Grab and convert YouTube videos in one go

A look at five apps that download and convert YouTube videos in one fell swoop.

There are tons of YouTube video-grabbing downloads out there, but relatively few also convert those FLV files for later viewing on a cell phone, iPhone, or other flavor of mobile device. Since we don't like using two apps when we can use one, here's a hand-picked collection of apps containing the packaged set.

CinemaForge

1. Out of all the downloader/converters I tried, nothing felt more honest than CinemaForge, with its homegrown UFO-shaped interface. The freeware app lays down a simple 6-step downloading and conversion trajectory that includes finding a video's "real" URL, as opposed to the "mangled" (shortened) link displayed on most sites. The conversion is quick and accompanied by an optional report, and it's easy to choose from multiple file types and drop videos into a preferred file path. Skip that step, if you prefer, because CinemaForge also lets you publish your newly acquired video to the Web, although if that's your goal, dropping the video's embed code onto a personal profile or Web site is a more straightforward option.


Free FLV Converter

2. With tabs for searching, downloading, and converting video, Free FLV Converter is a fairly beefy app. Unlike most competitors, it finds videos through search rather than by a pasted URL. Other apps download videos from Google, DailyMotion, and MetaCafe in addition to YouTube, but this rarity also serves up content from several adult sites. Parents better keep an eye on this one.

Free FLV Converter saves the video locally as an FLV file, and requires a second step to convert the video to one of five other formats. The two-step process barely qualifies the app for this roundup, but you can do it without closing the app. Free FLV Converter also gets a cheery thumbs up for the in-app preview and PSP conversion option, and an emphatic thumbs down for dragging on board the Dealio toolbar. What's the dealio with that bundling? Though irritating, Dealio is removed easily enough.

YouTube Downloader

3. YouTube Downloader is another freebie with a two-part conversion process that saves a Flash video just so you can dig it up again and convert it. Of course, you can convert all other previously downloaded videos, too. Paste the video URL into the app to save the stream, and when that's done, select "convert video" to make any FLV compatible with iPods, iPhones, cell phones, PSPs, and then some. The choice to add manual parameters catches other formats that YouTube Downloader didn't optimize for.




My Video Downloader

4. With My Video Downloader ($29.99), what you pay for is breadth--apparent compatibility with over 50 video-streaming sites. Paste the URL into the big blue app to kick off downloading. Be forewarned: the trial exacts some personal data (name, gender, e-mail, and ZIP code) before granting access, but converts to Zune video and DVD formats from among the 10 optional formats.




Alive YouTube Video Converter

5. For the same price, Alive YouTube Video Converter ($29.95) offers a wealth of device-specific conversions from a drab XP-inspired interface. This is ideal for you Archos, Sansa, and Zen mavericks. Alive YouTube Video Converter does a fine conversion job, but pins you in the trial by processing only 60 percent of the video.

Other video-grabbing software:
*Free YouTube to iPod Converter 2.8 makes videos iPod-ready.
*Orbit Downloader accelerates download speeds and manages files.
*Ook? Video Ook! is a popular Firefox plug-in.
*TubeSucker seeks out YouTube downloads.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

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