Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Motionbox

In addition to the umpteen billion photos of Nate's first year (and counting!) I have stored on my computer, I have dozens of videos scattered on random SD cards throughout my house. When I want to share them with someone, I have to (a) show them in person and (b) dig them out from their secret hiding place. I know I should be more organized but I wasn't sure exactly where I could safely store them. I haven't posted many online because, call me paranoid, but I don't want just anyone to be able to view our private, family home videos. Needless to say, many family and friends - particularly those who live afar - have missed out on Nate's special milestones because of this.

Not anymore thanks to Motionbox.

Motionbox is a video publishing site that allows you to to upload, edit, store, and share your special video memories, including those that have been captured in high definition. They not only bring you the highest-quality personal video sharing service on the Web but they take privacy concerns seriously by having more advanced permissions settings. And best of all, basic membership is FREE!

The free, basic membership allows 750MB of storage but you can also upgrade to the paid, subscription-based premium service for HD playback and unlimited storage. Motionbox also offers a Professional hosting option for small businesses with commercial content.

The process is simple: shoot your video, upload from your computer or mobile phone, and share via email, Facebook or use the embed code to post onto your blog, social network profile or website. Motionbox is also compatible with the iPhone, so if you're lucky enough to own one, you can share video of your little one wherever you are.

I decided to take the basic membership for a spin and finally get organized. I found the site to be incredibly user-friendly. It walks you through the upload process but you don't even need a tutorial; it's easy and straightforward. The 750MB storage isn't huge but it does allow you to back-up and share your favorites, which is all I really needed. Several of my videos were a little long and there is a 300MB limit to each video you can upload with the basic account. However, they offer a handy dandy "trim" tool so you can cut out the uneventful parts of a video - share only what you want and make it fit. Perfect! You can also rotate your videos, which is fantastic since I had a couple of videos that I had taken in landscape and I had no idea how to modify them to make them work on other sites.

I uploaded 8 videos to my account, totalling 500MB. I have to say I was a little disappointed that it took about 2 hours to complete the upload. It could be that the server or network was unusually slow that day but I expected it to be faster. However, once the upload was complete, I was very happy with the quality of the playback. The sound was nice and crisp and the video quality was as clear as it had been on my camcorder. I was able to email a video of Nate to my mom in under a minute.

What I really love about Motionbox is the three privacy settings: public, protected or private. You can have your videos visible to anyone, just contacts you choose, or only to yourself. I was able to adjust the video settings individually. I could keep our breastfeeding videos private, while leaving the others as protected, so I don't have to worry about broadcasting our home movies to Joe Blow and the rest of the world. Only family members and friends who I invite can view them.

I also love the flipbook feature. You can select any 15-second clip from your videos and have it made into a custom flipbook for $7.99 + S&H. What a cute keepsake! This would be an adorable stocking stuffer for the holidays.

You can also have your videos turned into a 60-minute DVD you can watch on your television (ARV $19.99). This is a great back-up option so if your computer happens to crash, you're not without your family memories. It would also be a fun display during your child's birthday party so you can share all of that year's precious moments and milestones.

I would love to see Motionbox offer a sound option, so you could add background music to your videos. Perhaps that is something they will consider for the future.

Bottom line: Although the upload speed seemed slow for me, I would still recommend trying Motionbox as a secure way to store and share your personal videos.

BUY IT: Basic membership is free but if you want the HD playback capability, no annoying advertising and unlimited uploads, you can purchase the premium membership for a limited time at a $10 discount for $39.99/year.

Disclaimer: I was contacted by Lowell at Motionbox to provide a review of the free, basic service. I was not compensated in any way for this post. The opinions expressed are purely my own. You may have a different experience when using this service.


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