[Review] Plato Video Joiner

{rw_text}Giveaway of the day for September 8, 2009 is:

Plato Video Joiner

Version reviewed:

v9.48

System Requirements:

Software description as per GOTD:

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • ?????

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Doesn’t give you very much control over output video settings.
  • You must manually type in video size if you want to change it from the default.
  • Developer’s website falsely advertises the features of this product.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”1″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect my overall rating/verdict of the program in which I considered all the features and free alternatives.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tdown]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Update – I just downloaded todays giveaway and it looks GOTD forced the developer to clean up the software. It should be okay to download now. I still give it a thumbs down though for reasons stated below.

Update 2 – Oddly enough the download from the developer’s website is of v9.48 while the version from GOTD is v10.08.01. I didn’t notice aany major changes.

Plato Video Joiner is a software that allows you to join videos together into one video. Please be warned the trial version I downloaded from the developer’s website to evaluate this product comes packed with malware. I sent GOTD an e-mail about it and hopefully they can clean up the giveaway before they release it tonight but because of the time difference between me and them they may not be able to. Please proceed with caution.

When I first went to the developer’s website (dvdtompegx.com) to download the trial version so I can write a review on it, I was noticed WOT has bad ratings for the developer’s website and SiteAdvisor lists it as dangerous. Besides the orange rating WOT did not provide much more detail but as per SiteAdvisor many of the downloads on the developer’s website contain some sort of malware and/or undesired crap. Now when SiteAdvisor speaks, I listen. However as the old saying goes, “trust, but verify”. So I downloaded Plato Video Joiner.

After I finished downloading it, I scanned the installer with Avira. Avira did not detect anything so I double clicked on the installer to install. Immediately Avira brought up a warning telling me of “ADSPY/AdSpy.Gen [adware]“:

2009-09-07_221021

Instinctively I hit ignore the first time around so I had to go back and rerun the installer to grab the above screenshot >.>’. Anyway after denying it access and canceling the install, I googled “RKVerify.exe” and the Google results pretty much condemn it as something you don’t want to have on your computer. After googling “RKVerify.exe”, I ran PlatoVideoJoiner.exe through VirusTotal. Via VirusTotal only NOD32 labeled this software as dangerous. Now in my experience when Avira does not detect malware in a software when I scan the installer and VirusTotal pretty much gives it a green light yet the software still contains malware, this usually means the software itself is not dangerous but rather it contains a malware third party software that you are “given the choice” of installing (this is just my observation, and not fact, so that does not mean the software itself is clean so don’t install Plato Video Cleaner and come knocking at my door if your social security number is stolen the next day). To confirm my suspicion I jumped on my already malware infested desktop and tried to install Plato Video Joiner.

The first thing that happened there was Threatfire raised a red flag (just like Avira):

PlatoVideoJoinerThreatFireWarning

After I told Threatfire to allow this to continue, I proceeded with the installation. Not surprisingly the second installer window was telling you about how Plato Video Joiner comes with “RelevantKnowledge”, a third party software that monitors your computer activity “for research purposes”:

PlatoVideoJoinerAndRelevantKnowledge

Look at how cheeky Plato, the developer of Plato Video Joiner, has done this. The second installer window, usually the one where you must “Accept” or “Decline” the program’s EULA, is asking you to “Accept” or “Decline” the EULA for RelevantKnowledge (the third party malware). If I was not specifically looking for this crap, honestly I would have just clicked “Accept” thinking this was the EULA for Plato Video Joiner (I have done that in the past with other malware third party offers). Furthermore, because of the way it is worded, I think even if you “Decline”, RelevantKnowledge may still be installed on your computer. Pathetic. Sad. Angry Ashraf.

As I just mentioned, since I already have a malware infested desktop (which I keep isolated), I figured I may as well see if Plato Video Joiner is any good as a software (ignoring the fact it tries to infest your computer with malware). So this is what Plato Video Joiner program window looks like:

PlatoVideoJoiner

After giving it an overview and playing around with it, my conclusion is even if Plato Video Joiner did not have malware in it, I would still give it a thumbs down. This is why:

  • Input and output is limited to AVI (.AVI), MPEG (.MPEG/.MPG), Windows Media (.WMV/.WMA/.ASF), QuickTime (.MOV/.QT), and RealPlayer (.RM/RMVB) videos; there is no support for FLV, 3GP, or MP4.
  • The control over output video settings is limited. Not once did I ever see the ability to change the video bitrate.
  • When you add videos to join, the “Video Size” is automatically set. If you want a different video size, you must manually type them it. There is no drop down menu, or anything similar, to allow you to select videos sizes (i.e. so you must have them memorized).
  • Clicking on “Help” does not do anything so not help file.
  • The developer is falsely advertising the features of Plato Video Joiner on their website:

2009-09-07_224345

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

FormatFactory

Trusty old FormatFactory always pull through for us. Amongst all its features, FormatFactory has a “Video Joiner” feature. FormatFactory’s “Video Joiner” is completely superior to Plato Video Joiner in everyway with one exception: you cannot join to MOV or RM. However if you really want MOV or RM, join the videos to something like AVI then use FormatFactory to convert that AVI to MOV or RM.

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}Thumbs down for Plato Video Joiner. It is malware invested and if you happen to get a malware-free version, it is lacking some key features. My recommendation is FormatFactory.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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29 comments

  1. zee

    RelevantKnowledge is not a malicious program. It’s a research software installed with the user’s
    permission. RelevantKnowledge is part of an online market research community with over 2 million
    members worldwide. By participating in periodic surveys, users can receive free select software
    sponsored by RelevantKnowledge. If a user decides to uninstall the program for any reason, they can do
    so through control panel. We provide instruction for uninstalling RelevantKnoweldge in the FAQ section
    of our website: http://www.relevantknowledge.com/faq.aspx. If you have any questions, feel free to
    contact us at https://www.relevantknowledge.com/supportform.aspx

    Thank you,

    Relevant Knowledge Support Team

  2. MikeR

    RonCam: I think the urge to involuntarily regurgitate precedes even the booting up stage but is instead a Pavolvian response to the word ‘Vista’.

    Aaargh. Just said it. Excuse me a moment.

    I can only hope Windows 7 proves to be what this confirmed Windows XP user was expecting from V****, though if that means junking so muany of my cherished XP apps, maybe I won’t change after all (getting Dell, last time around, to actually install XP on the new laptop I ordered was a bit of a struggle; I doubt they’ll be so obliging when Windows 7 is all the rage and the triumph that was V**** is, for reasons unknown, no longer enthused over by massive suppliers like, er, Dell. . .)

    Al: Excellent! Couldn’t agree more!

  3. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @RonCam: To be honest I would have to say after the “Wow!”. I say this because prior to using Win7 I really had no major problems with Vista (besides the fact that using wireless internet on Vista is a pain in the *** if you don’t have the right router) and if anyone asked I would be more than willing to say “Ya get that Vista PC”. I never really understood the hype over why “Vista sucks” because I never had that bad of an experience with it. In fact after using Vista I found it hard to deal with XP because of some missing features such as the built in search box in the start menu (which I hear you can add by downloading third party software). However Win7 just has grown on me in ways that makes Vista look inferior, namely the interface, no problems with wireless internet, and faster boot/shutdown times.

  4. RonCam

    Last Comment:
    @Ashraf: I want to puke every time I am forced to boot Vista, LOL!

    Not so long ago, Mr. Ballmer promised us, whenever we boot Vista, we will say ¨Wow!¨ Now I am trying to figure out, does the urge to ¨puke¨ come before, after, or in the middle of the ¨Wow!¨?

    Mr. Ballmer does not (knowingly) lie, and Ashraf tells only the truth, so it must be one of the above, but which one?

  5. madalpal

    @MikeR:
    Mike & all. You’re right about recognizing that the developers should be commended for trying to struggle with whatever is a ‘foreign’ language to them. I’m totally sensitive to how others must adapt to their situation, as I am interning to become a therapist. On a daily basis, I work with those who were never able to talk or had great difficulties, as in autistic or severely mentally retarded. I also work with others who wrote or spoke just fine, until, for instance, they had a stroke or an accident.

    My point is that the developers should take just a little more time & effort to spell check (this goes for regular English speakers too), & to consult with someone on how their product descriptions look & sound. As many others have commented on, this can reflect—right or wrong—a lack of concern for precision, attention to details, quality control, etc., that could represent their efforts & testing on their products before they reach us. They only get 1-2 paragraphs to do so, therefore it would be in their best interest to give the 1st impressions that may entice or hamper a consumer’s decision to even bother with downloading or trying their products.

    And is evidenced more so lately, some of these developers have put out inferior, bug-ridden, poorly coded, & even Malware-infested software. This can be the result of sloppy work, laziness, or even intentionally bundling their software with usage tracking & reporting of this to 3rd parties who compensate them for doing so, like today’s situation.

    Thanks for your sharing Mike, & everyone, & thanks to this forum.
    Al

  6. J. L.

    @Ashraf: It’s very nice, I went straight from XP. So many new feature within.. makes some of my old programs useless.

    The only problem was that my previously EFS encrypted files became corrupted. I’ve unencrypted them from XP, but then when I try to view them with 7, they are corrupted. Some files work fine, other became strange characters, and they change every time I view them (some become uncorrupted, but then others becomes corrupted again).. Same when viewed with XP. Also there were EFS .tmp files. Had to delete everything. I guess the unencryption failed somehow.
    At least my TrueCrypt volume wasn’t corrupted (where the truly irreplaceable data stays).

    Other than that, and a few incompatable software, it’s great and I’m going to use it as my primary os from now on.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @J. L.: Nice to see you got it working.

    How you liking Windows 7? I have been using it for a couple of weeks now (I think) and I just can’t go back to Vista. I want to puke every time I am forced to boot Vista LOL!

  8. J. L.

    @Ashraf: Sorry for late reply, was busy configuring Windows 7 (not RC, or Beta).
    Seems like I can’t, do you have to be registered?

    Edit:
    Nevermind, found out that it was because I haven’t allowed your site’s cookies with CS Lite.

    Edit2:
    Forgot to mention that using the command prompt (or batch files) doesn’t re-encode the videos, it simply merges them.

  9. MikeR

    Al: like you, I’m sometimes bemused by the developer descriptions appearing on GOTD. (And today’s is by no means the worst example.)

    But I have to temper that bemusement with recognition of the fact that I’m a Brit whose native language happens to be English, and that’s about the biggest stroke of luck I could’ve had because my fluency in foreign languages is, well, hopeless.

    I’d probably be excluded from the world of Internet forums altogether if the ‘global’ language was Chinese, or Italian, or Russian, or Croatian — so though occasionally bemused, I’m actually, and more often than not, struck by the massive amount of time and effort others make who’ve not been born as linguistically lucky as myself.

    (Incidentally, the fact that English is the UK’s mother tongue probably has much to do with the dumbing down of this country: if every school child woke up one day and realised that he / she could never fully enjoy the digital world without being bi-lingual, we’d as like as not see a massive improvement in behavioural and cultural standards over here. And when the Brits go abroad, too. . .)

    So where today’s GOTD is concerned — well: any GOTD offering, really — I actually couldn’t care less if the developer’s grasp of what to them is a foreign language is tenuous.

    What I do care about is integrity and competence, neither of which words spring to mind where today’s developer is concerned, yet both of which are applicable and understandable in any language.

  10. madalpal

    Good day Ashraf & all. Well, it seems that while others here stated it individually, like Steelers6 & MikeR & myself, we all have the same beliefs that GOATD has been slipping somewhat when it comes to a what should be a wide variety of software, pre-tested by their IT & professional techs, & offer a higher quality of malware-free software. Within the past weeks the GOATD has finally entered into the forum a few times–but usually to apologize, or to answer after-the-fact–as in the handling of the August 14, 2009 bundling of Software Informer:

    “GAOTD teams up with Software Informer
    Hello everybody!
    We’re happy to announce GAOTD cooperation with another great company Informer Technologies and it’s project Software Informer in particular. From now on while activating new giveaway you’ll be opted to install Software Informer Client on your PC. It’s up to you whether to give this nifty utility a try or don’t even bother trying.”

    Many did not realize why they were having installation problems, or especially that they had to OPT OUT & uncheck this, rather than if they wanted to OPT IN. Just the other day someone wanted to know about this “thing” that had installed itself. And while it seems that some people are nagging about an occasional misspelling (not referring to Ashraf’s funny QUIK reference), the product descriptions lately have almost ALL seemed like sloppy translations, or child-like sentence structure & downright hilarious descriptions like today:
    “With Plato Video Joiner, you can enjoy the movies more comfortable and freely.” More comfortable??? And FREELY?????
    Or: “Now you don’t need to worry about not watching your favorite movies because of some video files limitations!” Thank God for their software, now I don’t need to worry!!!
    Whatever!
    Al

  11. MikeR

    GOTD could have done itself a huge favour by announcing that the appalling RelevantKnowledge spyware was being flogged by Plato Software Inc and that GOTD had therefore decided to cancel today’s offer as well as any further association with that developer.

    But it didn’t.

    Kind of says all there is to say about GOTD nowadays and the way it’s lost the plot.

  12. Steelers6

    Thanks Ashraf,

    Nice catch and great review. What is going on with GOTD, we have had so many bad software offerings these last couple of months? I’m perplexed and even the software being offered is almost always some sort of video or audio converter.

    I used to find a nice mixture of offerings to test but lately it has been anything but. Well, I still welcome the opportunities from GOTD, I have to question what in the world is going on with all of this bad software and same ol’ software.

    Hope they aren’t in some sort of tailspin.

    Thanks again for another Great Review, keep it up it is much appreciated.

  13. madalpal

    Good day Ashraf & all. Oh boy, another GAOTD offering of : drum roll please…..video/audio/converters/joiners/…….. And yet another Ashraf: ” My recommendation is FormatFactory.” Seems like GOATD ought to just check with Ashraf FIRST to see if an offering can beat FF in any meaningful & functional way. Otherwise, they should try another category (other than what lately has been optimizers/tweakers/defraggers/…..)

    I also agree with Ozzie: “GOTD aren’t doing themselves any favours lately, are they?” Again, IMHO, it’s often the free alternatives that equal or hammer the GOATDs (but I still appreciate & respect GOATD for giving us opportunities to try software). For me, I have only kept a few GOATD offerings in the last 5 months, but have kept several alternatives (which can ALWAYS be updated)—which I would never had known about if it weren’t for Ashraf & several others who consistently give us substitutions & options.

    I love it when some commenters say “Just download the product & shut up about it if you haven’t tested it, this forum is not about all these other things—if I were the developer I’d not want to be bashed by all of you…..” They fail to take into account all the problems & trashed & crashed computers of those who downloaded 1st, & then later read about what others could have told them about their experiences & how to work around known problems, or to NOT install it altogether.

    Thanks for this “alternative” forum on dotTech, it is (almost) always more friendly & civil! Al

  14. MikeR

    Sincere thanks to Ashraf for his hard work here — and no thanks at all to GOTD for continuing to associate with an outfit whose business practices are already pretty well known on the Web:

    http://download.cnet.com/Plato-Video-to-3GP-Converter/3000-2194_4-10993946.html

    My hackles always rise when a software company adopts the name of another of greater provenance because such adoption can surely not be accidental. Thus the long-established, highly reputable US software company Plato Inc. . . and GOTD’s partner today, Plato Software Inc.

    Ashraf’s discovery of the cyncially misleading EULA is all too obviously part and parcel of this outfit’s ethos, because far from being this —

    Plato Software Inc was founded in 2003, is a well-known professional development firm dedicated to digital video and DVD software developing (http://www.dvdtompegx.com/html/aboutus.html)

    — it’s so “well-known” that it hides all details of ownership / location of operations behind contactprivacy.com.

    However, an indication of the actual calibre of this well-known professional development firm can be found from this link to its own website:

    http://www.dvdtompegx.com/html/faqs.html

    Yup. Very impressive.

    The outfit’s association with the loathsome RelevantKnowledge spyware is also par for the course, seeing as how RelevantKnowledge is the creation of the desperately-seeking-respectability comScore, whose performance as a ‘global leader’ can be viewed here:

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:SCOR&fstype=ii

    comScore Inc declares:

    From emerging markets to converging media, comScore is the one global source of digital market intelligence that truly measures the digital world. Clients turn to comScore for objective, accurate and reliable insights into consumers’ online behavior and for details into their demographic characteristics, attitudes, lifestyles and offline activities.

    But in fact, its ethics have long been under the microscope:

    http://www.benedelman.org/news/062907-1.html

    And just how keen this £multi-million Virginia, US, based corporation is to talk about its RelevantKnowledge spyware may be gathered from here:

    http://www.comscore.com/content/search?SearchText=RelevantKnowledge&searchSubmit=Search

    So thanks to Ashraf’s work today, and GOTD’s ludicrous decision to associate yet again with Plato Software Inc, another nauseating insight has emerged into the sleaze-ridden world of information gathering — and the desperate measures so often resorted to by its practitioners.

    Into which category, of course, falls the comScore/ RelevantKnowledge ‘partnership’ with the hitherto sensible Trees for The Future organisation, but which here is allowing its name and reputation to add respectability to something that by no stretch of the imagination is in any way respectable.

    (Though that association does at least help in prompting the thought that anyone would have to be as thick as a plank to go anywhere near the products from Plato Software Inc.)

    I haven’t attempted to post this comment on GOTD because I’ve not the slightest doubt it would never appear.

    But as Ozzie said earlier, GOTD aren’t doing themselves any favours — not only is Ashraf’s review today the most harsh I’ve ever known him pen (and for an individual of such generosity of spirit, his verdict is all the more stark) it’s a helluva indictment of the way GOTD is operating.

    GOTD’s increasing rag-bag of catchpenny software titles is now consistently failing to compare with the software opportunity alerts from dot tech, raymond, and tech quest.

    In fact: were it not for Ashraf’s kindness in reviewing GOTD offerings, I wouldn’t even know what GOTD was doing, as with a quick click of the tabs in my Links bar it’s as easy to range over the daily updates from the three review sites mentioned above as it is to ever contemplate anything ever again from GOTD.

  15. J. L.

    You can use the Command Prompt for join MPEG and FLV files (no quotation marks).
    “copy /b *.mpg FullMovie.mpg” or “copy /b Path:\FirstClip.mpg + Path:\SecondClip.mpg Path:\FullMovie.mpg”
    “copy /b *.flv FullMovie.flv” or “copy /b Path:\FirstClip.flv + Path:\SecondClip.flv Path:\FullMovie.flv”

    The first one can be saved as a bath file. The timecode for a joined FLV won’t be right though, it’ll show the length of the first file, then it changes to the next file’s length when playing that portion and onwards.