Freemake Video Converter
A stable, flexible and powerful video converter
Pros & Cons:
The interface of Freemake Video Converter is about as polished as it gets, and the code behind the interface is stable, flexible, and powerful. Using Freemake is a linear, seamless experience with no frustration.
What I do find frustrating, however, is that the developer has now added OpenCandy to their installer. For more information about this bundled software, I recommend you read this article. Please see the last section of this review for information on how you can opt out of this.
Now, back to the awesome stuff. With Freemake, you can convert most any format of video or audio with this handy piece of freeware, along with DVD's, photos, and even web embedded media from sites like YouTube, Google, and Vimeo. There are lots of presets and quite a few options, giving the software best-in-class capabilities. The visual cues are easy to follow, pretty much guiding you from start to finish on any conversion task and providing a more user-friendly experience than most other software.
This software can make use of DXVA and CUDA (two methods of hardware accelerated encoding) to boost speeds. I was only able to use DXVA on my test computer, so you may get faster encodes with your machine. On my laptop, I had an NVidia card, and Freemake actually displayed a message recommending that I update my video card drivers to make use of CUDA acceleration. Freemake took 39 minutes to produce its output using an Auto Bitrate setting, with a two-pass encode. It took under 15 minutes to do a one-pass encode. Handbrake took 33 minutes using a Constant Quality RF:20 setting. The quality of all three test encodes was excellent, with no apparent difference from the original. You won't find advanced encoding settings anywhere in this interface, so if you're looking to fine-tune your output, I recommend moving on to something like Handbrake, Format Factory, or FFCoder.
I would have loved to give this software 10/10 stars, however there was one negative aspect to Freemake Video Converter: the bundled Freemake Toolbar and OpenCandy software. The toolbar is set to install by default unless you choose otherwise on the first page of the install wizard. To their credit, the Privacy Policies and/or EULA's are easily available for all bundled software. OpenCandy, on the other hand, does not have a checkbox to toggle its install.
How to install without OpenCandy
You'll have to roll up your sleeves and install from the command-line if you want to opt out of OpenCandy bundled with this software. Here's how: Hit Start, then 'Run' the install file with the /nocandy switch. It will still show you the EULA for it, however there will be an option at the very end of the install to 'not install' the software OpenCandy recommends for you. Even without the /nocandy switch, you can still uncheck the box, but for some reason the switch will trade in the check-box for 2 separate radio button choices (Yes or No). It's a lot to worry about and go through, but this software really is top-notch in most other ways.
Although their website defaults to an "online installer", they do host offline installers, available here.
Freemake Video Converter was reviewed by Gizmos Freeware on