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ProCoder encoding software has been a favourite of ours for some time,
despite its uncomfortably large price tag. Now, though, in version 2,
the program is not only bigger on features but also easier on the pocket
For the last couple
of years, Canopus's ProCoder has been the only genuine contender for
Cleaner's crown as an all-in-one batch-encoding tool. Oddly, Discreet
has seemed reluctant to put any real effort into Cleaner's marketing
or maintenance, leaving the way free for the throne to be seized.
But, Canopus hasn't helped itself by keeping ProCoder's price tag unrealistically
high - though, of course, its £600 ticket is the same as Cleaner's,
putting both far out of reach of mainstream DV enthusiasts. Also, while
early complaints about ProCoder's lack of multi-bit-rate encoding for
streaming media were quickly and effectively addressed, we've been sceptical
about the program's approach to batch processing, which forced all source
files to be assigned the same encoding template.
Now though, with the launch of V2, Canopus has slashed the price of
ProCoder by over £250, bringing it down to a much more reasonable
£350. It's still not cheap, but we're sure that the new price
will attract many more freelancers and enthusiasts than before. This
move follows Canopus's launch earlier in the year of ProCoder Express.
Even though Express sells for just £50, it provides many of the
same tools as ProCoder (including its excellent PAL/NTSC conversion
capabilities) though it does lack batch processing and effects filters.
Clearly, there's been a change of mindset within Canopus - one that
should allow it to grab a far bigger share in the prosumer sector and
create a whole new market at the budget end.
ProCoder 2's encoding speeds gave us no cause to grumble, though
it should be said that our tests were carried out on a far more powerful
system than we'd used with V1. We were also impressed with the encoding
quality, which showed noticeable improvement across the board. Added
to this, the ability to queue jobs is a huge step forward, making ProCoder
a far more versatile product.
Version 2 is undoubtedly one of the best media conversion tools available,
and the hefty price cut that accompanies it places the program well
ahead of Discreet's Cleaner. Even so, the absence of Dolby AC-3 encoding
is a serious shortcoming that needs to be addressed. The lower price
may not produce the dramatic upsurge in sales that we would normally
expect, since so much of the program's functionality is available for
just £50 with the wizard-based ProCoder Express. But Express lacks
batch processing features and Mastering Quality MPEG encoding, so we
regard ProCoder 2 as a must-have program for many professional freelancers
and DVD authors, even if home users and budget enthusiasts are content
to work with the lite version.
Read the full review
in September 2004's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in this issue:
Layer DVD+R9 burners and software
Primera Bravo II DVD
Apple DVD Studio Pro 3
Neuston Virtuoso MC-500
Canopus ProCoder 2
In September's news:
upgraded to V2.5
Faster, low-cost editing Macs
Matrox Premiere Pro 1.5 drivers
Sorenson squeezes further
Really cool Apple Power Mac
Boris professional FX
Digital arts from onedotzero
Cheaper, faster Mac portables
Formac FireWire hard disks
Edius goes high-end High Def
Steinberg V5 audio updates