When first we met the Turbo.264 hardware compression accelerator, it did a great job of speeding up video exports on older CPUs but didn't offer a tremendous boost on modern Intel hardware. True, it worked well with Elgato's EyeTV software to transcode TV recordings overnight for iPod or iPhone use, but not everyone needed to spend the money to recover that time.
Elgato's got an upgrade to the Turbo hardware now, the Turbo.264 HD. On the one hand, the new unit is limited to Intel Mac owners running Leopard -- leaving out the G4 and G5 users who benefited most from the speed boost of the older unit.
On the other hand, the widget has the ability to export in HD resolutions; you can do basic trim edits on clips and handle almost any input format under the sun. More importantly, the new stick brings a vital feature to HD camcorder users: on-the-fly transcoding of AVCHD video.
Mac users who have AVCHD camcorders have suffered long and loudly with the format, even though native editors like NeoScene and batch converters like VoltaicHD have simplified things a bit. While iMovie '09 and Final Cut/FCE can handle AVCHD, importing is a slow slog. The Turbo.264 HD promises to dramatically reduce importation time for AVCHD clips and offload the work of transcoding them from the computer's processor. If it works as advertised, it's going to be very popular with HD camcorder users.
The new unit is $150US and shipping now.