Freemake Video Converter welcome window: user-friendly and easy on the eyes. (Credit: Screenshot by Jasmine France)

Freemake Video Converter promises to be to Windows users what Handbrake is to Mac users. This free app is built using Microsoft's .NET Framework 4, which is a programming model that allows developers to provide software with interfaces that are easy to use and visually appealing. Certainly, both are true when it comes to Freemake, which offers a Maclike window with rounded edges and large, explicit function buttons.

Downloading and installing Freemake Video Converter is a painless process, and the app takes up a modest amount of space (30MB) on your hard drive. As noted, the main window is very straightforward. Lining the top are media buttons for video, audio, DVD, and photo, each with a plus symbol adjacent to indicate that's how one can add the various file types. Once files are added, another set of soft keys along the bottom of the window lets you easily select the format you want to convert to.

Freemake Video Converter can transcode a huge array of video file types, including AVI, MOV, M4V, MP4, and FLV, and it can convert from virtually any audio file type into MP3. It also throws in photo support as an added bonus (not necessary, in our opinion, but still nice). It also works for backing up DVDs into a variety of video formats, and the program includes some handy helpers for converting video directly into a file type that's compatible with a particular device such as an iPhone 4, a Sony PSP, or a Zune. Freemake also offers companion freeware--Video Downloader--that lets you download content directly from sites such as Veoh and YouTube and covert in the process.

In our tests, we focused mainly on the video aspect of Freemake, since that's its main purpose. The software converted a variety of file types flawlessly to MP4 for our iPod Touch. The process was fairly slow--three videos totaling 17 minutes took more than 20 minutes to convert. Ripping from DVD presented some problems; the program crashed once and was generally painfully slow. But it did get the job done--for free--so we're willing to forgive some shortcomings. To improve performance and avoid impatience, we recommend doing your conversion jobs overnight.

Download Freemake Video Converter.