Capture card recommendation wanted

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by Nick, Jul 14, 2003.

  1. Nick

    Nick Guest

    Here's the deal:

    I've got an ATI AIW card that I've been using to transfer some VHS to DVD in
    the following manner:

    1. Capture using DivX codec
    2. Edit using Virtuadub and frame serve to ...
    3. ... TMPGemc for encoding to MPEG2
    4. Author DVD using Spruce Up

    The results are good enough for me.

    However, my ATI appears to be on the blink - unsteady frame - horizontal
    bars appear - like really bad tracking problem. At first thought it was
    dirty heads & bad tape, but hooked VHS output up to TV and it's fine. Tried
    using the Phone connection instead of coax. No joy. So....

    .... I'm considering some new hardware. When I bought the ATI I liked the
    "all-in-one" idea. It seemed practical. However, I think it was a mistake.
    I'd like to split my capture card from my video adapter card. That way I
    don't have to worry about both functions when I upgrade motherboard/AGP

    Another thing I thought was good about the AIW was that it did hardware
    MPEG2 encoding. Again it's occurred to me that I'm not even using it because
    I didn't the results were very good. So, as I'm looking at the budget end of
    the market (hence low quality MPEG2 encoding), I reckon I'd be better of
    buying a plain old PCI capture card with no hardware compression and saving
    myself a bit of money. I'll keep the AIW but just use it as a display
    adapter until I feel like a new graphics card. Am I wrong? Is good hardware
    MPEG2 encoding available for around £100?

    I'm looking at the Pinnacle range of products. The "PC-TV Rave" is the basic

    The "PC-TV" claims to additionally have MPEG1 & 2 "software" compression
    (can it really be *software* compression - TMPGEnc takes *ages* to compress
    MPEG2 - the Pinnacle spec says "real-time).

    The "PC-TV Pro" seems to have a few more features (radio) & more bundled
    software (VCR, Studio 7), none of which really matter to me.

    I'm thinking of going for the "PC-TV". Can anyone offer any experiences of
    this card?

    Then again ... I've just noticed the "Linx USB" cable product. If all I want
    is to get my video onto my PC (and worry about encoding later), wouldn't his
    do the trick? It has the advantage of being easily moved from one PC to
    another. Anyone used one of these?


    Cheers, Nick.
    Nick, Jul 14, 2003
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  2. Nick

    FLY135 Guest

    TV's will show a great picture from the VCR when other devices like your
    capture card won't. So I would try using a different VCR and tape or plug a
    camera into the AIW. Or even better use the VCR as a tuner and see how the
    picture looks. It may be the VCR that is still the problem.
    I use the Pinnacle PCTV and it's a nice card. However the bundled software
    is problematic. It may or may not work well on your system. However
    Showshifter and PowerVCR II are rock solid with that card. The downside is
    that they are $50. However there are free capture apps that work but don't
    support the tuner. Video in only.

    If you are looking for best quality, you may want to drop the Divx and go
    with MJPEG, HuffYUV, or DV compression instead.
    FLY135, Jul 14, 2003
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  3. Nick

    Nick Guest

    Thanks for both the replies. I've never had problems with the process I'm
    using, but I'll look into the merits of the codecs you mention. Do you know
    what kind of compression ratio each codec can produce (DivX is usually
    around 30:1 on my system)? I have reasonable, but not masses, of free disk

    Given that I don't want to shell out enough to buy a card with a *good*
    hardware MPEG2 encoder (which as you say might not be advisable anyway from
    an editing POV), I'm going to go for a basic Pinnacle or Hauppage tuner.
    Just can't decide on USB or PCI. I just can't help feeling that USB2 won't
    be quick enough to get the data onto disk quickly enough without dropping
    frames, but maybe I'm wrong ... I think I'm talking myself into a PCI card.

    Anyway thanks for the input.
    Cheers, Nick.
    Nick, Jul 16, 2003
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