When I first started my VHS capture project a few weeks ago before having visited this site, I picked up a Pinnacle MovieBox Plus 510-USB capture device. The USB interface was appealing to me as my most modern computer is a laptop and as I was hoping to use my laptop and a family member's VCR for making the captures while on vacation away from home.
Now that I have been using it for a few weeks, I thought I would share my experience so that others can make appropriate purchase decisions.
- When viewing streaming video from the device, sometimes the video freezes. I haven't quite isolated the cause of this but I have noted two seemingly contributing factors. First, the device experiences this problem if it momentarily loses sync with the video source. This is especially problematic with VHS tapes made from a camcorder since there are usually sync issues between scene cuts. Second, the device seems to freeze more often when the preview mode is enabled.
- When trying to use the device with VirtualDub, within a second or two of starting capture my computer blue screens! The particular error is a memory partity error. While this could be a problem my the computer, I am very sceptical as I have never seen any other indications of memory problems and I wouldn't expect the impact of a memory problem to be deterministic. For reference, I am running Windows Vista Ultimate. I suspect this is likely a bug with the drivers. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that Pinnacle has released new drivers since 2007.
- When trying to use the device with iuVCR, if I change the capture resolution it always reverts back to 352x240. I can't say with certainty this is due to the hardware or drivers, but this seems like a pretty major bug in the application if it isn't. Oddly, the application shows multiple resolution choices but chosing any other one just doesn't stick.
The net of all of this is that I have made some successful captures, but I have been unable to do so with the full control I was hoping. In particular, I haven't found a usable combination of software that will let me capture at full resolution and encode the video stream with the Huffyuv or Lagarith codecs.
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By the way, does anyone have a recommendation for an alternative external capture device (USB or otherwise) that supports S-Video capture and lossless encoding?
fyi even though usb is supposed to be able to handle multiple connections at one time it is best to just do the capture and not have anything else connected via usb at the same time (sans a mouse/keyboard maybe as that can't take up to much bandwidth).
Also the same for applications. Even with standard definition and a modern pc its probably best to have the fewest absolutely necessary programs running while capturing. Probably best to kill everything except an antivirus program so that resources are dedicated to capturing.
Hauppauge makes its own usb devices also for capturing. Pinnacle makes other usb models as well besides the studio box model line.Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
Yoda313 is right on target - I have a 510-USB that I picked up because I have acquired a small form-factor machine with a 3.2Ghz cpu in it. No firewire, no expansion slots, just a strong processor, good memory, and a slew of USB ports. I had the choppy video problem, like you describe. What I have found is that as companies cram more USB controllers into their machines, they eat up IRQs like popcorn. You MUST connect the 510 to a controller that has nothing else on it, or you get dropped frames or worse. In my case, the 510 was on a USB controller that was tied to the IRQ of the Network interface. Moving it to another USB controller fixed the problem.
USB was designed to support large amounts of low-bandwidth peripherals, such as mice, keyboards, digi-pads, etc. Although USB claims 480mbps, it is high-latency and CPU-dependent (no direct memory access). Throw in enough traffic, and your video starts getting choppy. If you don't have a strong CPU, it won't be able to handle video input while running the Pinnacle software.
If you're going to do video transfer, and don't want to hunt down open USB controllers on your system, I'd recommend picking up a firewire card and a video-to-firewire device, such as the Canopus advc55 or (if you prefer Pinnacle) the Studio Moviebox DV, which is firewire-based. Firewire devices are peer-to-peer based, meaning they carry their own processors onboard and do not require the CPU's attention. These will set you back about $150 (due to the more complex technology), but you generally get better results from firewire and the expansion card would also allow you to direct-connect DV videocameras and pull video directly from them or export back to them.
Having a laptop with a single hard drive isn't very optimum either. Like others have said, have your running programs at an absolute minumum. Don't want contention for that i/o. You should also make sure your drive has plenty of free space and has gone through a good defrag before you start. You want as much contiguous space as possible.Have a good one,
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