I’ve had my eye on the Elgato Turbo H.264 video encoder
ever since they announced it. It’s a USB stick, larger than your average flash drive, that houses a hardware encoder for H.264 video. H.264 is a newish video codec that provides very high quality video at relatively small files sizes. But the downside to that is that encoding H.264 video (e.g., exporting from your original video source to the final video format and size) is VERY processor intensive. I do all of my video in iMovie and H.264 Quicktime, and it takes roughly 4 hours to encode 40 minutes of H.264 video at 640×360 or 640×480. According to the claims made by Elgato, this little USB encoder can do it 4 times faster. Not bad for a hundred bucks, if you do a lot of video encoding.
As soon as it became available for order, I got the OK to pick one up. It arrived yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet – I want to get a reference video and do some benchmark tests. But it looks and feels pretty slick. It comes with an application (Mac only – sorry, Windows folks) that appears to be a simple “drop video files here” encoder front end. Not sure if it works from directly within iMovie yet, or if I have to export video as DV from iMovie, then drop it onto the Turbo H. 264 software (it would be nice if that extra step weren’t required).
I’ll update more as I get some time with it, and post some sample videos. Let me know if you have any questions about it!