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Top 15 Media, Video & Audio utilities

Our pick of the web's best & mostly free tools

VIDEO SOFTWARE

From YouTube downloaders and uploaders to file converters and file shrinkers, we've uncovered a great set of video tools.

TubeMe

Ever wished you could save a YouTube video to your hard drive? This simple freebie lets you can do the trick, rendering any YouTube video as savable .flv file. Afterward you can play the video with any media player, send it to friends, burn it to disk, or whatever. You'll need your media player to do handle those operations; this program simply converts and downloads the files.

To copy the videos to your hard disk, just copy their links to TubeMe, and click a few buttons. You can queue up multiple files and download them en masse. Windows Media Player, by the way, won't play .flv files. But the ever-useful VLC Media Player plays them without a hitch.

Download TubeMe.

Free YouTube Uploader

As its name indicates, this program is designed to upload videos to YouTube. Run the program and enter your user name and password, and it logs you into YouTube. Then select your video, write a title and description, add tags, and walk through the simple steps of uploading the video, including selecting a category.

Free YouTube Uploader does more than just automate video uploading. Because YouTube enforces a limit of 10 minutes or 100MB per video, the program includes an easy-to-use video trimmer that you can use to pare down the video you want before uploading it.

Download Free YouTube Uploader.

VirtualDub

This wonderful file for video processing geeks serves as a kind of free, open-source ‘Photoshop’ application for video.

At a basic level, it can capture video and enable you to save it. But beyond that, it's a very good tool for cleaning up and trimming video - especially if you want to use it in concert with a more full-featured video editing program. It lets you crop or compress video, remove and replace audio tracks without changing the video, and use filters to sharpen and blur. You can even delete individual frames. Highly recommended.

Download VirtualDub.

DVD Shrink

It's your own personal on-disc therapist! No, actually it's a handy program for people who want to create backup copies of DVDs on their PC's hard drive. Later, they can use Windows Media Center or another DVD media player to play the DVDs on their computer. DVD Shrink lets you rip the DVD to your hard disk in various formats, including a lossless one that retains the original disc's image and audio quality. Other format options let you save hard-drive space. And you can customize the quality setting for any new DVD.

DVD Shrink preserves all of the original DVD's content, including menus, trailers, and subtitles. Or if you prefer, you can eliminate any such content. Best of all, the program is free.

Download DVD Shrink.

AVI/MPEG/RM/WMV Joiner

Suppose that you have movie clips in various formats - say, .AVI, .MPEG, Real Media, and .WMV - that you'd like to combine into a single large clip. Don't bother to invest time and money into learning some powerful video-editing software package. Instead, give AVI/MPEG/RM/WMV Joiner a try.

With this tool you choose the clips you want to merge, then rearrange them in the order you like, and finish by clicking the Merge button. It's that easy. You can save the merged video to the format of your choice - MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, or Divx, among others. The shareware is free to try for 10 days, after which keeping it costs $20 (£10).

Download AVI/MPEG/RM/WMV Joiner.

Xilisoft iPod Video Converter

Though there are plenty of videos in the world, few of them can play on your iPod. To convert them to an iPod-friendly format, you need Xilisoft iPod Video Converter. It does a fine job of converting just about any file format you can name into a format viewable on your iPod, including AVI, MPEG, WMV, MOV, RM, RMVB, DivX, ASF, VOB, and 3GP.

In addition, Xilisoft can convert a multitude of audio files to iPod-friendly formats - including WAV, WMA, MP2, AC3, RA, OGG, CDA, and APE - to iPod MP3, M4A, or AAC. And it supports the latest iPod specs for MPEG-4 video at 640 by 480 resolution. The program does more as well, including ripping CDs. This shareware costs $29.95 (£15) to register.

Download Xilisoft iPod Video Converter.


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