[Editor’s note: The following review is part of Macworld’s GemFest 2009 series. Every day until the end of June 2009, the Macworld staff will use the Mac Gems blog to briefly cover a favorite free or low-cost program. Visit the Mac Gems homepage for a list of past Mac Gems.]
If you buy or rent movies from the iTunes Store, you’re already using iTunes as your preferred media organizer and player, especially if iTunes is acting as the gateway to an iPod, iPhone, or Apple TV. But iTunes isn’t the only source for digital video—perhaps, for instance, you want to make your DVD collection available on your Apple TV. Although several utilities are available to rip a DVD to a file on your hard disk, iTunes is picky about the settings required to play on the many devices it syncs with.
Aroona’s VideoDrive aims to make those conversions easy. Acting as a friendly middleman between your video files and iTunes, it encodes videos using QuickTime (and, optionally, El Gato’s Turbo.264 hardware device and software for faster performance), pulls metadata from IMDB.com over the Web, and hands the formatted files to iTunes. If you have Perian and Flip4Mac installed, VideoDrive can also convert nearly any video format for use with Apple devices.
If you have a lot of videos to process, you can drag them to a Hot Folder in the Finder that automatically adds them to VideoDrive’s import queue; from there, simply choose how you want the files added to iTunes. I didn’t run into any serious troubles using the software; the hiccups that did occur were due to other applications VideoDrive relies on (such as Turbo.264) getting hung up on a dialog box, or finding that a file I was converting already existed in the destination folder. VideoDrive does an admirable job of making video importing easy.
Want to stay up-to-date with the latest Gems? Sign up for the Mac Gems newsletter for a weekly e-mail summary of Gems reviews sent directly to your inbox. You can also follow MacGems on Twitter.
Our 186-page Mac Gems Superguide is a veritable greatest hits of Mac Gems. It’s available as a PDF download, PDF on CD-ROM, or as a printed book. Learn more about the Mac Gems Superguide.