Clean and smooth GUI. Converting feature. Flexible presets and options for a long list of devices. Disc Cover included. Can purchase in box or download.
Black frames after conversion and render stalls. Limited use beyond DVD video burning. Does not convert copy-protected DVDs.
Roxio's Popcorn 3 is a full-featured DVD and video converter that borrows most of its features from the video side of Roxio's Toast program. Popcorn 3 turns any DVD or video into formats usable by all modern electronics, including iPods, PS3s, and even the iPhone. It also offers DVD creation for any task.
A new look
Popcorn 3 has the same attractive new interface as its big brother, Toast 8. All the main features and options are to the left of the workspace and switching between them is a simple click.
When converting video, a nice feature is the ability to preview what the finished video will look like before the actual conversion process. This is very useful because it prevents wasting time converting poor quality video. The interface presents clean and smooth menus without the use of unnecessary graphics.
Popcorn now offers three creative menus for DVD-video projects and places numerous videos into their own separate frames. The window shrinks into a small progress box after activating the conversion or DVD burning process, which is convenient. This frees up your work area and allows other open programs to be seen without clobbering your desktop. After the job is done, the window reverts to its original size.
Any movie, anywhere
The best features of Popcorn 3 are its robust conversion abilities. There is a long list of presets from which to choose any type of portable and gaming electronics, including the Apple TV, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iPhone, Sony PSP, and even the Blackberry. You can also bring over TV shows from a TiVo for conversion. After you select the destination device, there are a few options based on specifications of that device in order to optimize the video performance or quality. A custom option allows you to set all the variables to adjust the overall look of the video. After you set the custom options, you can preview the video. This is an easy to use feature and comes in handy when converting many video clips or movies for certain devices on the fly.
I did experience a few problems, such as random black frames on finished products and conversion stalls that halt the rendering progress. These are very disappointing effects but luckily don't often happen. Generally, the conversion process is quick and painless, but check your final product carefully for problems. The version 3.01 update may fix these issues.
A media drawer makes navigating to the correct folder a snap to find your movies on DivX, or in VIDEO_TS folders or your TV content from EyeTV or TiVo.
Burn it to DVD
While using the same concept and layout as the converting feature, Popcorn offers a variety of ways to make a DVD disk. You can create a sole video DVD from a VIDEO_TS folder, burn a compilation of VIDEO_TS folders, or make a DVD-video with menus. Popcorn 3 is a bit like frosting without the cake compared to Toast 8, which offers more features for an extra $30. Popcorn does not include any options other than DVD video burning, so if you want to make the occasional audio CD or burn data a disk, then you should consider paying a little more and buy Roxio's Toast 8. You can create image files, but only of DVD content, not data files.
Popcorn 3 Interface (Made darker than normal.)
The small manual explains how to accomplish most tasks, and a more complete PDF manual ships on the install CD. In addition, Popcorn 3 includes a light copy of Disc Cover, which you can use to create custom DVD covers.
Overall, Popcorn 3 is a valuable video conversion and DVD creation utility if you only need the video side of Toast.