Freemake Video Downloader

Note: This review addresses v2.01 of the software.

Freemake Video Downloader is a completely free app that rips a Flash video from one of a number of Web sources and converts the video to the format you want for offline viewing. The previous version was already a must-have app, and version 2.0 adds a few critical new features to the mix that make it even better. The app now converts on the fly as it downloads, which saves a lot of time. All of the video file types and presets formerly present only in sister app Freemake Video Converter are now included, meaning that only one app is now required (though Converter is still useful for additional fine-tuning of the conversion process). You can now select a destination folder for the converted video, and more information such as file size and duration are made available as the video is being downloaded and converted.

Included presets include the iPhone, but not the iPad: You'll need to fine-tune in Freemake Video Converter or HandBrake in order to optimize video for the iPad's odd dimensions.

Freemake Video Downloader 2.0 also upports ripping video from MTV Network's network of video sites, such as Comedy Central, South Park Studios, The Daily Show and VH1. Since clips from MTV's shows are generally not present on YouTube (by mandate), Freemake Video Converter now has access to a much wider range of content.

Even more important, Freemake Video Downloader now works with Hulu, at least for the time being. Hulu has been known to release new security updates frequently, locking out downloaders or set-top boxes from viewing its content. But as of this writing, I was able to download a new Simpsons episode from Hulu and convert it to AVI on the fly. It took about an hour. (Note that Hulu videos that refer to another site, such as Glee on Fox's website, do not work with Freemake Video Downloader.)

Freemake Video Downloader does not work with Netflix Instant Viewing--yet. At the rate this app is going, though, it may not be long. As long as you're not violating copyright in the process (i.e. sharing around the ripped and converted file), Freemake Video Downloader is an excellent choice for viewing Web video how and where you want.

--Steve Horton

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