Is there any advantage to buying a PCI/PCI-E capture card instead of a USB capture device? Does USB connection limit the capture size/quality in some way?
I'm considering buying a capture device to transfer a couple of Video8 and Hi8 tapes to my computer using S-Video.
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There are some very nice USB capture devices out now. I have this one and it works VERY well, but the software that comes with it sort of sucks:
In the past USB devices were pretty crappy so I never bought anything but a PCI or PCI-e based one. Note that hech54's device is fine for DVD captures and that may be exactly what you want. It can't do HD though. You get what you pay for. A device that can do HD would cost more. I like Hauppauge's devices and have been using them for several years. I'm using the Colossus now, which may be more than you really need.
Or get a dvd recorder that has s-video.
easycap on Amazon is like $8.00
Small USB-stick type devices use software for encoding, which allows making losslessly compressed captures and corrective processing. Hardware MPEG-2 encoding, which is done during capture, saves time and doesn't require much CPU power, but is less desirable for those who want to do corrective processing on their captures. Most SD capture devices that do MPEG-2 hardware encoding are either larger USB devices, or they have PCI or PCI-e interfaces. A few external SD capture devices use DV encoding and have a firewire interface.
With SD capture devices, you may want to use a TBC of some sort, but you usually don't have to just to keep the capture going. However, some of the HD capture devices don't work well for analog tape capture without TBC. They are too intolerant of dropouts and erratic signals. All the HD capture devices that I have seen which do hardware encoding don't use MPEG-2. They all use H.264 for hardware encoding. HD capture devices that use software encoding have a PCI-e interface because uncompressed HD video needs too much bandwidth for USB 2.0.
I think Hech54 made a good suggestion for analog tape capture. I have seen clips of some of his VHS captures made with a Hauppauge USB Live2, and they looked good.
To be blunt, the super-cheap EasyCaps are rubbish.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 28th Jul 2012 at 14:50.
I remember that if one was serious about capture, they would get an internal card, and those USB sticks were basically a backup for a laptop. That's all changed now. USB (but not 1.1) sticks are among the serious choices now.
And I agree with usually_quiet. The "larger" USB sticks, particularly those that have hardware encoding under the hood, will indeed save resources, but they tend to be of lower quality, especially with lossy formats. In fact, personally I think they're over-rated - some tend to soften the video too much. Similarly for internal cards.
I particularly like to use a USB stick that uses PC resources, that is 4:2:2 compliant, and can be used with WDM drivers and can capture with, say VirtualDub and HuffYUV. If I want MPEG-2, then I use a good MPEG-2 encoder afterwards. This extra step in my eyes is worth the extra quality.
Having said that, I'm using an ATI 600 USB and think it's the best. Unfortunately, since it's a discontinued product, I'm looking for backups in case it one day tanks. I like hech54's suggestion, but are there other good USB sticks today that can properly capture to lossless formats today, such as using YUY2? The puplic specs posted are rather hazy at best.I hate VHS. I always did.