Telestream Switch 2 is the new version of the screening, quality control and desktop conversion player. It’s a major upgrade with must-have features and improvements. Video editors will love the new timeline with its capability to view a clip’s GOP structure. Switch 2 also enables you to view VANC (Vertical Ancillary) data on an external monitor, jump to any point in your video, play clips better and decode WMV files.
Switch Pro, which is the version I’m reviewing, is a great tool for screening video and for limited conversion between formats on the Mac. The first version was a bit limited in terms of features, but a number of updates made this app powerful enough to have it on call at all times (by setting all video files to open Switch instead of QuickTime player).
Now, Telestream has released version 2 and Switch has become the fastest loading video player that uniquely shows (and edits some) important information on supported video files. To start with the most common new feature in my opinion: Telestream Switch 2 enables you to jump to any point in your video. This is the only feature of which I think it should have been available in the first version.
Switch 2 lets you decode and view WMV files on a Mac. Support for WMV decoding is great if you deal with Microsoft’s video format a lot, but you will need Switch Plus or Pro. If you have Flip4Mac on your system, then Switch Player will also be able to decode these files. Personally, I don’t see the need to encode video to WMV, especially not if we’re discussing professional formats. ProRes, yes. WMV, not really, because there are some problems with Digital Rights Management (DRM) to put it mildly (See: “Wikipedia: Windows Media Video”). Still, it’s good to have the ability to play and check WMV files on a Mac without the need to install third party players that don’t work too well on an OS X “El Capitan” machine.
Upgrading to Switch 2 becomes really interesting if you’re a broadcast user. The ability to view VANC data on multiple external monitors — think of captions, for example — is unique, given the low price of the app (See Also: “Using VANC insertion with FlipFactory”). Switch currently supports the following external preview devices: AJA T-TAP, AJA ioXT, AJA io4K, AJA Kona 3G, AJA Kona 4. Other AJA devices may work as well.
Better performance for playing back MXF files enables you to access files quicker and speed up quality control and screening of these files.
The really juicy new feature that you’ll definitely want to upgrade to Switch 2 for, though, is the new ability to view GOP structures and datarate. This has been cleverly implemented and as far as I know, is another unique feature only Switch 2 has. The GOP structure — available from the View > Timeline menu — shows as a row of bars right above the playhead. It displays the I, P and B frames of compressed video, giving you an immediate overview of a video’s overall quality.
In addition, with the press of a single button (a switch, actually), you can view the video’s data rate as a graph running along the timeline. So, with Switch 2 you not only can see how bad the quality of GoPro clips actually is, but also how your format conversion app performs in terms of datarate for any given codec.
With its newest features, Switch 2 has become the QC and screening app to beat. As far as I know, there’s no other tool on the market that has its features at the same price point. Switch Pro costs approx. €277.40 and that’s money well spent.