Customer Review

Reviewed in Canada on July 26, 2021
This was a solution to a problem many people have regarding old camcorder tapes you want to transfer to a digital format. In my case, I had 20 year old mini DV tapes that I wanted to put on hard disk storage so I would be able to edit them into home movies. This worked easily out of the box - just plugged it in and it worked without any extra drivers.

One disadvantage I noticed was the format of the video. I used VirtualDub2 (not VirtualDub) to capture and render (process) the tapes to my external hard disk drive. WinDV did not work because it was not
a mini DV connection (i.e. through FireWire 400 or IEEE 1394a) but a more generic AV input (i.e. analog) connection. WinDV looks for a mini DV connection I think. When capturing with this device, the aspect ration was not quite correct and everything looked a bit flattened out. In other words, people looked a bit shorter and stouter.

I used VLC to view the videos that were captured and I could change the aspect ratio to 5:4 but this now made people look slightly taller than normal. I could live with this as long as I had the video in digital format and I could edit them later.

20 years ago you needed some beefy hardware to be able to render the video to something useful. From what I recall, the rendering took something like 5 minutes for every one minute of footage on a Pentium 4 processor. Now that I have an Intel i7 CPU, I could do real time h265 rendering of the video as it is being captured and save it to an AVI container on my external hard disk drive! I was able to capture all my tapes to files at an average of 1 GB per hour of footage in h265 video compression and 16-bit, 48 KHz stereo audio.

For other types of camcorder footage such as Hi8, I have read that there are no issues.

I have since decided to buy a FireWire 400/800 expansion card for under $20 and try it on my desktop. It worked great because mini DV is already in a digital format on the tape and the transfer used very little CPU cycles in the capture. You can think of it as something like restoring data from a tape backup device to your computer. The files were much bigger (12-13 GB per hour of footage) but they played back in the correct aspect ratio and the audio was perfect in PCM format. These captures are identical to the original and I will be able to back them up to two other sets of hard disks as redundant backups that I can have for many, many years to come.

I do recommend this product because it served a purpose that I had at one point in time and it was relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Also, thanks to Amazon for carrying products like this that would have been fairly difficult for me to obtain, especially during the pandemic.
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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
2,737 global ratings