Windows only: BitTorrent super-host The Pirate Bay claims its ViO MobileConverter tool reduces nearly any video's size by 20 percent and converts it for mobile devices faster than anything else. Let's see about that.
Why the speed and quality test? Simply because ViO, with all the nuance of the typical Pirate Bay communication, claims this on its home page:
Converts virtually any web video format file into a file that's 100% compatible with your portable media device, compressing it up to 20% of its original size without any reduction in image quality. ViO converts your media faster than any tool on the market today.
I decided to try out ViO on converting a DiVx-formatted episode of Mad Men ("The Benefactor" from season two, in case you're a fan) for my iPod touch. I'd previously been using the free version of Freez iPod Converter, which, while somewhat wonky and rough, got the job done faster and at acceptable quality faster than anything else I'd tried. I used Robin Keir's timer to clock the conversion speed.
So! Here's the results of plugging in a 350MB, 45-minute AVI file into Freez and letting fly with the default settings (which converts to MP4):
Freez iPod Converter
Conversion time: 7 minutes, 10 seconds
Finished size: 251 MB
Quality: Good, easily watch-able, only the same quirks as were present in the original.
I then ran ViO through the same process, plugging in the AVI file and asking it to convert to an MP4 for the iPhone (same video screen as iPod touch):
Conversion time: 7 minutes, 7 seconds
Finished size: 54.7 MB
Quality: Lots of pixel "ghosting" (blocky pieces left behind when scene jumps), general muddiness to multi-colour scenes. Like a YouTube video that nobody selected "High Quality" or "HD" for.
I then realised that ViO's "Advanced Options," tucked away by default, let you change pretty much anything and everything about the finished product, including a target file size.
So I set ViO to re-encode that video to a 251MB MP4 file, and it instantly upped the video bitrate and other features. Here's the results of that second pass:
ViO (Take Two)
Conversion time: 7 minutes 10 seconds
Finished size: 181MB
Quality: Noticeably better than the first run, with no detectable ghosting. A small bit of jerky-ness when characters are moving quickly or scenes jump-cut (especially in well-lit situations), but watch-able.
So there you have it. ViO did—despite my wishes, even—make a smaller video file than Freez in the same amount of time, reducing its final size by about 30 percent with only a small amount of detectable difference. Given its more polished, somewhat easier-to-grasp interface and the huge range of devices it can convert for—HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Apple, and many more devices are covered—it's definitely worth checking out.
ViO Video MobileConverter is a free download for Windows systems only. Make sure to watch for the toolbar option if you don't want a browser add-on; it's checked for installation by default.