Prism is a shareware video file converter from NCH Software. It can convert files from and to most common formats, including AVI, MPG, VOB, WMV, and FLV, singly or in batches, and it also converts any file format based on a DirectShow codec into AVI and WMV files. Basically, if you can play it with Windows Media Player, you can convert it with Prism, according to the developer. It also fetches and converts files directly from DVDs and multimedia devices.
Prism's gridded main view and control icons have the familiar look of most such tools, largely dictated by function and efficiency. Icons labeled Add Folder, Add DVD, Remove, Remove All, Play, and Convert hardly need much in the way of an explanation, and we quickly added an MPG file from our library to the program's convert list. Beneath the main view, we could browse to and select an output folder and format for our converted videos. Clicking Encoder Options called up a small dialog labeled AVI Encoding Settings with settings for video and sound compression standards as well as digital audio frequency and sample rate in both mono and stereo formats. The Video Options dialog let us resize the video and change the frame rate, while the Effects suite let us adjust brightness, contrast, and gamma; apply filtering; and add text for a title or captions in a font color of our choosing. Once we'd made all our choices, we clicked Convert, and Prism quickly processed our file and saved the finished job in our chosen folder. When we clicked on our converted video, it opened and played normally, to our eyes a perfect copy of the original.
Of course, there are many free video converters out there, and they do a good job too, so why would you buy Prism? Pro users have certain expectations of pro-level tools, and Prism certainly seems to meet them. However, NCH is apparently well aware of the competition since conversion to AVI and WMV formats is still free after the shareware's 14-day trial expires. That makes Prism an attractive choice for the multitude of users who really only want to convert videos into a format they can view anyway. It also integrates with NCH's other tools via the Toolbox utility.
Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of Prism Video File Converter 1.61. The trial version is limited to 14 days.