Roxio Crunch

Matthew JC. Powell
30 November, 2007
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There can be little doubt that Apple has got serious about making the Mac the centre of your video-viewing experience. From the latest iPod nanos to the iPod touch, the iPhone (when it comes) and the Apple TV, it’s kind of tricky to buy a device with an Apple logo on it that can’t play videos these days.

The increasingly inaccurately-named iTunes is the means by which Apple wants you to manage and move your digital media. The rick is getting it all from the various different sources and formats and into iTunes, then putting it out in formats suitable for the various different devices.

For instance, you can have one file that will play on both your iPod nano and your Apple TV, but if it’s big enough to take full advantage of your TV’s screen, it’s going to take up a big chunk of your nano’s limited storage space. And if it’s economical enough for your nano, it’s going to look a little dodgy on TV.

This is what Roxio Crunch fixes. You simply select your video source (VIDEO_TS folders or unencrypted DVDs, AVI, DV, MOV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX and more are supported), tell it which bits you want to crunch (you might want only the main video from a DVD, for instance) and tell it what format you want the crunched file to be in. You can either add the finished file directly to your iTunes library or save it elsewhere (if you want to play it on a PSP, for example).

And that’s it. A few minutes elapse (or a lot of minutes, depending on the length of the video and how much you’re crunching) and your file is there, ready for you, Save multiple versions for AppleTV and iPod nano so you can take best advantage of the device involved.

The version I tested came out before the iPod touch, but I found using the “iPhone” export setting gave me a very pleasing result. The range of export options is as wide as the range of import options, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll find a file that Crunch can’t interpret or a device to which it can’t export.

I fought the law. One thing some users may regard as a drawback is the program’s inability to decode encrypted DVDs. Obviously this prevents you “backing up” your DVD collection to your Apple TV. That’s because that is illegal, immoral and fattening (depending on your popcorn intake).

If you do want to create such “backups” (at your own legal risk), other programs like HandBrake do similar things to what Roxio Crunch can do and can also unencrypt CSS-coded DVDs — but HandBrake is nowhere near as simple to use as Crunch, and to my eye doesn’t do as good a job. And of course there are numerous utilities around that will do the “rip” part for you and then you can let Crunch do the rest.

I “backed up” a copy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (purely for review purposes, honestly officer) using both HandBrake and a combination of Mac the Ripper and Crunch, and found the latter was easier and provided a better final result.

So if you’ve been frustrated at the emptiness of the “TV Shows” and “Movies” categories on your Apple TV because there’s no content available on the local iTunes Store, Crunch does offer a solution — albeit with a little help.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice.
If you have a collection of videos in diverse formats, collected from all sorts of sources and spread all over your various hard drives, Crunch provides the easiest way to get it all into your iTunes library and out to your playing devices in the highest possible quality. And that’s it.

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