Pinnacle PCTV PRO

Hi to everybody,

I originate from the Italian forum that by now has become an equestrian circus and where to make some normal posts, is not more possible.

I am very disgusted…

I wanted to know if someone of you uses the Pinnacle PCTV PRO and what impressions you has had

I would like to convert from vcr in mpeg.
Does The card also work with video very long well?

Thanks & ciao :slight_smile:


You’ll see that people in our English forums are very nice and less flammatory than in the Italian section :wink:

But to your question, I have seen the PCTV Pro in action many times, it produces great quality. Some prefer Hauppage though.

I have not used it myself and cannot judge its quality of capturing video onto your hard disk. But, usually VCR (as well as TV) is limited to a certain resultion that is less than VGA (800x600) I believe, so you will never get better quality than the original streaming.

Having said that, the compression to mpg is all done by software. Certain video capture cards have hardware assistance, but that is not the case with the PCTV Pro.

the PCTV Pro has very user friendly software to configure the card…that is pretty much the last I know about this card…hope it is of help to you

ps stick around in these parts of the forum, you’ll not only learn a lot on the technical field, but it is a great way to brush up your English :wink:

Thx Da_Taxman, :slight_smile:

my English is not very good, but I hopes both comprehensible…

Now, the international section is the only way to still make some posts in this forum that I love particularly
I should go away otherwise, but I don’t want

I have thought about Pinnacle, perhaps because it is more known and easier to be found and the price is small :slight_smile:

Now, thanks to your suggestion I will also appraise better the Hauppage cards

However I would like to know the direct impressions of someone that has tried Pinnacle or Huppage.


I have them both; Pinnacle TV-card and Hauppauge, but haven’t tested the Haupauge yet. I also have a Pinnacle DV500 capture-board, so I can compare with semi-professional capturing as well.
The capture-quality of the PinnaclePCTV is moderate; in low resolution the clips look normal, but in higher resolution you get interlaced video on your PC (ugly horizontal lines). Those can be removed with software, but that’s pretty time-consuming.
Keep in mind you’ll need a fast harddrive too, that’s capable of a CONSTANT transfer-rate of about 5MB/sec. This seems easy, cause most IDE Harddrives are ATA100. But when writing long files at that constant speed, some drives have difficulties with correct placing of the write-head, resulting in drop of frames. However, a 7200rpm disc that’s defragmented should be fast enough.

In short: TV-cards with VCR-input perform pretty good for low budget. The capture quality is off course not as good as a DV500 provides, but the DV500 costs about as much as a complete PC :wink:
I don’t think there are really that many differences in quality between Hauppauge and Pinnacle. So I think you should base your choice on the software-updates and features that are provided by both manufacturers.

Also check out the FAQ-section on both sites; they probably deal with known hardware issues, like incompatibility with certain mainboards. This could save you lots of frustration and can help you decide :wink:

thanks because you have given me a lot of information of experience that I looked for. :slight_smile:

I don’t believe to have problems with the speed of my hd that is an ATA 133 to 7200 rpm.
I was worried, because I want to convert vhs with music stereo concerts and Disney’s cartoon (Duck Tales and other).

Unfortunately the vhs with the time deteriorate him, and I don’t want to lose them.

Indeed I believe, that the Pinnacle DV500 is too much an expensive card to make these things…

However when you will try the DV500, make to know me what you think of it.

Ciao & thx :wink:

I already used the DV500 and the Pinnacle PCTV; it’s the Hauppauge that I haven’t tested yet :slight_smile:
The DV500’s quality is excellent; capturing 720x576 @ 25fps gives nice looking clips without interlacing.

If I find some time this weekend, I’ll give the Hauppauge a try as well. But I can’t guarantee it, cause don’t have much time at the moment :frowning:

Originally posted by Wannes
[B]I already used the DV500 and the Pinnacle PCTV; it’s the Hauppauge that I haven’t tested yet :slight_smile:
The DV500’s quality is excellent; capturing 720x576 @ 25fps gives nice looking clips without interlacing.

If I find some time this weekend, I’ll give the Hauppauge a try as well. But I can’t guarantee it, cause don’t have much time at the moment :frowning: [/B]

I tried a Hauppage WintTV PVR 250 a couple of months ago and returned if for a refund within a week. The video quality was pretty good and I didn’t have any dropped frame problems even writing to a 5400RPM 80 gig DMA100 Maxtor drive, but the PVR card does audio capture too instead of letting the sound card do it, and I found the sound to be a bit muffled. For now, I’m back to a 16MB PCI ATI All In Wonder 128 Pro (ultra, with the Rage Theatre chip) card which works well except for its two highest resolutions where frame drop makes it unusable (I’m guessing this is because of the PCI bus, and hoping that getting an AGP version would resolve the problem…any comments?)

It’s also possible that I just had a bad Hauppage card, but with the limited time I had available, I didn’t have time to try another one. (This was an NTSC version, but I doubt that the tuner standard would have any bearing on the audio circuitry, and I believe that all versions are capable of NTSC/PAL/SECAM capture from a non-tuner source)

I actually have the Pinnacle PCTV which is the stripped down version of the Pro. The only difference I could see from the Pro to the standard version was the Pro had the radio built into it. Seeing how I do not listen to the radio I did not bother with it. It also saved me an additioal $100.00 AUS on the price :)…

Anyway I am very happy with buying this card and I have captured many of my VHS tapes to SVCD and I am really impressed with the output of the quality! I also found setting up the card was the easiest card I have ever setup. The software that it came with as well to capture with was excellent I thought. As it captured my video tapes in one go and then it converted the movie to SVCD and then burned it to a CD for me.

Once the movie was burnt to CD I played it through Power DVD with no problems at all and then I tried it on our home DVD player which is the Pionner 535 and it worked perfectly. I was very impressed with the quality that was displayed on the TV through the Pionner player.

Also when I captured in SVCD mode and burnt these to CD-RW cd’s first to make sure everything was right. I found for a 90 min movie it would use 3 x 80 min CD’s. Of course if you was to only capture in VCD format I would guess that you would only use 2 80 Min CD’s.

Here is a screen shot from the settings menu of the software that came with the card as well for you.

I have personally used other capture cards in the past such as the Iomega Buzz, Pinnacle VCD Studio and another TV capture card. I have also spent alot of money on encoders and capturing software. But I would have to say that the Pinnacle PCTV is the best capture card I have ever used. It is so easy to setup and so easy to capture with and best of all you do not need to go and purchase any capturing, encoding or burning software etc. As it does the whole lot for you in one hit!

Also when I first used the capture card to capture a movie with I thought I would have to stop the movie half way through so I could fit it onto a CD. But I later learned that the capturing program automatically splits the movie up for you depending on which size CD’s you use! So I was very impressed by this feature as well. As normally in the past I would have to split the movie myself and this was very time consuming! But with the software that comes with this capture card it basically does everything for you from start to finish!

For example. I load a normal 90 min VHS tape into my VCR. I then play the movie and capture it. Once 90 mins or close to 90 mins passes. I then come back to the computer and once I see the movie has ended I stop recording. I then go away for around another 15 - 25 mins while it encodes the movie for me. Once this is done. I then go to the control panel select the movie and then select which format I would like to burn the movie to CD with. Approximate total time to capture a VHS movie and burn it to CD in SVCD mode is around 2 and half to 3 hours!

Gone are the days and nights of me capturing a movie and then editing it in Virtual Dub then using an encoding program such as Panasonic Encoder to encode the movie to mpg format over night!

Anyway this is my experience with the Pinnacle PCTV card and I am very happy with it and would highly recommend it to anyone who does not want to spend a pile of money on a capture card.

Also when time permits I plan on capturing in SVCD mode and then selecting VCD mode as the output to CD. Just to see if this makes any difference in the quality of a VCD. As in the past when I have used other capture cards and been limited to VCD. I have found that the actual output on the TV has been very blocky and not really suitable. But since playing around with SVCD. I find this is much better and the output quality is the same if not better than VHS tape. With the added bonus of the CD never loosing quality each time it is played unlike video tapes.

Also if you like I can capture part of a movie for you with the card and upload it to my server and send you the URL so you can see the output quality of it. Just let me know if you would like VCD or SVCD.

Oh one last thing to remember. No matter how much money you spend on a capture card and no matter how good it is. The final result always depends on the actual quality of the tape that is being captured from. So in other words garbage in and garbage out! I learnt this the hard way a long time ago :).


My computer specs.

Athlon 1.4C CPU
GigaByte GA-7VAXP Mother Board KT400 Chipset
512MB (2100) DDR Memory
IBM 60 Gig 7200 RPM Hard Drive
GeForce 4 MX460 Video Card
LG GCE-8480B CD-RW Burner
LG DRD-8160B DVD Drive
Pinnacle PCTV Capture Card
Plus a whole pile of other junk installed and connected to it. Well not junk but has no bearing on capturing movies.

Also using a mono old as the hills TEAC VCR to play the movies through the capture card. As I cannot afford to by a Stereo VCR at the moment :).

@Venerdi. I’ve got a PCTV pro, & bearing in mind it’s not going to create DVD like quality for your VHS tapes, it does a good job. Bear in mind though, that a lot users find that Pinnacle’s own software is quite poor & prefer using 3rd party capture software, conversion,& burning,(eg: VirtualDub, TmpGenc, & Nero or VCD Easy), & for 98SE,Win@2K,XP users there’s even 3rd party generic drivers which some regard as better than Pinnacle’s version 5.x drivers. (Though their latest retail 5.1 drivers are apparently okay, though you must buy them separately.)

If you want some more information try this site…

It’ll have reviews of those cards,& a lot of prgrams to try too,along with advice.

Hi all :slight_smile:

I still thank all for the precious information :slight_smile:

CybaGirl (Erica) it is what you say on the differences of price between PCTV and PCTV Pro.
However, my problem is that my VHS are stereo hifi and the PCTV it is mono.
Only the PCTV Pro acquires with stereo audio
In every case, your information have been very important for me.
A thanks from the other side of the world :wink:


This weekend, I found some time to test the Hauppauge. The results came close to what I expected; similar to the Pinnacle PCTV. The clips look more blury when compared to the DV500 and capturing at a higher resolution is a mess. (enormous files; 350MB for 1,5 minutes @720x576 and not clear at all).
BTW, capturing @720x576 with the Hauppauge puts a real stress on my HD’s. On 10.000rpm SCSI discs, it wasn’t a big deal, but when I tried to capture on one of my IDE 7200rpm’s, massive frame drops where kicking in…

However, in lower resolution, you can get some nice clips with the Hauppauge. I advice you to check out Cyberlink’s PowerVCR as well. It’s a really nice tool to schedule your TV-card for timed recordings of certain programs on a specified channel. You can choose between various profiles; capturing from cable/antenna directly to mpeg1, mpeg2, VCD or DVD quality. (although true DVD-quality can’t be achieved at all :wink: it’s just the way files are stored on your HD).
Capturing to compressed files needs a fast CPU off course, but I think most common systems are able to nowadays.

Hauppauge tested with:

*P4 2,667Ghz on a Gigabyte GA-8IHXP mainboard (850e chipset; 533FSB )
*Adaptec 29160 SCSI adapter with 10k rpm discs.
*3 x 7200rpm ATA100 discs
*Windows2000 Pro
*Capturing with bundled software (Vidcap32) and PowerVCRII.