Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


ContextConvert Pro v1.3
by
Harald Freise

They say that ContextConvert Pro is a "convenient, powerful, and highly configurable Windows  application for converting among nearly all-conceivable multimedia formats." Well... it is... sort of.

The application installs easily and once launched, an icon is located in your system tray. To call up ContextConvert Pro it's as easy as selecting the file(s) to be converted, right clicking the mouse, then choosing "Convert... " from the windows context sensitive menu. The process starts and runs a progress bar to keep you updated about the state of the conversion.

According to ContextConvert Pro it takes input from image files formatted from ACS, AFP, ANI, AWD, BMP, CAL, CGM, CLP, CMP, CMX, CUR, CUT, DGN, DIB, DRW, DWF, DWG, DXF, EMF, EPS, EXIF, FAX, FPX, GBR, GEM, GIF, ICA, ICO, IFF, IMG, ITG, J2K, JBIG, JIF, JPG, JTF, LMA, LBM, MAC, MDA, MSP, PBM, PCD, PCL, PCT, PCX, PGM, PNG, PNM, PPM, PSD, PLT, PLT2, PTK, RAS, SCT, SGI, SHP, SMP, SUN, SVG, TIFF, TGA, XBM, XPM, XWD, WBMP, WFX, WMF, and WPG to any one of the following output formats: AWD, BMP, CLP, CUR, CUT, EPS, EXF, FPX, GIF, ICO, IFF, J2K, JBG, JPG, PCT, PCX, PNG, PSD, RAS, SCT, SGI, TGA, TIF, multi page TIFF, WMF, WPG, and XPM. Sheesh, some of these image formats I didn't know even existed.

The image conversion I used most often was to convert the JPG files stored by my camera to the TIFF format so that I can manipulate the images without losing any image quality. I would then return them to JPGs prior to placing them on a CDROM disk and have them printed at a local film processing shop. Normally I use Photoshop to do this process. On several files that the file sizes were significantly different after converting them to the TIFF image format. Photoshop generally rendered smaller converted images. Enlarging the files in Photoshop I could not see any discernable difference in the quality of the images generated by ContextConvert Pro although there was a very, very slight colour shift away from the original image.

Sheesh, some of these image formats
I didn't know even existed.

On several files that the file sizes were significantly different after converting them to the TIFF image format,  Photoshop generally rendered smaller converted images. Enlarging the files in Photoshop I could not see any discernable difference in the quality of the images generated by ContextConvert Pro although there was a very, very slight colour shift away from the original image.

The conversion process is not that speedy. Figure on about 30-40 seconds for each 1MB image using a P4 2.4GB processor with 1GB of memory. When converting multiple images at once, ContextConvert Pro used 99% of the available CPU time and 23,468K of available memory.

Acting as an audio file format converter, it will handle two-way conversions between the currently popular Audio CD Tracks (CDA), MP3, WMA, OGG, and WAV file formats. I could hear no difference in any of these sound files when converted from one file format to another. Then again, I haven't got the freshest set of ears either.

What really caught my eye was the professed ability to convert .AVI video files to MPEG video format. Better than that; it has the ability to convert AVI/MPEG file to the VCD/DVD and DVD MPEG2 formats that are used by most players today that are hooked up to your regular large size home TV screen.

The video conversion process that ContextConvert Pro goes through is actually quite interesting. It separates, or rips; the original file is separated into two files. One is the audio track and the other the images file. They are then recombined into the Video output format of choice. Initially I tried converting a 456MB AVI file into VCD format.

The resulting file was a whopping 872MB. Way too big for any CDROM no matter how much you try over-burn the CD-R. Good thing that most of the processes in  ContextConvert Pro are configurable. Using the menus I was able to cut the resultant file down to a more manageable size that fit on a single CD-R, which could be played on my Apex multi-format DVD player while hooked to the TV. Much better than viewing your video file on your tiny computer screen.

One of the things that irritate me is that ContextConvert Pro's web site says it converts ALL popular video formats. Well, it doesn't. Sadly, it doesn't convert one of the most popular desktop video formats. It doesn't recognize or convert the Apple QuickTime video MOV file format to anything.

One quibble is that once installed and registered you can't easily install and transfer your licence to another machine. Actually, I never got the "transfer licence" feature to work at all. It appears that if you wish to use this application on your laptop and desktop, one has to purchase two licences regardless if you don't use them consecutively.

If there is one major criticism that I could find about ContextConvert Pro is that there is little or no useful documentation available and what is available is less than it could be. Not that this is a complex program but the default settings are sometimes more than one needs and the most complete set of options are quite easy to use after a little experimentation.

If you are just looking for an image conversion program there are other more robust available such as IrfanView. If you are looking for an audio or video conversion program then, they too, are available elsewhere. Only ContextConvert Pro combines all three formats applications into one easy to use application, Overall I think that, given the price and capability of ContextConvert Pro, it is a winner.

ContextConvert Pro Version: 1.3 File Size: 7.14 MB Release Date: 09/11/2003 Price: $40 US

System Requirements:
 * Pentium-class 266mHz Processor or better
 * Windows(R) 98 SE/2000/ME/XP
 * 64 MB RAM (128 MB Recommended)
 * 10 MB HD
 * SVGA or Higher Resolution Display
 * Mouse (Recommended) & Keyboard


Bottom Line:

ContextConvert Pro
$40 US
from Mystik Media
Web site: Http://www.contextconvert.com/


Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews may not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.