A video converter is a specialized file converter that allows you to convert one kind of video format (like an AVI, MPG, MOV, etc.) into another. If you've found yourself unable to use a certain video in the way you wanted because the format wasn't supported, a free video converter can help.
Important: Every video converter program listed below is freeware - no shareware or trialware here. I also haven't listed any video converters that trim or watermark videos.
Here's a list of the best free video converter software and free online video converters available today:
Any Video Converter is a really easy to use free video converter - just choose your source file and output format and go. If you need them, there are lots of advanced options too like batch conversion, file merging, and frame cropping.
Input Formats: 3G2, 3GP, 3GP2, 3GPP, AMV, ASF, AVI, AVS, DAT, DIVX, DVR-MS, F4V, FLV, M1V, M2P, M2TS, M2V, M4V, MKV, MOD, MOV, MP4, MPE, MPEG, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MPG, MPV, MS-DVR, MTS, NSV, OGG, OGM, OGV, QT, RM, RMVB, RV, TOD, TP, TRP, TS, VOB, VRO, and WMV
Output Formats: AVI, FLV, MKV, MP4, MPG, SWF, and WMV
The only thing I didn't like about Any Video Converter was the window that appeared after each video conversion suggesting that you upgrade to the "pro" version to enable more output formats.
Free Studio Manager is a collection of integrated video converter programs. Just click DVD and Video from the main screen and then choose what video converting activity you'd like to complete.
Free Studio Manager is light on options but is super easy to use.
Input Formats: 3G2, 3GP, 3GP2, 3GPP, AMV, ASF, AVI, DVR-MS, FLV, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPE, MPG, QT, and WMV
Output Formats: 3GP, AVI, FLV, MP4, SWF, and VOB (DVD)
During setup, Free Studio Manager asks if you'd like to install the DVDVideoSoft toolbar but it's easy to skip.
HandBrake is an incredibly easy to use free video converter that's most useful for converting pretty much any video file you might have into one that'll work with your mobile device.
Input Formats: AVI, FLV, OGM, MP4, MOV, MPG, SWF, WMV, VOB (DVD), WMV, and XVID (HandBrake's website says "Most any multimedia file" - let me know if you can confirm any more)
Output Formats: MP4 and MKV
YouConvertIt is an online video converter service that will convert many popular video formats. You just upload the video file and wait for an email link to the converted file.
Input Formats: 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, RM, SWF, and WMV
Output Formats: 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, RM, SWF, and WMV
The biggest disadvantage with YouConvertIt is the wait time to upload the video and receive your email. Their 300MB file size limit is certainly disappointing as well considering the fact that many video files can exceed this size.
Zamzar is another online video converter service that supports most common video formats.
Input Formats: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, FLV, GVI, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPG, RM, RMVB, VOB, and WMV
Output Formats: 3G2, 3GP, AVI, FLV, MP4, MOV, MP4, MPG, and WMV
The worst thing about Zamzar is their 100MB limit for source files which is a significant drawback considering the large size of most video files. I also found Zamzar's conversion time a bit slow, even for an online video converter service.