It's on our list of the most essential free downloads, now there's a major new update of video conversion program Handbrake.
The Handbrake Project has released a major update of its open-source, cross-platform video conversion tool. is the first update since November 2009 and introduces a number of major improvements that help speed up the conversion process, such as support for batch video scanning and queue editing. It also now recognises Blu-ray discs, although it can’t yet decrypt them.
Handbrake is designed to convert just about any video (including ripping unencrypted discs from DVD and Blu-ray) into the MP4 or MKV format. It’s possible to resize, crop and filter the video as it’s converted, making it a good choice for those who wish to convert their video to a format suitable for viewing on a portable device such as the iPod.
The biggest standout feature in version 0.9.5 is the addition of support for Blu-ray. Just point the program to the Blu-ray disc or folder, and it’ll now recognise the file structure, allowing you to rip and encode from Blu-ray. There’s still no support for encrypted DVDs or Blu-rays however – you’ll need to pay for third-party software if you wish to convert protected content.
Other improvements include the addition of batch scanning and queue editing, which simplifies and speeds up the task of converting multiple video files. Windows users can now also drag and drop files into the program, another feature designed to save time.
There are also a number of new and updated presets to support newer devices and improve quality, along with updated libraries and SSA subtitle support. Other OS-specific changes include support for multiple instances of the program (Mac OS X and Linux) and visual status of the encoding process appearing in the GUI in Windows, thus ensuring the command line window remains hidden at all times.
The new version runs on Windows (2000 or later), Mac (OS X 10.5 or later, Intel only) and Linux platforms, and is open source.