Sure, there are plenty of video converters out there - many of them are free to use - but there are times when I just need a converter that’s extremely easy to use, quick to convert and supports a wide variety of formats. Today I’m looking at Sothink Video Converter which hopefully will fulfil my requirements.
The guys over at Sothink were kind enough to provide me with a license for the paid version for their Video Converter, which allows more output formats and an ad-free interface without watermarks. Licenses are available for US$25.
Sothink Video Converter includes a fantastic and very easy to use interface. You load videos you want to convert via the buttons along the top, and on the left hand side is the information regarding the codec you will be converting to. For basic users, the drop down Encoding Profile menu will be sufficient; advanced users can tinker with the settings in the Advanced tab.
The majority of the window is occupied by the list of files that you are planning on converting, as well as basic information about these files. With this information easily displayed and more available via a simple mouse-over, you can very easily make decisions on your encoding profiles via the settings on the left hand side.
There is also a small preview window to view your files in, just in case you have forgotten exactly what you are converting. It’s also great to see that Sothink Video Converter does not hide away important information or buttons via context menus, instead opting to include all relevant information in the one, uncrowded window.
Honestly, there is nothing I can really find that I dislike about the interface here. I’m not too sure that I would ever need to use the preview window, but I’m sure some people would use it. Also, there are two other visual styles to choose from if you really dislike the silver default one, but to me the default one is fine.
Now, here is the important stuff: how the software goes at actually converting files. First off, it has to be mentioned just how many formats this converter will take. It supports all the popular filetypes (AVI, MP4, MKV, MOV, WMV, etc.) and even others such as FLV and GIF files (not that I would recommend converting a 1080p movie to a GIF file).
The video converter also comes with loads of pre-set profiles for different devices. If, for example, you wanted to convert your MKV movies to watch on your PS3 or Xbox 360, you can choose any of the formats under those headings and it will work on your respective devices. Also, if you have an iPhone, you can choose the profiles for that; there are Android and Windows Mobile (not WP7) profiles but these essentially convert to MP4 with an appropriate screen resolution.
It would have been nice to see support for other Android screen resolutions such as 480 x 854, qHD or even tablet resolutions under a dedicated heading like the several Apple-related headings, but this must have been overlooked. It’s sometimes disappointing to see the lack of codec support on Android devices, so using a converter is necessary sometimes, and due to the popularity of the platform it should have been included with greater support in this Video Converter.
Simply put, the actual converting function works, and it works very well. There were no issues in any of the conversions I made, and I tested out most of the formats it supports, save for a couple. Downscaling from 1080p to 720p was very good with minimal compression artefacts, but some tinkering with the settings was necessary to get the quality just right.
While converting between files to use on your computer is not particularly useful as you can simply install the necessary codecs, converting for mobile devices is often necessary. This way you can get the exact screen resolution necessary and you can pretty much ensure that it works, assuming you know the codecs for your device. When it comes to my Samsung Galaxy S, converting to 800 x 480 MP4s worked splendidly and enabled seasons of AVI TV shows to be watched.
What’s even better is that conversion is fast. While only using around 35% of my quad-core CPU, Sothink Video Converter still managed to convert a standard 22 minute TV show from AVI to MP4 in 3m 30s. I couldn’t make the converter use more of my CPU but I was still impressed at how quickly it was able to convert the file to give pretty much exactly the same quality.
Any conversions with HD files used around 80% of my CPU (despite having set the program to use all 4 cores all the time), and conversions of 1080p files generally took half the length of the file in question, which is still pretty good. When converting more than one file at once, it used around 90-95% of my CPU; strangely, it never hit 100%. Obviously, these results will differ depending on your computer’s specifications, but still expect speedy conversions.
One odd annoyance that I noticed is that converter often fails to properly convert 6-channel DTS/AC3 audio to other formats, pushing the center channel to the right speaker. This means that any time you want to format switch a file with surround sound you either have to convert it to 2-channel (needed for most mobile devices so not really a problem) or just deal with the issue.
Also, converting to images is an interesting feature to have, but it’s not particularly useful. Basically, it takes an image of a frame for every second in the entire film in whatever format you choose. You can convert to an animated GIF, which is probably the most useful of the image formats and it definitely does work, but I don’t really recommend using the other formats on a two-hour-long movie.
When it comes down to it, $25 for this speedy converter is a pretty good deal. Not only do you get the fast conversions, but you also get fully working videos at the end, and apart from the DTS audio issue you can expect great quality as well. Sothink Video Converter also offers a wide range of codecs and conversions that should suit most people along with the easy to use interface.
Sothink Video Converter is available now via the Sothink website, and there is a free version available with some limitations (such as watermarked videos and fewer supported codecs).
I mentioned I might have some Pro license keys to giveaway, and it turns out that I do thanks to the guys at Sothink Media. I will be giving away ten license keys to anyone in the world who is interested in trying out this software without ads and watermarks.
To enter to win, simply comment below and retweet this review with Sothink's Twitter account (@Video_Converter) in the message; people who commented before the start of this giveaway have been added to the draw already. Each person can enter the giveaway once, and will go into a randomly selected draw to win one of ten (10) Sothink Video Converter Pro license keys valued at US$25.
We'll do the giveaway drawing on September 30, so make sure to get in before then. Simple as that, and good luck to everyone.
I have drawn the winners, and the people below will be PMed to notify them of their winnings.
- Brian Miller
- nik louch
- George Magdy Philip
Thanks to everyone who entered.