With one part banana, one part cherry, on part mango, and a garnish of pineapple, HandBrake has been the favorite go-to video transcoder for many over the years. It is common practice for apps to launch first in beta to allow developers and testers to work out the kinks and provide feedback before the official release; and after 13 years of development this open-source multi-platform video transcoder has finally come out of beta.
Originally created for ripping DVDs, HandBrake is the go-to tool for those who want to convert audio or video files from one format to another. It’s been around forever and includes presets for everything from iPhone to Apple TV; with a price tag of zero to boot.
As expected, the major update brings along a host of new presets, file types, and support for more devices to the video transcoding tool. The most obvious change is in the pile of new presets, with one click you can now transcode for devices like Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV or Roku, or a general-purpose option like 1080p Surround.
It is not just about device presets. HandBreake can transcode between H.264, H.265, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VP9 and Theora. Audio codes include AAC, CoreAudio AAC/HE-AAC, MP3, FLAC, AC3 and Vorbis.
Version 1.0 includes Video improvements such as an Auto anamorphic mode (a smarter replacement for Strict anamorphic mode) and extended standards support, including VP9 video encoding via libvpx and Opus audio encoding/decoding via libopus. The latest update includes support for Intel QuickSync Video H.265/HEVC encoder, although you’ll need a compatible Skylake or later CPU.
As with any major update there is bug fixes, usability tweaks, and almost every third-party library gets an update. The Windows build now has the option to pause and resume encoding. If you stop encoding part way through, HandBrake will now finalizes the partial file to make it playable. The Mac app has a number of improvements, including automatically pausing the queue when available disk space is low.
However, one of the biggest changes that arrives with HandBrake 1.0, is the inclusion of reworked online documentation that is less technical. This allows the less technology inclined to figure out all the little features the transcoder offers.