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 :).