Freemake Video Converter promises to be to Windows users what HandBrake is to Mac users. This free app is built using Microsoft's .Net Framework 4, a programming model that enables developers to provide software with interfaces that are easy to use and visually appealing. Certainly, both characteristics can be seen when it comes to Freemake, which offers a Mac-like window with rounded edges and large, explicit function buttons.
Downloading and installing Freemake Video Converter is a painless process, and the app takes up a moderate amount of space (30MB) on your hard drive. As noted, the main window is very straightforward. Lining the top are media buttons for video, audio, DVD, and photo, each with a plus symbol adjacent to indicate that's how one can add the various file types. New to this version is the Paste URL option, for easier online video conversion. Once files are added, another set of soft keys along the bottom of the window lets you easily select the format you want to convert to, including a new "to Android" button.
Freemake Video Converter can transcode a huge array of video file types, including AVI, MOV, M4V, MP4, and FLV, and it can convert from virtually any audio file type into MP3. It also throws in photo support as an added bonus (not necessary, in our opinion, but still nice). Plus, it now lets you upload photos and MP3s to YouTube in addition to the standard video capability.
In addition, the software can back up DVDs in a variety of video formats, and it includes some handy helpers for converting video directly into a file type that's compatible with a particular device such as an iPhone 4, a Sony PSP, or a Zune. In this version, you can also create your own presets for devices, and burn high-definition video to Blu-ray discs. Freemake also offers companion freeware--Video Downloader--that lets you download content directly from more than 40 sites (such as Veoh and YouTube) and convert them in the process.
In our tests, we focused mainly on the video aspect of Freemake, since that's its main purpose. The software converted a variety of file types flawlessly to MP4 for our iPod Touch. The process was fairly slow--three videos totaling 17 minutes took more than 20 minutes to convert. Ripping from DVD presented some problems; the program crashed during once and was generally painfully slow. But it did get the job done--for free--so we're willing to forgive some shortcomings. To improve performance and avoid impatience, we recommend doing your conversion jobs overnight.