Elgato Turbo.264 HD Review


A few years ago I bought an Elgato video encoder at Macworld. This little thumb device immediately became a regular part of my video encoding workflow. Recently Elgato released its upgraded HD version, the Turbo.264 HD which has improved upon the original in every way.

The Turbo.264 HD uses a new HD encoder that handles more formats and is faster than its predecessor. How fast? Really fast. I’ve been using the device a month and usually encoding goes twice as fast with the Turbo.264 HD than it does without it. Sometimes quite a bit faster.


The science behind the Elgato Turbo.264 HD is its ability to take the video encoding work from your processor and do it with the Elgato’s own hardware encoding accelerator. In addition to accomplishing this faster than your Mac’s processor can, this also gives the added benefit of freeing up your processor for other jobs.

Elgato has also improved upon the software. The new version has easy to use presets but also allows you to tweak away.There is also a lightweight editor that allows you to trim and merge clips. The merge function is particularly useful for joining tracks. The QuickTime settings, not present on the older device, give you a ground zero way to export your video. You can set up multiple projects at once and the Elgato will rip through them without further interruption.


Import and export are also easier with baked in support for AVCHD camcorders which converts what used to be a very tedious process into lickety split drag and drop. You can also directly export and upload to YouTube from within the Elgato software.

The device itself still looks like an oversized USB thumb drive. This time there is no cap for the USB plug but it does include a short USB extension cable that is handy when using it on a laptop with close set USB ports.

At $150, this product is not a necessity but it is wonderful luxury. It is good at what it does, consumer level encoding acceleration. It is fast and the final product is good. I don’t see it getting used for any feature films but for the stuff I make, it is just fine. The tipping point is if you are having troubles with video encoding or the process of encoding is interrupting your work. If you encode video once a month and start it off before heading to bed, you can move along. If, however, you are all too familiar with a sluggish Mac and endless encoding of files, you owe it to yourself to take a look at this product. The Elgato Turbo.264 HD can pay for itself in saved time.

You can listen to this review on Surfbits #213.

EyeTV Woes

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Well Apple didn't give me the magic tablet I was hoping for, but they did make the Apple TV much more interesting for me. I do a lot of home video and I was halfway to buying one before. The price drop combined with the ability to rent HD movies puts me in the "will buy" category.

Since I'm intending to do that, I thought I would also get an EyeTV device to allow me to get recorded content onto the Apple TV and my phone. They had a very good deal at Macworld and I picked one up. I have a bit of free time today so I started setting it up but unfortunately the software disc is blank. It has elgato's printing on the disc, it says "eyetv3", but when I put it in my Mac, there is nothing on it. The finder opens up showing a "recordable disk". To make matters worse, I am unable to find a digital download of the eyetv software so my idea of recording tonight's playoff previews on my Mac are dashed.

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I sent an email to elgato. I'll keep you posted on just how good their customer service is.


Update 1.20.08

The elgato customer service is actually very good. I received an email this morning with the download link and an apology. Apparently in their rush to get to Macworld with the new software they had a batch of bad disks.

I hooked it all up night and it delivers as promised ... almost.

In order to get the DVR function working their television guide provider (TitanTV) has got to have your specific cable provider in their system. Mine is Cox communications which apparently didn't make the cut. This could be operator error. I've only been trying to figure it out for an hour.