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988 of 1,000 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works great with Windows 7, plus a comparison with competing products
My apologies for this long review. Hopefully, though, it will be useful to someone.

I've spent some time the past 2 weeks comparing competing products for transferring home videos into digital format on my Windows 7 PC for long-term preservation and so that I can edit the videos on my PC. I tried or considered three different products including this Elgato...
Published on April 2, 2012 by Randy Forgaard

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152 of 172 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not include a hardware encoder, drops frames
UPDATED May 18, 2013: I originally wrote this review in October 2009 (over 3.5 years ago), and was reporting on my experiences using it with a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo 15" MacBook Pro, which is much older and slower than the machines most people have today. Others have reported that it works better on more modern hardware (i.e., anything with a Core i5/i7 CPU). I ended up...
Published on October 8, 2009 by Marc Unangst


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988 of 1,000 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Works great with Windows 7, plus a comparison with competing products, April 2, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
My apologies for this long review. Hopefully, though, it will be useful to someone.

I've spent some time the past 2 weeks comparing competing products for transferring home videos into digital format on my Windows 7 PC for long-term preservation and so that I can edit the videos on my PC. I tried or considered three different products including this Elgato Video Capture, and one high-end video transfer company, all on the same Hi8 analog video cassette with a family video that is 15 years old. Along the way, I have gotten some familiarity with the various technologies available today for transferring magnetic tapes into digital form. I found out some interesting things, and thought I would share them, in the hope that it might help others.

First, and you probably already know this, if you have any video memories on magnetic video tape, you want to get them transferred into digital form onto your PC or DVD or Blu-ray as soon as possible, before the video badly deteriorates. This especially includes regular VHS tapes, Video8 tapes, and normal Hi8 tapes, all of which are analog formats and are particularly susceptible to deterioration starting after about 10 years. Somewhat less susceptible to deterioration are Digital8 (which is also recorded on Hi8 tapes) and MiniDV tapes, because those are digital formats. But even for digital tapes, it is still magnetic tape which deteriorates over time, and you need to get those videos off of there. Seriously, at the risk of sounding like a doomsayer, if you have precious memories on magnetic video tape, you need to transfer that video off of those tapes and into digital form as soon as possible, or risk losing them forever. It's not hard to do, and you'll sleep better at night when you get it done!

In my case, I have a bunch of precious Hi8 family video tapes recorded on a high-end Sony consumer camcorder between 10 and 19 years ago, and I am rescuing these Hi8 videos a little on the late side. I wish I had started this project 5 years ago instead. These tapes are still watchable, but they have developed some lines and drop-outs and "hiccups" and digital artifacts. With multiple playback retries, I can fortunately still coax out fairly high quality from these tapes.

A quick note: Digital8 and MiniDV video tape camcorders have USB ports on them for digitally transferring your videos to your PC or Mac. If this is your situation, there is NO need to purchase one of these video transfer products (like Elgato Video Capture). You will get the best quality, by far, by using a USB cable to connect your camcorder to your PC or Mac, playing back your video in the camcorder, and using any of a whole bunch of different inexpensive software products on the market that will allow you to capture video from the USB port on your computer. This way, you are getting the digital video in its original form, which is great. You will get worse quality if you use a video transfer product that captures the video off of the video ports on the camcorder, because the camcorder is converting the digital video into analog, then the video transfer product converts the analog back to digital (not ideal, for sure).

So, for the rest of this review, I will assume you have analog magnetic video tape (like VHS, Video8, or normal Hi8), in which case you need a video transfer product like this Elgato Video Capture or something similar.

A note about video resolution: The analog video tape formats (VHS, Video8, and normal Hi8) all have native video resolutions less than 640x480. All of the video transfer products on the market record the video from these formats at either 640x480 or 720x480. It doesn't really matter which of these two resolutions the product records at. The point is, all of the video transfer products record at higher resolution than the original video, so you are capturing all of the resolution of the original video when you do the video transfer, which is good.

A note about overscan lines at the bottom of captured video: As documented all over the Internet, when capturing digital video from an analog video source like an analog magnetic video tape, you will end up with some additional fuzzy lines at the bottom of the captured video. This is totally normal. When played back on a regular TV, these overscan lines are usually chopped off because they appear "below the bottom of the screen," but the digital capture grabs them. To get rid of those lines, you can crop or zoom in slightly when you do your video editing. Interestingly, this Elgato Video Capture device automatically does a minor zoom on all captured video to remove those fuzzy lines.

A remark about video editing: Two of the products below (Elgato and Hauppauge) produce video files that use H.264 compression. This is an excellent video compression standard for viewing, and is supported by just about all video editing software. However, if you are going to do significant video editing, you may want to use some video conversion software to convert these video files to uncompressed or MJPEG-compressed AVI or MOV files for editing. (There are many inexpensive or perhaps even free software packages that will do this conversion.) The problem with editing H.264 compressed video files directly is that the extreme compression, which crosses video frame boundaries, can cause problems for video editing software, resulting sometimes in digital artifacts or out-of-sync audio in the final edited video output. An uncompressed or MJPEG-compressed AVI or MOV video source file avoids these problems.

A word about using an outside company to make a high-quality transfer of your analog video tape: A search of the Internet reveals many companies that will transfer your video tape into digital form, and send the digital files back to you on a fairly inexpensive USB hard drive that you can supply yourself or that they will sell you. Some of these companies are better than others. A few of these companies are very high-end, using expensive video transfer equipment. I used one of these very high-end video transfer companies, using their most expensive Premium service, to transfer the very same 15-year-old Hi8 tape that I also tried at home with the video transfer products below. I discovered that the transfer done by the outside company was significantly WORSE (lots of lines through the video and tracking problems) than what I was able to do at home with the products below. I don't necessarily think this is the fault of the video transfer company. At home, I was able to use the very same Sony Hi8 camcorder to do the transfer that I originally used to shoot the original video tape. My suspicion is that, especially for older analog video tapes, it helps to use the same camcorder for transfer as you used to shoot the video originally, so that any idiosyncracies in tracking or video head alignment won't be as much of an issue. Just food for thought.

Anyway, as noted above, I have done an experiment over the past 2 weeks, transferring the exact same 15-year-old Hi8 tape to my PC using the high-end video transfer company (above), plus two different video transfer products at home (Elgato and Hauppauge, below), and I also considered a third video transfer product (Blackmagic, below), to compare the pros and cons of each of each approach. Here's what I found out:

Elgato Video Capture (this product): Gets the best reviews on Amazon for a relatively inexpensive product for video transfer on both Windows and Mac. It captures video at 640x480 resolution, which means it grabs the full resolution and more of VHS, Video8, and normal Hi8 tapes. This worked great on my 64-bit Windows 7 computer. I just downloaded the latest driver and software from the Elgato web site, installed them both, and I was ready to go. It's incredibly easy to use. It connects to any USB 2.0 port on your computer. There are really no settings; the software guides you through the very simple process, and it transfers your video to your computer as an MP4 file. In case you are curious, the MP4 file it writes uses H.264 compression at 640x480 resolution and (basically) 29.97 frames/sec (standard NTSC) and a video data rate of between about 1100 kbps and 1500 kbps, depending on the complexity of the particular video you transferred. The audio in the MP4 file is AAC format at 48 kHz 16-bit stereo with an audio data rate of 128 kbps. When capturing a 2-hour video, I ended up with an MP4 file that was 1.5 GB in size. This Elgato product scores big points for ease-of-use. However, the video quality, while quite good, is not as high as the Hauppauge HD PVR (see below), because of the heavy video compression the Elgato uses to make a relatively small MP4 file with fairly low data rates. If you look closely at the captured video from the Elgato product, you will notice some minor squares of slightly distorted color at times, where the video has been over-compressed. Also, as noted above, the Elgato Video Capture automatically does a minor zoom on all captured video to avoid the fuzzy lines at the bottom of the captured video. On the plus side, this saves you the step of doing that zoom yourself in video editing. On the minus side, it is cropping all 4 sides of the video slightly, which might not be what you want.

Hauppauge HD PVR: This product exists in two very similar versions, the Model 1212 and the Model 1445 Gaming Edition, but the functionality of the two models is identical when capturing video from analog video magnetic tape. Although designed for high-def video capture, it's by far the best product I tried for standard-def video capture as well. This product gets excellent reviews on Amazon, and rightfully so. It works out of the box on Windows (including 64-bit Windows 7, which I use), and also supports the Mac with separately downloadable software. The Hauppauge product captures video at 720x480 resolution, which means it grabs the full resolution and more of VHS, Video8, and normal Hi8 tapes. Like the Elgato product, the Hauppague is very easy to use, though the software give you a few recording options, unlike the Elgato. The Hauppauge connects to any USB 2.0 port on your computer. It gives you a choice of recording video in three different formats: .TS, .M2TS, or .MP4. It doesn't matter much, choose whatever format is most convenient for you; most digital video editing applications can handle any of these formats with no problem. In all three cases, the output file uses H.264 compression, is 720x480 resolution, 29.97 frames/sec (standard NTSC) and a user-selectable video rate between 1 Mbit/sec and 13.5 Mbit/sec. I chose 5 Mbit/sec, and ended up with a crystal-clear video capture with a variable video data rate of 20 kbps (MUCH higher data rate and much lower compression than the Elgato, which means a clearer picture). The audio is AC-3 format at 48 kHz and a data rate of 384 kbps (again, much less compression than the Elgato, which means the Hauppauge perhaps yields slightly higher audio quality). If these technical details sound confusing, it's not important. The point is, the video capture from the Hauppauge product is significantly higher quality than from the Elgato, at the expense of significantly larger output files, and like the Elgato, can be edited with most video editing software. (A 2-hour video capture on the Hauppauge gave me a 5 GB file, as opposed to the 1.5 GB file from the Elgato for the same video tape.) Note that, like most video capture devices, the Hauppauge gives you the full captured video frame, which means you end up with some fuzzy lines at the bottom, as explained above. You can eliminate those fuzzy lines during editing with a crop or minor zoom.

Blackmagic Design Intensity Shuttle: This is the cream-of-the-crop for video capture. It comes in either a USB 3.0 model for Windows or a Thunderbolt model for the Mac. It captures both high-def and standard-def video in full, uncompressed format, so there is no loss of video quality for compression. For true archival quality of your video memories, this is the Rolls Royce option. However, there are two trade-offs to obtain this quality. The first is that your uncompressed video takes a LOT of disk space. The second, and more important, consideration is that you need a computer that can handle the extremely high data rate coming from the Blackmagic device (since the video is uncompressed). If you run Windows, you need a high-speed computer using an Intel x58 based motherboard, a true USB 3.0 port, and the latest USB 3.0 drivers. Most computers don't meet this requirement, even when they have a USB 3.0 port. There is a list of officially tested motherboards on the Blackmagic web site. My 1st-generation Dell XPS 17 laptop (which has two USB 3.0 ports) does not meet this requirement, so I can't use the Intensity Shuttle, and thus I haven't tried it. Though not officially listed as a supported system, there is a YouTube video called "Intensity Shuttle and Dell XPS Laptop From Scratch - Tutorial" that explains how use a SECOND-generation Dell XPS 17 laptop with the Intensity Shuttle if you re-install Windows 7 and strip down the software running in the background to the bare minimum. Many people who want to use the Intensity Shuttle will buy or build a computer specifically for this purpose. If you don't already have a computer that is compatible with the Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle, and you aren't willing to invest to purchase or build one, or you don't need the full uncompressed archival quality video that is captured by the Intensity Shuttle, go with the Hauppauge or Elgato products, above.

I hope this comparative review is helpful to someone. Good luck, and good for you for transferring your precious older analog video tapes!
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413 of 424 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drop dead simple..., June 5, 2009
This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
I read the reviews here and went ahead with my purchase anyway. I'm glad I did.

It couldn't be any more simple to record from an analog source to the Mac. My project is converting some old VHS home movies to digital videos. I wanted to try a test before I jumped into the real projects, so I decided to encode a small section of a VHS tape purchased around 1992.

I popped the software disc into my laptop and it installed in a few minutes. When finished, I launched the application and it presented me with a screen to test the video signal. I plugged in both ends of the device and I saw what was playing on my VCR instantly. The next screen made sure I had audio. Once set-up was out of the way, it was off to the races. I tested with a 10 minute section of the video and the software stopped recording exactly when I told it to.

I wanted to address the "issue" the other reviewers mistakenly have with this product not outputting H.264. The first video I captured has a file extension of ".mp4" and the description is "MPEG-4 Movie" in Finder. When I right-clicked and chose Get Info on the file, under Codecs, I see H.264, AAC listed. This proves H.264 encoding works with this product. I request the reviewers who said this is not working do the same and report the results.

Bottom line, this is a very simple to use product and I am looking forward to using it to convert those old movies from VHS. MUST BUY.
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219 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Video Review of the Elgato Video Capture Device, January 24, 2010
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This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
Length:: 3:38 Mins

If you are like us you probably have hours and hours of home movies that are slowly decaying on VHS tape. In the ideal world I would have all of our home movies on my computer where they can be made into DVDs or sent to a media player (I am using Apple TV with 160GB Hard Drive - MB189LL/A since it works seamlessly with my Mac). I happy to report that the Elgato helps to solve the problem of how I am going to get this media into my computer. I will say that there are other options such as buying a VHS/DVD recorder and then using software such as Handbrake to rip the content off of the DVD. I am sure there are others ways too... but using the Elgato Video Capture was the choice I used.

Pros-

- Easy set-up (less than 5 minutes)
- Cost effective
- Works for all media types - if it has a RCA or S-Video output you are in business - This includes a my mini-DVD video camera, Slngbox, DVR, or your TV
- Will record directly from your Tivo (see above)
- I didn't have any of the problems with the video/audio syncing
- Works perfectly with a Mac (PC users have other choices)
- Will publish directly to YouTube and ITunes

Final Verdict - Works perfectly for me and I couldn't be happier!
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141 of 150 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very easy to use & understand, makes great DVD's, August 16, 2009
By 
Gary Miller (Anchorage, AK USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
If you're like me, I have way too many old VHS tapes that I want to convert to DVD, but haven't found sofware/hardware combination that is easy to use, and does a great job.... Well, I've solved that problem with Elgato's Video Capture, it's so easy to use and understand. This company comprehends what we want and gives it to us. Yea.

Ok, all I need to do was first install the supplied software, hook up my VHS player with the included cables, and then read the well written instructions by Elgato. Sound easy, it is.

I looked up the first tape I wanted to do, and it had the time of it, so I set that up, All of the steps were made even easier with the step by step video/slide training on Elgato's site. Each step showed what I was to do, cables, plugs, settings, all of it there.

So once I made my first DVD from VHS, I was able to trim the boring stuff at either end, good idea. Then I was asked if I wanted to:

Play with Quick Time Player that's already on your Mac
Add to iTunes
Edit with iMovie
Upload to YouTube

I chose iTunes, so I could watch it on my iPhone/iPod or on the computer. I highly recommend it. no issues found ...I looked and could see that I could also use my camcorder, DVD player, and other analog video to my Mac via USB 2.0. The software that Elgato gives you yields H.264 or MPEG-4 that I easily sent to iTunes. Great!

Elgato Video Capture Technical Information:

Elgato Video Capture automatically detects NTSC, SECAM, PAL, and PAL/60 video formats for worldwide compatibility.

Video resolution: 640×480 (4:3) or 640×360 (16:9)
Video format: H.264 at 1.4 MBit/sec or MPEG-4 at 2.4 MBit/sec
Audio: AAC, 48kHZ, 128 kBit/sec

Generated files can be synced with video capable iPods, iPhones and Apple TV and can be edited in iMovie `09 without re-encoding.

System Requirements:

Macintosh computer with Intel Core Duo processor
512 MB of RAM
Built-in USB 2.0 port
Mac OS X 10.5.6 Leopard (or later)
QuickTime 7.6 (or later)
iTunes 8.1 or later
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152 of 172 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not include a hardware encoder, drops frames, October 8, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
UPDATED May 18, 2013: I originally wrote this review in October 2009 (over 3.5 years ago), and was reporting on my experiences using it with a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo 15" MacBook Pro, which is much older and slower than the machines most people have today. Others have reported that it works better on more modern hardware (i.e., anything with a Core i5/i7 CPU). I ended up returning it, so I can't say. I found that the Blackmagic Design Video Recorded linked below worked much better for me, although it's twice the price of this device.

Elgato markets this as a H.264 capture device, but they only mention in the fine print (and nowhere on the Amazon page) that it does NOT include a hardware H.264 encoder. Instead, it uses your Mac's CPU to encode the video. This leads to two problems: first, your computer is basically useless for anything else while you're capturing video; and second, if your Mac isn't fast enough, it has to fall back to the lower quality (and less CPU-intensive) MPEG-4 codec. When I purchased this, Elgato's web site stated that H.264 was supported on machines with a 2.0 GHz Core2 Duo or better. In the latest 1.0.1 software update, they have revised this to a 2.33 GHz Core2 Duo, which puts my 2.2 GHz Core2 Duo MacBook Pro on the wrong side of the line. In addition, this device is very pricey for a software-only encoder -- there are other products available (albeit without Mac support) for a quarter of the price of this product that do video capture with software encoding.

The final nail in the coffin is that even encoding in MPEG-4, the video captured with this device has frequent frame drops and glitches, which makes the recordings unusable. I've wasted over an hour recording video that I had to throw away because of frame drops. For those that say it's "okay" because the frame drops are infrequent, I disagree -- I'm not willing to audit hours of captured video to find the places where it dropped frames and re-record those segments.

I'm going to be sending this back and trying either the Blackmagic Design H.264 Format Video Recorder (which does encode in hardware) or the Hauppauge 1212 HD-PVR High Definition Personal Video Recorder. Both of these are more expensive than the Elgato, but I'd rather pay more for something that works.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, July 6, 2009
By 
dlmh "dlmh" (Highland Mills, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
I've recorded about 20 8mm camcorder tapes onto my Mac Mini (1.66ghz cpu, 2gb ram) using this device. My system isn't powerful enough to generate H.264 files, but it produces mpeg4 files that play fine, they just take up about 1gb per hour of video. Video quality is about the same as the original tapes.

The software couldn't be simpler - just hit a record button. You can set it to automatically stop recording after 1,2, or 3 hours, in case you are recording overnight. There is a bare bones trim feature that lets you trim off extra video before or after your desired recording.

There is an encoding process that occurs when you are ready to save your video. It's very quick. On my relatively low powered Mac it takes about 10 minutes for a 2hr video.

My only problem is with dropped frames, which results in choppy video. It happens consistently on the first few seconds of every recording, and occasionally in the middle of a recording. It doesn't happen often, and I can just re-record the choppy scenes, but I don't know why it happens at all. I've asked Elgato on their forum, but no response yet.

Overall this has been an easy product to use. If I can figure out how to avoid the dropped frames/choppy video I'd give it 5 stars.

Update: I still don't know the reason for the choppiness, but I was able to associate it with unrecorded portions of the 8mm tape. Whenever there is an unrecorded portion of the tape, the video that follows will be choppy for a few seconds. This can be avoided by starting the Elgato recording immediately after the recorded portion of the tape begins to play. This is somewhat annoying if you have multiple recordings on the tape with segments of unrecorded tape in between them. It means essentially that you can't leave the tape unattended while it transfers to the computer. I've raised my rating to 4 stars based on my understanding of this quirk, but I would certainly prefer not having to deal with the choppiness at all.

It is possible that Elgato corrected this quirk. I've recorded all my tapes, and therefore haven't used the device in quite a while. There may be an update.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read the reviews before buying this - it does not work, March 25, 2013
By 
TD (La Mesa, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
I read many of the reviews of the Elgato Video Capture Device, pro and con. I read of some success stories, but many reviews complained about poor documentation and support, as well as out of sync audio. I went ahead and baought it based on the overall positive trend of the reviews. Bad idea. After spending many days tranferring high quality, store bought, lightly played, music instrucation VHS tapes, I gave up. The reviews were right - the audio sync is a major problem, at least on my set up (2 yr old high end Dell, Win 7, Mitsubishi HS-U747 VHS recorder). The audio starts out fine, then gradually lags to a delay of several seconds. This was true on 30 min and 2 hr+ videos. In the few cases where the audio lag did not happen I had to do several transfers before I got one to work. I made no changes to the set up that could have contributed to the successful tranfers. I tried rebooting many, many times and reinstalled the SW 2-3 times from CD and website (these were the same versions anyway). None of this made any difference. I started out every session with a PC reboot and did not run any other programs. I even tried disconnecting from the internet and turning off my security SW.

The SW install was problematic and I had to install it several times with PC lock ups along the way. Once I got past that, the transfer process was easy - the only positive I can give to this product. However, I found I was only able to get about 1 of 10 transfers to be acceptable for audio. That is not reliable enough for me so I returned the Elgato and bought a Hauppauge HD PVR. That device has a similar mix of pro/con reviews, so I will review it after using it for a few transfers.

This is my first review and this product is so bad I decided to write one. I gave this the lowest possible rating because the Elgato Video Capture Device simply DOES NOT WORK.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and Elegant, January 9, 2010
This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
I bought this product because I had an aging library of analog video (3/4", VHS, and 8mm) I wanted to archive and edit digitally. I wasn't sure how the thing was going to work, and I was concerned it might take too long to convert or render the analog footage to digital. None of that has been a problem.

The hardware device works like a simple plug adapter from male USB to 3 female RCA inputs. You plug the USB connector into your computer and connect the RCA inputs to the analog video and audio outputs on your VCR, deck, or camcorder.

The software installs simply and works intuitively. You can see and hear your source video as it comes in. You simply start your tape, rough-cue it to the point you want to start transferring, and click "Start Record." The capture runs in real time, so a one-minute video clip takes one minute to capture. You click "Stop Recording" when you want the clip to end.

At this point you can trim the head and tail of your captured clip. You simply click-and-drag the pointer at either end of the progress bar to set your in and out edit points. You can adjust these frame-by-frame if you want to be more precise. When you've set your start and end points, you click "Continue," and the clip is written to a digital file (MPEG-4 by default.)

One minute of analog video converts to about a 20MB mp4 file. It only takes a few seconds to write 60 seconds of video. (I have an average older iMac; nothing special.)

Software updates are available free and automatically online. I recommend the update, since it allows you adjust the audio levels and the brightness, contrast, saturation, and hue of your video. You can make these adjustments before you start your capture, or you can make real-time adjustments during capture. The controls aren't terribly sophisticated, but they work fine. You can see and hear the effect of the adjustments as you make them.

You can opt to export your captured clip directly to iTunes, iMovie, or YouTube. (I haven't done that, since I wanted to edit first.) I imported my converted mp4 files directly to Final Cut Pro and was able to work with them normally without any problems.

The product is simple, elegant, and intuitive. It's very Apple-like in that regard, and works as advertised. I can recommend it without reservtion.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Just Works -- Simply, November 23, 2009
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This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
Like most people, I bought the Elgato Video Capture to digitize my analog family video tapes before they turned to dust. In three words "it simply works". I have digitized approximately 18 hours of tapes so far without any problems, without any dropped frames, and the picture quality is as good as the original tapes. The process is straight forward -- load the software, connect the camcorder to the capture device, launch the software (it will check for audio and video automatically). I have not tried saving for YouTube or iPod, but I do save for editing using iMovie and the process is just one mouse click after the video has been digitized. My workflow has been to capture using Elgato Video Capture, save as .mp4, edit using iMovie, and finally burning to DVD using iDVD.

For information:

Computer: MacBook Pro 5,1
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
2.4 GHz
4 GB Memory

Camcorder: Sony 8 Camcorder
Model FX330 (c 1993)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, decent quality for captured video, July 13, 2011
By 
Nola (Bay Area, California, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elgato Video Capture (10020840) (Electronics)
This is a very good product, though ultimately I returned it. There is very little you need to think about in terms of settings, etc.; it basically handles it all for you automatically, and there is a lot to be said for that approach. It will:
- decide on the video format (compression format) based on the capabilities of your Mac (you can also do a manual override)
- crop the video ever so slightly, to remove the unsightly "overscan" lines at bottom or other edges.
- apparently apply mild color/contrast adjustments that make dark areas more visible (compared to the other capture device I tried)
- capture the video directly into the final storage format you'll likely want.

The quality is quite good, in many cases it is hard to tell it apart from the source material, especially if you are not a perfectionist. For some material -- dimly lit video with detailed patterns like the weave of a carpet -- blocky patches of compression are visible and can be distracting.

If you go with the manual override (and have a fast enough Mac), you get to choose from two formats: h.264 at 1.4 Mbps, or MPEG-4 at 2.4 Mbps. They are awfully close in quality for most material--goes to show how good h.264 is, to yield near-identical quality at half the data rate. I found MPEG-4 to show fewer compression artifacts overall, just barely.

The Elgato can drop frames (miss brief portions of the source video) if you try to do much with your mac while it is capturing. Turning off auto-sleep and leaving the Mac alone is a good idea.

I did extensive comparisons with a Canopus ADVC-55 (more than double the price) and decided the quality was just enough higher with the Canopus to settle on it and return the Elgato. It helped that I got lucky and picked up a used ADVC-55 for $25. The quality differences were visible on still frame comparisons of paused video -- though I'm not sure how valid such comparisons are in the real world (comparing playing video is what really matters of course, but sometimes I do like to pause video to check out stills). When playing the video, it can be very hard to see differences that are apparent in still frames.

What a really wished with the Elgato is that it had an h.264 @ 2.4 Mbps setting -- I think that would be an ideal balance of quality and storage size. It's likely the current options already max out the processing capabilities of the hardware, or maybe Elgato opted to not provide a bunch of choices for the user to stress over--again, a lot to be said for that.

So, I am going with the ADVC-55. Note that it produces DV format video, which has a more complex workflow:
- use iMovie to capture the DV stream from the ADVC-55.
- wait for iMovie to generate thumbnails (about 10 min for a 120 min video)
(You can stop after this step, but only if you want to use up about 10x the storage space of the h.264 format as generated by the Elgato--a reasonable option actually, if you have the space.) [Although if you want to play the video on the AppleTV (I do), conversion is a must.]
- decide if you want to crop the overscan, or just ignore it.
- using Quicktime Player, iTunes, or iMovie, save from DV to the final storage format (h.264 for me). Note: I found a QuickTime export eliminated interlacing artifacts ("combing"), while the iTunes 10 "Create iPad or AppleTV version" made a file that showed clear combing artifacts on the AppleTV. Both methods created a file around 2.5 Mbps with h.264 compression.

This procedure does produce a higher quality video in the end. If I get a chance, I'll post some clips for comparison.
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Elgato Video Capture (10020840)
$119.99 $79.99
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