Erica took a first look at Elgato's Turbo.264 USB video encoder last month and found it to be a mixed bag. While it is indeed a powerful accessory to many Mac user's video encoding efforts, it's only compatible with apps that use QuickTime for encoding and export, so HandBrake and VisualHub die-hards are out of luck. Still, if you use QuickTime itself, Elgato's products (such as EyeTV) or any other QuickTime-compatible video encoding apps, the Turbo.264 is a fantastic companion that is sure to make your G4, G5 or even Intel Mac jump for joy when encoding video.
While I personally don't own one yet, a new v1.1 software update from Elgato is motivating me all the more to save up and squeeze every penny out of the living room couch. One of the big-ticket new features is an iPhone-specific video setting, supporting both standard 4:3 (480 x 360) and 16:9 (480 x 270) formats. While that is definitely a cool feature, I'm more interested in another new feature (which, might I add, the rest of Elgato's video conversion software desperately needs): customizable settings for video conversion, including being able to edit the presets for devices like the Apple TV. Until now, the software included with the Turbo.264 simply offered choices like "high quality for iPod," with no ability to set things like data or compression rates. Now, finally, users have complete control over the quality of the video they output with the Turbo.264's software, and I can only hope that it's coming to their EyeTV 2 software as well.
As I said, I don't own a Turbo.264 yet, but I had the chance to test one out myself and this customization was the only major complaint I had. Now that they've fixed this issue, this $99 video encoding accessory seems more appetizing than ever.