Capture hardware, what to buy?



My “inlaws” are gettig a new PC. They want this PC to be able to record their old 8mm tapes so they can be put on DVD.

Question is: what is the best hardware to buy to do this. As they are on a somewhat limited budget, the capture hardware should not cost more than €100.

I figured that these are the options:

  • VGA card with composite/Svideo in
  • TV card with composite/Svideo in
  • an external (USB) capture device that encodes the input video to MPEG2
  • a real dedicated capture card

Besides that it shouldn’t cost too much, it should be easy to use. That means that they don’t want to hassle with CCE settings etc (and that means that the USB devices are more in favour than the others). Problem is that I have little experience in this field. What do the experts here think about it?

Thanx in advance :slight_smile:


I know this one was said to be good, from Pinnacle Systems :

Studio MovieBox DV version 9
Price: $ 199.99

Studio MovieBox USB version 9
Price: $ 199.99

They’re pretty expensive, I know, but the hardware is good. I don’t like their software thought, something you pay a lot for.


I’ve had that thingy for 2 days… what a piece of crap that was. Although the device didn’t give any troubles, the quality of the MPEG video was horrible. I was very lucky just to borrow it, as I would have taken it back to the shop within a couple of minutes.

And indeed, the software was even beyond horrible.

Thanx for answering though, any input is highly appreciated :slight_smile:


if you’re in the US (not sure):


I’d get a Leadtek WinFast TV2000 XP Expert PCI Capture card, it provides good video quality and isn’t very expensive. Keep in mind though that analogue sources in general doesn’t compress very well due to interference and noise so prepared to do some filtering.


I use a Canopus ADVC100, but it captures to DV encoded .avi, so you’ll have to encode to MPEG2 in another step, but the quality is very good. For best quality you really should encode to MPEG2 in a seperate step rather than on the fly.


Hmm that one sounds interesting, the price is quite alright. I know the compression isn’t too high but they don’t care about that. They find VHS quality perfect so there shouldn’t be any problem.

How is the quality of the capture? Is it possible to capture at full PAL resolution with a modern PC (Athlon 64 3200+, 1Gb and a single 7200rpm 8MB cache HDD)? Or is this to heavy?

That’s what I like about the external capture boxes: no dropped frames, no audio sync problems etc…


How is the quality of the capture? Is it possible to capture at full PAL resolution with a modern PC (Athlon 64 3200+, 1Gb and a single 7200rpm 8MB cache HDD)? Or is this to heavy?

i was capping 768x576@25 on celeron600 system with i815 chipset (cheap bt8x8 card+ picvideo mjpeg)
now i got faster cpu (1.3ghz) not because i needed it for capping, but cpu speed is needed when you got to encoding the stuff to final format.


Okay that’s a good thing to know!



If your folks are like mine then I’d say get the Pinnacle Studio Plus PCI Card Package(little hassle to set up, but am under the assumption that is being done by you), buy showshifter(because the Pinnacle software is the worst, believe me when I say so). Then there are few proggies you will need like :

  1. Bt conexant Installer(freeware, Google for it)
  2. Girder(Remote Control software) Google for it.
  3. Pinnacle remote Plugin for Girder.

Once youve done getting the above five Utilities it is less then an hour(2 Hours for the PC-Uninclined) to set up the whole deal and once all the channels have been tuned and named, then believe me when I say this . Your folks are going to really love you. The whole package above should set you back less than 150$ and once set-up, all they have to do is double-click SS and everything else is like the TV at home.

Hope this helps.