Canopus ProCorder 1.5

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Canopus ProCoder 1.5

Canopus's ProCoder was launched to much fanfare and greeted with more than a little disappointment. Can V1.5 half-secure Canopus's place in the video software market?

There's no doubt that Canopus makes quality products, but the company's slow entry into the software market has been a rather shaky one. The backbone for Canopus's software division was laid in the development of single-purpose tools and editors for owners of Canopus DV hardware. Video Doctor provided simple video filters, Xplode provided wild and wacky 3D transition effects, and SoftMPEG enabled software encoding for DVD at a time when good quality options were scarce. There was also a first-rate PAL/NTSC conversion program. Many of these programs have been released in one form or another for non-Canopus based systems. Video Doctor, SoftMPEG and the video standards converter make up part of ProCoder's toolkit.
When it was originally launched, there was a huge need for ProCoder - or any multi-format media encoder - to compete with Cleaner. Cleaner had changed hands too often, badly needed updating, and its future seemed uncertain. And while the first release of ProCoder did an excellent job, there were many disappointments - particularly in the lack of multi-bit-rate support for RealVideo and Windows Media files, which is an alarming omission for such an expensive application. Now, it's hoped that ProCoder 1.5 can bring some much-needed competition to the do-it-all encoder arena.
V1.5 isn't a dramatic change from the first release of ProCoder, but it does address a lot of fundamental concerns and places it in a stronger position to compete with Cleaner. The program is nicely designed, but we'd like to see more control over batch lists - assuming that users might not want to apply all the same output profiles to all source files. While encoding speeds were pedestrian in our tests, it should be noted that the system we used is a modest one, and ProCoder will work much faster on faster machines.
For existing users, upgrading is a no-brainer - it's a free download from Canopus's website, providing you've registered your existing copy. For those that haven't yet taken the plunge, a lot of barriers have been removed, but we feel that the biggest is still there - the price. ProCoder is obviously priced to compete with Cleaner, but we've long argued that this is too expensive as well. Canopus seems determined to maintain an air of market snobbery about its products - as if they're too good to be in the mainstream. And while there's no doubt that the company makes good stuff, we can't help but think that a price cut of £200 would increase ProCoder sales considerably.

Peter Wells

Read the full feature in November 2003's Computer Video magazine.


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