Aside from the new 64-bit version of the app, which encodes video about 10% faster than the 32-bit version, HandBrake has seen a slew of interesting and much needed improvements.
HandBrake now uses a new DVD reading library which will allow it to read some DVDs that it had trouble with before. The app is also focusing on quality-based encoding, explained best on HandBrake’s website:
This means that instead of telling encoders to use a specific size and vary quality to meet it, we tell the encoder to vary size to meet a given quality level. Overall quality improves, since bits are spent only when they are needed, and are saved when they are not. While this means output size is somewhat unpredictable, the results in picture quality speak for themselves.
Hard drives are cheap and the boost in quality will be greatly appreciated. The release notes also say that 2-pass encoding is no longer needed.
A single pass at a constant quality provides just as much compression efficiency as two passes at an average bitrate.
The developers have decided to simplify the applications default presets, that means no more PSP, PS3, Xbox 360, Film, etc. presets, there is now a “Normal” and a “High Profile” preset, both should work on device that supports standard Main Profile H.264 with AAC-LC audio in an MP4 file.
The new version has also received some changes to the user interface. Overall this update is fantastic, I’m not too happy with the placement of the deinterlace options but I’m willing to forgive them because of all the other improvements. I can say for certain that encode times have improved and that alone makes the one year development time worth it.
Update 12/20/09: VLC is Looking for Mac Developers