Nobody at MacFormat can remember the last time they bought a VHS videotape, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have hours of priceless family footage quietly gathering dust at the back of our cupboards. Pinnacle’s device aims to help transfer such movies to your Mac, and make the process easier and cheaper than it’s ever been.
Transferring video from a VHS player – or other analog source – is easy enough, although as the video input ports on the device are limited to composite and S-Video, you’ll have to invest in an adaptor to hook it up to your video player’s Scart socket.
Once the connections are made, the software asks you for a name for your imported video, asks you roughly how long the video will be – to give you an idea how much space it will take up, plus the option of stopping recording after the time has elapsed – and checks that the video and audio are being piped through.
Picture quality, of course, is determined by how good the tape, player and interconnect cables are – but though we’d have preferred to see the Video Capture encode using H.264 rather than MPEG-4, the imported movies are good. If the input source is larger than 640x480 pixels, however, the Video Capture crops into the video, cookie-cutter style.
This is a major drawback. The standard resolution for PAL input is 720x576, so you could lose a quarter of the area of your video. We’d also have liked an EyeTV-style mini editor to trim our movies, and though it handily punts them straight into iTunes, a native way to burn to DVD would’ve been welcome.
Because the Video Capture is a hardware encoder, very little strain is put on the Mac’s processor during encoding, unlike with the EyeTV Hybrid. The video cropping is a significant issue, however; Miglia’s TVMax+, a Mac mini-styled £128 product that also acts as a TV tuner, won’t crop, though it’s much less pleasant to use.