The latest version (v2011.48) of eRightSoft’s Simplified Universal Player Encoder (SUPER) builds on its well-earned reputation as one of the best Freeware media conversion programs around.
Why would you want to use this software? It's free and can convert just about any media and multimedia file format without problems.
If you're a business user and are having problems running media files on standard media players, it's easy to convert to a format that will run normally on popular media players.
Try running a Flash video file on Windows Media Player and it won't play properly unless the correct codec is installed.
SUPER can also convert and optimise media to run on mobile phones and other device form factors.
While eRightSoft takes no credit for the functionality in the package, saying “the credit should go to these authors for their great ongoing projects”, it does deserve credit for putting together an interface that brings together some of the top codecs available anywhere.
SUPER supports just about any media and multimedia file format, has an onboard media player and can also pipe streaming media off the web, with standard https://, multimedia messaging streams (mms://) and real-time streaming protocol (rtsp://) supported.
eRightSoft has kept SUPER as a Windows-only package and does not intend to port the software to other operating systems such as Linux since, it says: “There are already many powerful Linux GUIs [graphical user interfaces] for those encoders.”
We downloaded the latest version – 2011 build 48 – launched on 23 April, and installed it in under two minutes. It's an improvement on build 47, which took about three times longer to install.
eRightSoft has started to offer users other free programs, such as Real Player, AVG antivirus and other packages, to install before the final SUPER install phase, but you can opt out of these installs.
We installed SUPER on our Labs Dell Optiplex 980, which has an Intel Core i5 quad processor clocked at 3.33GHz, with 4GB of 1333MHz DDR3 memory and using a Western Digital Scorpio internal SATA300 hard disk. The Optiplex 980 was running the 64-bit edition of Windows 7 Ultimate.
We also installed on our Labs Core 2 Duo laptop (Intel T9500 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of 666MHz DDR2 memory and a 320GB SATA drive). This system ran the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.
Some antivirus (AV) packages have been known to flag SUPER as a security problem due to the way in which it encrypts code. eRightSoft says that since AV software can’t parse the files SUPER uses, it flags them as suspicious. Users need to flag SUPER to their AV package as not a security risk.
SUPER build 48 doesn't add that many new features, but it does fix some bugs from the build released in March (20011.v47) and makes the install a lot faster.
At first glance, SUPER’s GUI looks slightly idiosyncratic. There are no drop-down menus letting you browse to the file you're trying to convert, for example. However, we found that as you use it, the GUI starts to make a lot of sense [see picture].
The first thing to do is set the options for the output video file format, which will then automatically set the options for which audio and video output codecs are available.
A right-click just about anywhere on the GUI brings up a main menu. eRightSoft has also put a dedicated button – M – at the top of the GUI to bring up the main menu [see picture].
Using this drop-down menu, users can add multimedia files and even playlists in .asx, .m3u (originally Winamp format), .pls, or .wmx (Windows Media) formats, and have the whole playlist converted in the format they specify.
All that’s required is to drag and drop media files or playlist files onto SUPER’s interface, where it says, “Drag a valid multimedia file here”.
There are many options and controls that users can set using SUPER to get just the right conversion; ie, what video scale size to use, how many frames per second (FPS) to display the media at, and what output video codec bitrate to choose.
Once these have been optimised for a specific media conversion, users can export those settings as a settings profile, which can be imported later for specific media conversions.
Media conversion tests
Users can opt to tear the audio out of a video by just selecting "disable video". So any newscast or podcast can be transferred onto a portable media player.
We tested SUPER's media conversion capabilities using a variety of media, and while not exhaustive we tried to convert most popular media formats.
As an example, we downloaded a copy of Elephants Dream, claimed to be "the world’s first open movie, made entirely with open source graphics software such as Blender" [see picture].
Using the 445MB native .AVI format, we used SUPER to convert the media file into Google's relatively new WebM format, which is open source and claimed to be royalty-free.
All you need to do is drag-and-drop the file onto the SUPER interface. With the WebM video format, SUPER automatically assigns VP8 as the output video codec and vorbis as the audio codec. Clicking the encode button starts off the conversion process, and when finished SUPER drops the newly converted file into the same folder as the old format file.
With our Labs Dell Optiplex 980 system, the conversion took about eight minutes and reduced the file size of Elephants Dream by about a quarter [445MB to 127MB]. And although the quality was not as good as the original, the disk space saved could prove vital for users who have limited storage space on small mobile devices.
The only problem we had when testing SUPER was trying to convert an advanced video codec high-definition (AVCHD) file to a Flash video format.
SUPER gave us the option of four output video codecs, but we couldn't get any to process the file properly. SUPER does put up a standard error message when it fails to convert media, but leaves it to the end-user to sort out the problem [see picture].
There are no help files readable from SUPER, although pop-up tool tips appear if you hover over specific option choices. There's also a comprehensive FAQ, which users should access first if they have problems with SUPER before submitting a problem report to the SUPER team via the forum.
Double-clicking on the file selected for encoding also brings up an analysis by SUPER of the video and audio parameters the media file contains, which could aid in diagnosing any media conversion problems.
SUPER is a very good, free, media conversion program, with a wide variety of conversion options, and is updated, normally every month, to add new features, encode new media formats and fix bugs.
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