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Big box of video freeware

Play, burn, rip, convert, and edit video, audio, and images with this full-featured suite of free tools.

Free Studio bundles DVDVideoSoft's numerous free video, audio, and image tools into a versatile suite. Despite its many choices, a well-designed control panel makes it extremely easy to access just what you need.

Free Studio requires at least 278MB of free disk space, quite a substantial package for freeware. The check boxes that set the developer's Web site and search engine as defaults were already selected by the installation wizard (can't blame them for trying); we unchecked them, of course. Free Studio's unique interface is one of the most sensibly designed we've seen. Aside from its attractive 3D graphics, it's laid out in eight large buttons accessing important features: YouTube, for Web video; MP3 & Audio, for your tunes; CD, BD, DVD, for ripping, burning, dubbing, and converting; DVD & Video, for playback; Photos & Images, for your pictures; Mobiles, for cell phone vids and apps; Apple Devices; and 3D, for making 3D videos and images. A slider button on top of Free Studio's interface toggles the animated intro on and off.

We were curious about the 3D items, so we started there. The 3D button accesses two tools, Free 3D Photo Maker and Free 3D Video Maker. The photo tool seemed very easy to use, but it requires 3D glasses to view images, which we didn't have handy, so we moved on to the Mobile selection, which offered a page full of small apps designed for specific brands, formats, and devices, such as Android, Nokia, Samsung, Sony PSP, XBox, and Nintendo. Each shared a simple, wizard-based interface, as did most of the other tools bundled in Free Studio; for instance, the disc-burning section contained not only audio and video disc burners but also video and audio conversion tools like Free Audio CD to MP3. The DVD & Video section offers 10 tools for recording, converting, dubbing, and sharing video. Some tools, such as the 3D video and photo apps, show up in more than one section, which we think is fine since it makes them more accessible.

DVDVideoSoft's multimedia tools are easy to use and good performers. We'd like to see links to a Help file or other assistance for the individual tools, though we encountered nothing confusing or unclear. We think Free Studio is a great idea, bundling together a full suite of competent, straightforward video and audio freeware.

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