Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the meteoric rise of digital video is the massive range of format types, resolutions and codecs available, which in most cases are tied specifically to platforms and portable devices.
MediaShow Espresso is the latest application to promise hassle-free conversion and tips its hat towards a range of popular portables by offering presets for Apple’s iPod range, Sony’s PSP/PS3 and the Xbox 360. For each of these you’ll find the necessary file type hardwired but usually have an option to adjust resolution and aspect ratio and where relevant select a preferred audio format.
You’ll also find presets here for YouTube videos and luckily there is still a custom "other formats" conversion that offers a choice of MPEG2, MPEG4 and WMV, selectable resolutions and bitrates and the ability to create profiles to save common settings for easy access later.
None of this is particularly new so far, but the way in which MediaShow Espresso goes about the task at hand elevates it above the majority of rivals in this market.
For a start, the software is far more polished than we expected, utilising an adjustable thumbnail display to show imported video clips along with the ability to preview or play them using the integrated media player. Multiple clips can be selected for batch-conversion, though it’s not possible to select multiple formats on a single job, and current file information can be viewed through file properties.
Conversion quality is as you’d expect and speeds are also very good, particularly if you’re able to benefit from its support for Intel Core i7, Nvidia CUDA and ATI Stream CPU/GPU technology, in which case it claims up to 10x faster performance.
A few handy little extras designed to make your life easier offer added appeal, such as the ability to export Apple conversions directly to the iTunes library, and upload video directly to a YouTube account.
MediaShow also claims "green" credentials by giving the option to switch off a computer after a job is finished and generally we were impressed by the attractive yet no-nonsense approach Espresso takes to media conversion and transfer.
Aside from a few relatively minor issues, such as the rather restrictive list of export formats, rather unflexible batch-conversion and the fact that it’s a little more expensive than rival packages, there’s a lot to like about MediaShow Espresso. If hassle-free conversion to handheld players and YouTube is your main aim, it should do the job nicely.