Hamster Is A Free, Highly User-Friendly Video Converter [Windows]

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intro1   Hamster Is A Free, Highly User Friendly Video Converter [Windows]In order to improve my earlier tutorial screencasts, I’ve been experimenting with video editing using free applications, such as Wax 2.0 and VirtualDub to release videos on Youtube. This, of course, comes with a lot of back-and-forth video conversion tasks as most free video editors seem to only accept AVI files (except Avidemux which also takes MP4).

Online video converters are incredibly convenient (Zamzar is one of my favorites as it converts in high-quality), but having an application on the desktop seems to make more sense if I needed to consistently convert videos.


Thus, I scoured the web for a good freeware video converter, such as the ones found on this handy list and another one on free video-and-audio converters. A number of them seemed too complicated or bloated for my needs as I only wanted a quick converting app and to avoid spending so much time figuring out the conversion procedure when video-editing just consumes as much time. Then I found Hamster Free Video Converter and looked for more information at the publisher’s site, which comes with no nag-screen of any kind or ads (unless you count the author’s Facebook, Twitter and Youtube links as ads). It’s currently my favorite application for Windows (might be yours soon too!)

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You can get the installer (14.2MB) from the Download.com page. Once you complete the installation, you can get started converting videos for your desktop and portable electronics in a jiffy.

Beautiful & Numbered Interface

One of the most striking things you notice when you first launch the installed program is the beautiful interface. Contrary to a lot of other video converters which offer overwhelming interfaces with way too many confusing buttons and options, this program sports a cleaner look which you can definitely tell it was carefully- and well-designed. It features 3 tabs, each indicating the steps needed to convert your videos: adding files, choosing settings, and converting.

111   Hamster Is A Free, Highly User Friendly Video Converter [Windows]

The first tab is where you drag and drop your files. You can also add files by clicking on the button to browse.

21   Hamster Is A Free, Highly User Friendly Video Converter [Windows]

The application also supports batch conversion to a specific format or container so you can drag and drop several videos at a time. You also have a video player on the right of the first tab so you can confirm that you have the correct files. One drawback is that the player doesn’t seem to produce any audio, but you can still look and verify at the audio codec information, as well as other file details right underneath in the Info box.

Choosing Conversion Settings

After you’ve added your desired files to convert, proceed to click on the second tab titled Edit, which lists all the possible output formats and device presets. It includes very recent devices such as the iPad and iPhone 4, as well as Android, Blackberry, PSP, Xbox, Zune, etc.

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For AVI, WMV and FLV outputs, you can additionally select to deinterlace and resize the video, and change the frame rate and bit rate.

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When you’re converting to AVI, you can also pick codecs, such as DivX or Xvid (which were explained more in Best Settings & Formats For Youtube Videos), which depends on the ones you have installed on your system.

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If you regularly find yourself converting videos, you can save your settings to use them next time by clicking on Add To Favorites.

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When you’re all set choosing your settings, go on to the third tab to click Convert and just wait for the videos to be converted.

Supported Languages & Themes

The program has been translated to a good deal of languages including Spanish (which I tested and determined, has great translations), French, Japanese, etc. which you can switch to by clicking on Settings at the title bar, selecting Language and checking one of the numerous languages. According to the official developer blog, the list of supported languages nears 40 which includes a lot of other languages that you don’t usually see support for.

31   Hamster Is A Free, Highly User Friendly Video Converter [Windows]

The original color of the interface is actually yellow but if you dive into its Settings, you can also click on Themes, which brings up a rainbow palette for you to customize the color.

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Have you got a favorite free video converter in mind you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

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40 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Monimonika

Is there any free converter that can handle swf video files? I found a converter that handles them nicely, but need to pay about $50 to take out the watermark (at least I can rip the audio out for free…).

For free converters that claim to support ALL the popular video formats, why is swf (compressed)* not included at all?

*Most swf videos are compressed while the free converters I’ve tried out that claim to support swf only work for uncompressed.

Jessica Cam W.

I’ve been looking for one too, but haven’t found anything that’s free. It’d be helpful if you could tell us what software you’ve tried so others can recommend additional programs.

Monimonika

Okay, let’s see:

The one that I found that works nicely is called “iWisoft Flash SWF to Video Converter”. The output quality was pretty good, but the free version puts a watermark on the video. Audio ripping is free. (I’m at the point where I think I can live with the watermark…$49 is just way too much to spend over a smudge in the corner)

Programs I’ve tried that claimed to handle swf input:

Freemake Video Converter = (swf must be uncompressed)
SUPER © = Error when trying to convert compressed swf
SWF & FLV Toolbox = not free, but I couldn’t even get the demo (watermarked) version to work (but that’s most likely because of my stupid compaq notebook rather than the program itself)

What I don’t get is that a lot of these kind of programs have swf as an output option, but not as an input option. What’s up with that?

Jessica Cam W.

Wow, those are pretty much the ones that I found on forums that supposedly work. How about trying screen recording software like Camstudio (portable)?

Monimonika

Eeeh, I tried Camstudio before but had some trouble with getting a decent output video. Can’t remember the details of what I tried, but I switched back to another program I was (and somewhat still am) using.

“Debut Video Capture Software” is what I currently have and I keep it because it was what worked in capturing a video from NicoNicoDouga that I wished to play on my Ipod but with the comments included. There’s noticeable loss in quality when there’s a high framerate, but the original video wasn’t that high quality in the first place anyway. I think I’ll continue experimenting with Debut in trying to get a decent framerate output.

Jessica Cam W.

So I just found this free portable converter that seems to take SWF files. Let me know if you have any luck with it!

Monimonika

Hi Jessica!

Nope, the converter didn’t work on the file I wanted to convert. I guess we’re stuck doing either of the following:

1) Learn to love the watermark. (blegh!)
2) Shell out the $$$. (eek!)
3) Crappily try to record from the screen. (hunts for a decent free screen recorder…)
4) Hopefully find a non-swf version of video online.

Jessica Cam W.

Oh, sorry! I guess if you’re converting the SWF files on a regular basis, 2) might be the best solution, but 4) sounds like what I would do too.

Reply

Monimonika

Is there any free converter that can handle swf video files? I found a converter that handles them nicely, but need to pay about $50 to take out the watermark (at least I can rip the audio out for free…).

For free converters that claim to support ALL the popular video formats, why is swf (compressed)* not included at all?

*Most swf videos are compressed while the free converters I’ve tried out that claim to support swf only work for uncompressed.

Reply

SiNTAX

I use Freemake myself. Only tried the PSP settings so don’t know how good it is all round but for what I want, it’s perfect!

http://www.freemake.com/free_video_converter/

Jessica Cam W.

MakeUseOf reviewed this recently so click here to see screenshots and more!

SiNTAX

Sweet! Confirmed my thoughts on the program. Thank You.

Reply

SiNTAX

I use Freemake myself. Only tried the PSP settings so don’t know how good it is all round but for what I want, it’s perfect!

http://www.freemake.com/free_v

Reply

Robert_M

Okay, that Hamster is just TOO cute. Should be illegal!!

:3

Jessica Cam W.

It’s from their Hamster software website. They got some very good designers!

Reply

Robert_M

Okay, that Hamster is just TOO cute. Should be illegal!!

:3

Reply

Monimonika

Okay, let’s see:

The one that I found that works nicely is called “iWisoft Flash SWF to Video Converter”. The output quality was pretty good, but the free version puts a watermark on the video. Audio ripping is free. (I’m at the point where I think I can live with the watermark…$49 is just way too much to spend over a smudge in the corner)

Programs I’ve tried that claimed to handle swf input:

Freemake Video Converter = (swf must be uncompressed)
SUPER © = Error when trying to convert compressed swf
SWF & FLV Toolbox = not free, but I couldn’t even get the demo (watermarked) version to work (but that’s most likely because of my stupid compaq notebook rather than the program itself)

What I don’t get is that a lot of these kind of programs have swf as an output option, but not as an input option. What’s up with that?

Reply

Christian

Really nice this Hamster! :-)

Reply

Gianluca Ballarin

formatfactory

Reply

y0himba

Be sure to select CUSTOM install and remove all the Bing garbage. Bing toolbar, Bing.com home page change, and Bing.com default search.

http://www.y0himba.net/images/misc/junk.jpg

Jessica Cam W.

I always choose custom installation and totally forgot to mention this. Thank you for the keen observation!

Reply

y0himba

Be sure to select CUSTOM install and remove all the Bing garbage. Bing toolbar, Bing.com home page change, and Bing.com default search.

http://www.y0himba.net/images/

Reply

Dan-003

I don’t like Hamster, it looks ugly and often fails to convert huge files

Jessica Cam W.

I honestly haven’t seen many other video converters (Any Video Converter is a good one though) that feature such a beautiful interface. Any videos I’ve thrown at Hamster have converted just fine for me. Maybe you’re having a codec issue?

Reply

Castius

Xmedia recoder Is my new friend! It has good presets but also gives you full control. Because many converts get frame-rate and aspect ratio wrong. Plus you can set up multiple files to convert. Not to mention already does webm. http://www.xmedia-recode.de

Reply

Castius

Xmedia recoder Is my new friend! It has good presets but also gives you full control. Because many converts get frame-rate and aspect ratio wrong. Plus you can set up multiple files to convert. Not to mention already does webm. http://www.xmedia-recode.de

Reply

Monimonika

Eeeh, I tried Camstudio before but had some trouble with getting a decent output video. Can’t remember the details of what I tried, but I switched back to another program I was (and somewhat still am) using.

“Debut Video Capture Software” is what I currently have and I keep it because it was what worked in capturing a video from NicoNicoDouga that I wished to play on my Ipod but with the comments included. There’s noticeable loss in quality when there’s a high framerate, but the original video wasn’t that high quality in the first place anyway. I think I’ll continue experimenting with Debut in trying to get a decent framerate output.

Reply

Jessica Cam W.

Before Hamster, the video converters I had used all had somewhat high learning curves where you had to mess with codecs for video and audio. Launching these other programs for the first time proved a bit discouraging so I recommend Hamster’s numbered interface for users that just want to launch an app and have it work quickly.

Reply

bt

Can it cut parts?
Can it join files?

Jessica Cam W.

Unfortunately not, but you can use VirtualDub (open-source and portable) to perform those tasks easily. Here’s how to merge videos.

Reply

bt

Can it cut parts?
Can it join files?

Reply

Nffandrew

Hamster definitely claims to convert .swf files on input to a variety of outputs. In my experience, it does not do so. I’ve tried several different output formats. Anyone have any luck getting Hamster to do this?

Reply

Jessica Cam W.

In the official website, it doesn’t list SWF as a supported input/output format. http://videoconverter.hamsters

Reply

Jessica Cam W.

It doesn’t look like it’s free though. MakeUseOf only suggests free, but still very capable applications.

Reply

Aibek

NOT FREE !!!

Reply

dvd to ipad

The screenshot are totally different from those video converters. Nice job! And I think handbrake is at least worth a mention here.

Reply

dvd to ipad

The screenshot are totally different from those video converters. Nice job! And I think handbrake is at least worth a mention here.

Jessica Cam W.

Handbrake is indeed very capable when you have to convert DVDs, but if you need to convert videos to formats other than MP4 and MKV, you’d have to use something else.

Reply

Monimonika

Hi Jessica!

Nope, the converter didn’t work on the file I wanted to convert. I guess we’re stuck doing either of the following:

1) Learn to love the watermark. (blegh!)
2) Shell out the $$$. (eek!)
3) Crappily try to record from the screen. (hunts for a decent free screen recorder…)
4) Hopefully find a non-swf version of video online.

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