Comparing the original HD Xvid .AVI file with the H.264 transcode, the Turbo.264 HD yields a softer picture on a frame-by-frame basis, but one no less watchable for that. Knowledgeable users can undoubtedly tweak the pre-sets if they want to increase the sharpness a bit.
The source HD video (top) and the Turbo.264 HD's transcode (bottom)
Click each image for a full-size picture
All this comes at a price, through. The original Turbo.264 retailed for around £60. The new one's more than double that - £140 - partly due to the changing fate of Sterling but also because Elgato's upped the price.
There's another, less obvious price too: CPU performance. Previously, the Turbo.264 software delegated its entire workload to the dongle. The new version uses the host CPU much more aggressively to prepare video data for processing, which is one of the reasons why it deliver faster transcoding. The result is that it grabs a surprisingly high number of processor cycles. The benefit here is that the faster your CPU, the better transcoding speeds you'll get, but it also means it's much less of a run-in-the-background-and-forget-about-it product than before.
Set your Mac aside to let it churn through video, and that's not a problem. But it might be if you want your machine to do other tasks too. Whether that's good or bad depends entirely on you and your workload. Personally, we're happy to get the fastest possible H.264 encoding available on a Mac today.
If you already have a Turbo.264 and you're not an AVCHD camcorder owner, the Turbo.264 HD is more 'nice to have' than 'must have'. If you use it casually, you probably won't want to cough up for the upgrade. For the serious video shooter, or if you about to embark on ripping your entire DVD collection to stick in your Mac Mini media centre, the time you'll save using the new Turbo.264 will be well worth the outlay. ®
More Mac Add-on Reviews...
Elgato EyeTV DTT Deluxe
Elgato EyeTV 310
Elgato Turbo.264 HD
Christ on a bike
Even with the naff visual quality it's obvious with an A/B comparison that this device sacrifices PQ for the sake of raw speed.
Urgh. x264 + custom matrices does the job very nicely, and keeps all the visual quality. There's a reason all the HD rlsgroups don't use these dongles (instead asking for cappers with quadcore machines!)
Paris, because she goes like the clappers with a dongle in her
What exactly does this do that ffmpeg doesn't do?
"Tweak the encoding settings to your heart's content"
...with some 10 parameters?
Surely is an apple type definition of tweaking. Do "x264 --longhelp" sometime
I don't think that stick is a bad idea, but like others i'm somewhat not certain what the market is. It's certainly not a professional and on the consumer front it must be people who want to cling to old machines, not want to wait for an encode to complete and not care too much about quality (or is it quality-size-ratio).