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3.3 out of 5 stars
Pinnacle Systems Dazzle DVD Recorder Plus [OLD VERSION]
Price:$48.50 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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70 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2010
The Dazzle DVD Recorder Plus is exactly what you'd expect it to be, nothing more and nothing less. Aside from one huge catch, this device is perfect for anyone who wants a relatively cheap way to record outside video sources onto their computers in Standard Definition. Please note, there is *no* HD capture with this device.

Setup is rather easy, if you don't have Windows 7 or Vista. If you do, I recommend downloading the new drivers from their website. The biggest problem with setup is that the device installed on my Windows XP laptop, but refused to install on my Windows 7 desktop. Tried and tried and tried, and finally found a third party app that disabled some security features of Windows 7 and got it to install. It would crash constantly with a error code, one of two different numbers. A problem with the installation certificate or some such.

Physical installation could not be easier, with one catch. You simply plug the USB into your computer's USB port, and then plug the composite cables into the Dazzle itself. That's it, you've now got the image on your computer when you start the software. The big catch is that the device's S-VIDEO port is recessed into the plastic case, so if your S-VIDEO cable has a thick covering like mine, it will not fit in the hole and will not connect properly. Bummer.

After installing the software and setting it up, it's important to note that the included quick capture software will only capture the video in DVD format. Even if you choose to record to the hard drive, which there is an option for, it makes a VIDEO_TS folder that contains DVD-formatted files. No thanks, not my thing. So I instead open up Pinnacle Studio 12 (after finally getting it to install) and capture from this device (DVC100) directly to a PC-specific video format (such as an AVI wrapper). Doing that avoids the fiasco of trying to convert the DVD files into a more computer-friendly format.

The only noticeable issue with the video quality is a strange line that will appear either on the bottom or the top of the video. It is just a pixel or two wide, and it's clearly some sort of buffer issue. It'll be most noticeable in video that has black near the top of bottom, has the line often has alternating white and black pixels dancing all over. It's hardly a deal stopper, but it's an issue. You can trim out that line of pixels with any decent video editing program.

I specifically use this device for capturing Xbox 360 and Wii game footage. Please note that you have to play your Xbox 360 in SD, not HD, and so it will *not* be the ideal device for gamers looking to record their exploits in sniping people or getting that perfect headshot in Halo 3, unless you are content to play all of your games in SD from now on. I only hook up the Dazzle when I want to record, and I record in order to do game reviews. When I play a game for personal enjoyment, I do so using an HDMI cable and the Dazzle disconnected. No, you cannot output both HDMI and to the Dazzle in SD at the same time.

If you want to capture content from your VHS, DVD player, SD camcorder or camera with video, Wii, or other SD video-producing device, this is a great option so long as you can connect it to the Dazzle using composite cables or S-VIDEO. It's relatively cheap as far as video editing hardware goes, and it does what it's advertised to do.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
Verified Purchase
I've had this capture device for a little over 2 weeks now and I can already tell the difference between it and the EasyCap. The EasyCap records video in UVS format. I had never heard of UVS before so it was new to me. A 3 and a half minute video on the EasyCap turns out to be a MASSIVE file (4.1 GB or larger). The Dazzle records in AVI which is much more common and found all over (YouTube accepts it as well). The quality is just exactly what I was hoping for and with a little tweaking in the software, you can record some great footage.

Pros:
Cheaper than a Hauppauge HD PVR
Super easy to set up
Records in AVI
Records like a charm
Looks sharp
Pinnacle Studio 12 is easy to use
Videos can be re-rendered in Windows Movie Maker to make them of higher quality

Cons:
More expensive than EasyCap
USB cable is somewhat annoyingly long
S-video plug-in is recessed too far into the device
Have to download special drivers for Windows7 64-bit
Although the files are smaller than that of the EasyCap, they are still somewhat large
Recommend buying external hard drive (such as the My Passport brand)
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2010
I purchased this product after being disappointed with other video capture hardware that didn't work for me. The Dazzle DVD Recorder Plus has performed great for my needs. I am able to record S-video in 16x9 format from my DVR via my laptop onto a portable hard drive in an .AVI file and then burn it to DVD. I have also recorded RCA video and audio from a VHS deck onto a DVD. Setup was easy and the software included performs as advertised. I highly recommend this product.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2010
Verified Purchase
This device is such a lifesaver! For anyone looking for a cheap, simple, and easy way to record thngs off your TV like video game footage, VHS tapes, or even DVDs, this device is it! Simply install (takes about 20 minutes or so on a standard desktop) and soon, you'll have a cheap way to record anything you want off your computer.

Just note, there are a quite a few things you'll need. For starters, it almost goes without saying that you'll need an HDTV to be right next to your desktop PC. If you don't have a television set in the same room as your TV, you'll need to remedy this. Second, on most TV's you'll need to buy three splitters for your RCA cables (sold seperately). For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the RCA cables are the standard red, yellow, and white cords that you use to hook other things up to your TV. Most TV's and electronics today have ports for these cords. But the Dazzle requires two seperate RCA cords (one for it and one for your TV to connect to the alternate device, like an Xbox or VHS or DVD player.) You'll likely already have one, but the Dazzle requires you'll need to buy at least another one, so do that while ordering the product if you don't already have one. They're very cheap to buy. And besides two RCA cords, you'll also need three splitters for the cords. Three two-female to one-male splitters. Okay, what that basically means is that you'll need these three things to connect the two cords together. It works like this. Your capturing device (video game, DVD player, etc.) connects via an RCA cord to one half of the three splitters. The Dazzle connects to the other three female slots of the splitters. And the male ends of the splitters connect to the TV. So, you'll basically need them to plug two, seperate RCA cords into one port set onto your TV. If it sounds complicated, it's not. Just know you'll need at least two RCA cords and three 2-female into 1-male splitters before buying this product. Many people, including me, buy them all at the same time.

Okay, once you have everything, you'll be ready to start recording things off your TV and turn them into homemade DVDs or videos for uploading onto viral video websites. Another downside is that the software that comes with the Dazzle, Pinnacle Studio, is NOT very user friendly. I mean, it's simple enough if you have a basic understanding of computers and technology, but if you're over 40, you may not know how to use the software properly. Oh, and another thing. Pinnacle's customer support is the WORST. I'd advise you not to even try to call them, unless you have no choice. Any random person with a basic understanding of modern technology, such as myself, would be able to give you a lot more help than the clueless support staff at Pinnacle. Even IF they're just reading out of a Frequently Asked Questions guide given to them on their jobs, they're STILL clueless.

But all in all, for $50, this product is worth it's money. It could be better, but it'll get the job done and give you good quality videos for uploading onto the web, turning into a custom DVD, or just keeping on your hard drive. For anyone who cares, you CAN'T get HD on this thing. No High Definition videos. But I don't care about that, and you probably shouldn't, either. The quality of the videos on here come out looking pretty good, if not great. As for storing them away, you might want to save them in a lower quality format. The best, AVI, takes up hundreds of Megabytes per minute (easily resulting in a ten minute video being over one Gigabyte), while something lower quality, like Windows Media or MPEG-1 only takes up dozens of Megabytes. A HUGE difference in space versus a minor difference in video quality.

And in case you're wondering if you should go for the fancier, $80 version of the Dazzle, DON'T. Don't make the same mistake I did by going for the "better", more expensive Dazzle Video Creator Plus HD. It's a huge waste of time, and requires the fanciest of computers in order to run properly. Unless you can afford it and have a brand, spanking new, top-of-the-line desktop, it isn't worth it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Attempted to install on my Windows 7 Ultimate system. The installer would crash before completing - no error message - just quits. Tried several times. Download the newest drovers from their website. Locked my PC while installing - had to power down. Attempted again. Locked up again.

Plus after purchasing this, I discovered that you are REQUIRED to use the included video editing software. You can't capture without it. I have After Effects and Premiere - I don't want do use this limited, OLD version of some basic no-frill software. Plus it won't even install!

Returning it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2010
Verified Purchase
I bought this a little over a week ago and i must say that it is very good. I bought this mainly to record some of my xbox 360 gameplay. No it is not the best product with the best quality, but with the right settings you can make it into a HD video. I Use the software that came with this along with Sony Vegas 10 to get the best quality picture. This is a very good product for such a low price. But I do plan on getting a HD PVR soon just so i can have that extra sharpness. If you dont have enough money or just want something for a low price that can record. I would strongly recommend this product.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2010
Verified Purchase
I bought this item because I wanted to transfer old camcorder tapes of my kids as babies to dvd. The Dazzle along with the accompanying software was amazing and made it so easy. I didn't have to be a rocket scientist to work it and I was able to not only transfer the tapes but also create cute movies. I would definately recommend this product to others.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2011
This little unit is what it is: an analog to digital converter for older-style video sources. It doesn't up-convert them to near-HD; it just brings them over in the same resolution that old VHS cameras could create, which is roughly 333 x 480 pixels using modern terms (486 lines tops in old terms) on a good day. And porting it over to digital is all that I want it to do.

I installed the Dazzle on Windows 7 64-bit and noted that the drivers and software are all dated 2008, same as what's available on the website. Even though I just bought a fresh unit, it came with Pinnacle Studio 12 which again is the 2008 version and not the current version 15 (2011). And like clockwork, it asked me after registering if I wanted to buy the newest version of the software for $69, which is more than this unit cost in the first place. No thanks, and how come you didn't provide the more recent software, Pinnacle?

The installer gives you four selections to install and I only selected the Studio 12, which is the minimal part that you have to install to get the capture software and drivers. Studio 12 has three main functions: Capture video, edit video and save the video however you want (file format, DVD, etc.). In my case, I have no need for anything but the capture portion - with a box full of VHS home movies going back decades, I'm in no mood to spend time fiddling with each video to add special effects, titles and musical effects. I've done plenty of video editing before and it is very time consuming work. With this device, I just want to rip the VHS tapes to a digital format, one after another.

And the Dazzle DVDRecorder Plus has been doing that job for me remarkably well.

After installing the software & driver, I plugged the Dazzle unit into a USB port where it was quickly recognized and operational. Then I started the Pinnacle Studio 12 software, went into the settings which I checked and adjusted a little. It also wants to read the captured video immediately following the capture and try to save points where it changes which would be nice editing, but I turned that off. Also, in the capture screen, there's a popout control in the middle left where you can adjust color saturation (which I turned up a little), hue, contrast, brightness and sharpness. I also note that following install the software defaulted to digital camcorder control which was easily switched to get input from the actual Dazzle device - and then it saw what I had plugged in.

Tip: I dug out an old heavy-gauge high-end, gold-plated RCA cable for the video connection, and used the standard red and white RCA cords for audio (no cables are included with the Dazzle so use your own). Back in the analog days, the quality of cable and its connections made a very noticeable difference in video quality, so use your very best cable to connect the video. S-Video would be even better (the only working VHS deck I have doesn't have S-Video).

Once it's set up, you'll see and hear your VHS deck's playback in a window. It's simple to click to start capturing and also start the video tape playing. I've made use of its timed auto-stop feature on the 30-minute tapes I've been copying.

A key discovery: I discovered that the original captured MPG file is saved in the Windows "My Videos" folder during the capture and that is all that I desire from this process - I completely skipped the "Edit" and "Make Movie" functions. It's already saved when the Capture process ends. Your choice is only AVI or MPEG-2 and I wish it would provide more options in the original capture, but I can live with MPEG. The saving function ("Make Movie") gives many more file format selections, but that means making a conversion of the original digital file, which is less than desirable and can lead to lower quality. That may be where people are complaining - if you do all that, you have a digital conversion copy of an analog conversion copy of the VHS tape by that point. Know what I mean?

When done capturing the file is saved and ready on your hard drive. It is saved at 720x480 which I suspect is about as good as you're going to get from classic VHS. Once the tape ends, I click to stop capturing and start on the next tape. I personally have not and do not plan to use the video editing features in Studio 12, so I can't speak for how that works. I have much better video software such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere should I decide to do something with the files.

I also have a quad-core Intel I7 processor and only two of the cores are active while capturing, running at only 8-9% total usage and about 300M RAM, so it's not hitting the main processors hard at all and using an expected amount of RAM on a modern computer which should have at least 4 gigs of RAM. I suspect that the graphics card is doing some of the work. The instructions do make a point to talk about the importance of hardware acceleration which comes from a good separate graphics card and not the cheaper built-in graphics on many motherboards; but that may be more for editing and saving. I have an adequate, not a serious gamer NVidia card and have seen no slowdown.

In the end, I've had this device for 24 hours and have already ripped about fifteen VHS-C tapes of old home movies. The most trouble I've had is with the old VHS tapes that clearly are delicate due to their age. It's slow going as you have to capture in real-time mode, and I've had to fast-forward and rewind some tapes to get them to play all the way through.

Only one hiccup: I put the PC to sleep with the device connected, restarted the computer in the morning and the device had no sound and while I was tinkering, finally threw the first blue screen I've ever seen from Windows 7. I unplugged it, restarted the computer, plugged it in and all went well for the entire day. My take-away is to unplug the Dazzle before putting my PC into sleep mode.

So there you have it - it's simple, easy to use and produces video that's about as good as old VHS is going to be. The software does what it needs to do and you don't have to follow through with the editing and converting if you don't want to. Give it 4 out of 5 stars for being strong at a very nice price point. The software you get works fine, but it's still not their current stuff. If they would give you the newer software, it'd be a 5-star product.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2010
Verified Purchase
I give this 4 stars because this product does what it says it does. Its basically an interface between a device with RCA or an S-video jack and a computer. My only issues are with the software.
The Instant DVD Recorder software can be tempermental. (I discovered that it sometimes will close/crash if the DVD isn't loaded at the correct point of the setup process.) Sans that, its a godsend. I've had files on a cable TV DVR that I can now finally put into digital format. I haven't tried any of the other included software, so I can't speak on its behalf.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2010
device is designed to capture analog video from VHS video tapes using RCA cables. the problem is if your video has some video noise (old family video tapes) you'll end up having lots of dropped frames thus won't be able to capture it. software itself is cheap, crashes. missing some important codecs like h.264

I don't recommend buying this thing, can send you mine as a gift because it can't be returned (software, serial numbers etc.)
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