVERTER vs. FREE REALPLAYER
Although AVC is a dedicated converter and RealPlayer is first a media player, both did their job converting video file formats. On shear speed, AVC is the quicker of the two.
The products use a different interface design, but each is effective and simple to run in its own way. I do like the integration of RealPlayer’s Library and Converter, and the graphical approach of being able to see thumbnails, along with drag & drop. AVC has a more conventional, menu driven approach.
Both will handle a variety of input and outputs formats, but the edge goes to RealPlayer on the input side. AVC’s HTML5 embedded video output capability is notable, as this feature will rapidly become a necessity for many.
For mobile and set top output devices, there is a glaring difference in favor of RealPlayer. Any Video Converter has only one mobile phone and nothing for other mobile devices or set top players. RealPlayer offers extensive options for this feature, which is greatly desired by consumers.
*RealPlayer Plus is an upgrade available for $49.99 that adds DVD and High Definition burning, along with accelerated downloads and transfers to devices.