Free Studio by DVDVideoSoft is an all-inclusive software suite containing a broad range of free audio, video and image tools packed into a single interface for the user’s comfort. While you may not need all of the utilities contained by Free Studio (over 40 different free programs) the fact that you get all of them bundled makes it a highly valuable program.
Free Studio is about 63 MB large, which is not bad at all considering it contains 47 utilities. It also installs quickly, but pay attention to the setup windows since it does contain several forms of adware: Firstly, it will attempt to install the DVDVideoSoft Toolbar, and change your browser’s homepage & default search engine to DVDVideoSoft web search. Secondly, if you choose to skip these and click “Next”, Free Studio will prompt you again to install the toolbar since it is required to enable Smart Acceleration (which is supposed to increase download and conversion speed) so you’ll have to cancel again if you don’t want the toolbar. And thirdly, Free Studio will ask your permission to install Speech Grid, a program designed to improve the research in automatic Speech Recognition by using your spare computing power. It can’t be classified as adware, but it has no role in Free Studio’s functionality, so you might not want it on your computer.
All of the tools contained by Free Studio are small and lightweight so there are only system requirements. The program runs on Windows XP SP3/Vista/7 and requires .Net Framework 2 SP2.
Free Studio’s interface reflects the true power of this program. Not only it packs a nifty set of multimedia tools, but the GUI also makes them easy to find and use. The categories – YouTube, MP3 & Audio, CD/DVD/BD, DVD & Video, Photo & Images, Mobiles, Apple Devices – are organized as large, colourful tiles with fluid animations on mouse hover. Clicking on any category will reveal a submenu with the set of related tools. But let’s see what exactly is hidden behind these, eye-catching, polished icons.
The YouTube section reveals tools for YouTube video download, conversion to MP3, iPod, iPhone and DVD but also for uploading videos to YouTube and Facebook. MP3 & Audio contains various audio converters – general, audio to flash, YouTube to MP3, video to MP3, audio CD to MP3 -, an audio editor and a CD burner. Just as expected, the CD/DVD/BD category delivers several optical disk authoring applications and the DVD & VIDEO section boasts numerous video to video and video to audio converters but also to other file formats such as JPG, a video editor, a 3D video creator and other related tools.
On the same note, the Photo & Images menu provides image conversion and editing applications and the Mobile & Apple Devices sections have video conversion tools for all major phone brands. Last but not least, the 3D menu lists 3D creation tools for photos and videos.
Navigating through the interface is very easy since inside every menu there is a “Back” button that allows you to return to the main window. Another interesting aspect of Free Studio is the fact that several tools can be found in more than one category. However, all of the tools have their icon in the same colour as their source category. For example, in the MP3 & Audio menu (red colour-coding), you will find the “Free Video to MP3” converter but its icon is green, not red, meaning it’s source category is in fact DVD & Video. This can be classified as an elegant solution to displaying tools that are related but not part of the currently selected category.
- Stylish and well-organized interface with large, polished icons.
- Rich set of lightweight and easy to use multimedia tools.
- The Mobile section provides video converters to formats of all major mobile phone brands.
- The “Free YouTube Download” and “Free YouTube to MP3 Converter” also include a Google Chrome extension that allows you to download videos or download&convert them to MP3 using the right-click menu in your Chrome browser.
- No adware is present within Free Studio’s interface.
- Adware-bloated install process.
- Documentation resumes to a FAQ and a forum. No Help file is available.
To be honest, Free Studio is a unique software bundle, and you couldn’t tell it’s free by using it. The attractive and rigorously organized interface and the easy to use multimedia tools are proof that sometimes freeware doesn’t imply compromising on quality. We would love to see an option added in the install process where the user can manually choose which applications should be installed. However, since Free Studio packs such small apps this can hardly be called a problem.