Price When Reviewed: 251 . 302 . 393 . 99
Pros: Powerful feature set; built-in FTP upload; excellent quality; fast encoding; intuitive interface; support for Blu-ray content.
Cons: Watermark filter needs tweaking; no built-in or bundled SWF or FLV viewer; expensive for basic compression tasks.
New features in version 5 are BluRay VC-1 support, improved MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoding, H.264 support and an improved de-interlace filter (blend and adaptive blend) on the visuals side, with AC-3 5.1/7.1 sound encoding and VST plug-in compatibility for the audio. The Pro version also includes Bias ‘SoundSoap’.
Performance varies, as you’d expect with a software-based solution, depending upon the host hardware. Squeeze 5 boasts multi-file encoding (1.5 files on each core) so multi-core systems obviously fare better.
Version 5 has several extra usability upgrades. FTP upload, for example, now happens within the program. The upload settings can be grouped with video and audio presets to create a single Audience Preset. With an Audience Preset defined, dragging it onto a clip means all the presets (compression, filters, cropping and upload etc) happen automatically. Unlike Apple’s Compressor, there is also a welcome Test Settings option for the FTP destination server.
Our criticisms of Squeeze 5 are minor. As straightforward as the majority of the options within the program are, the audio mixer is an exception. Also, the watermark filter only allows images to be positioned centrally or in a corner. A numerical offset would be far preferable for specific positioning. There were also times when the watermark didn’t preview correctly.
It would also be nice to have some form of FLV and SWF playback built in, so FLV and SWF files can be viewed offline before uploading. Finally, an ‘open recent’ dialog for the File menu would be a simple but helpful addition.
The choice of Squeeze versions can be bewildering. Unless Flash VP6 output, SoundSoap or command line control are crucial, we’d choose the standard version. If you need even fewer output options, the Flash-only version is great value at £99.
Squeeze isn’t the cheapest encoder, but it’s certainly amongst the most user-friendly. It’s an ideal tool for click and forget compression that embraces formats like Blu-ray.