Pinnacle Video Transfer
PC-free H.264 video encoding
Review Gadgets now capable of playing video have left owners are hungry for content. Folk with large VHS tape collections want to digitise them, just like vinyl. Two problems, one solution, says Avid offshoot Pinnacle: its Video Transfer standalone H.264 encoder.
Pinnacle's Video Transfer: one-touch, PC-less H.264 encoding
The Video Transfer is a handsome black unit that's a bit bigger than an iPod Touch and about as twice as thick. At one end are the inputs: stereo audio and composite-video RCA jacks - white, red and yellow - and an s-video port. Pinnacle includes a composite cable, but you'll need buy an s-video lead separately. The box also includes a Scart-to-composite adaptor.
The other end of the Video Transfer is home to the power connector - it's driven by a small AC adaptor - and a pair of USB 2.0 ports, though one is "reserved for future expansion" and doesn't work.
The working USB port is ready for connection to any storage device with a suitable adaptor: a hard drive, a Flash key even an iPod or PSP connected through an appropriate cable and formatted to the FAT32 file system. The Video Transfer is smart enough to know what it's connected to and configure its settings depending on whether you've selected Good, Better or Best for the video quality.
The top of the Video Transfer sports a silver circle that's a two-way switch. Press the top to start and stop recording. Push the bottom to set the recording mode. Each category of device - iPod, PSP or generic storage unit - has three different versions of the Good, Better and Best pre-sets, selected by pressing the Mode button once, twice or three times in a row. A set of three blue LEDs below the Mode button indicate which one you've selected.
I think I'll wait for the hauppauge hd pvr thanks
Not terribly inspiring really the HD PVR wiill do all this AND compress 1080i for $250 (OK it sends H264 down USB to a computer) but that's what I'm waiting for.
Not a good review
Of course 640x480 will give you problems. It needs to be scaled and who in their right minds would want to scale video to such odd resolutions.
The review misses some _very_ important points. How does the device react to slightly off standard video? This is, in fact the most important point as every video stream is slightly off standard.
Many solutions have the problem of not getting video and audio in sync if the framerate is not precisely 25fps. Others have problems with dropouts.
Re: "VHS" and "Judgement's reserved"
Did you try to convert the captured video to MPEG2, burning it on a DVD and watching it on a TV? That's what I was planning on using it, archiving 15-year-old home videos to a digital format. I doubt that even the device's compression and the subsequent recompression to MPEG2 significantly degrades the quality when compard to the VHS original.
And I agree with Vladimir Plouzhnikov about the interlacing. Capture the video faithfully as interlaced and deinterlace it afterwards, if you want progressive video.
For £80, I am tempted. I doubt we will see a RGB input version, as I would definately pick one of those puppies up, I need something to "suck" stuff out my rapidly filling SkyHD box at hald decent quality, so I can stick it onto DVD.
I did try it with VHS, but the results were no better than those achieved with other sources: interlacing artefacts on videotape material, heavy compression effects etc. Again, though, it's watchable when scaled down on a portable device.
However, it did reliably reproduce all the tape drop-outs. :-)