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Old 12-01-2006, 08:13 AM   #1
Tarrasque
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Need a good video capture card under $200


Hello everybody.

Since Christmas is getting close, I'd like to "suggest" relatives to give me a good, not too expensive, capture card as a present.

Main use would be capturing old footage from tapes, if it has a TV tuner, all the better.

A nice good feature would be if the card were external, so that I could also use it with my laptop, but I can do without it if it rises the price too much. Quality of capture is my most important feature.

Of course it has to be perfectly supported by Linux.

Can anyone suggest me something in the $100/200 price zone?

Thank you very much.
 
Old 12-01-2006, 09:10 AM   #2
bruno buys
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Any card based on the bttv, saa*, or the pinnacles would be supported well. Quality of capture is related to the max size of frames captured. For example, my pixelview (bttv) does 640x480 max. Pinnacles are better, they do like 756x520, or something like this. The saa* chips are said to be better than the bttv's.
Video-only card tend to be more expensive, because they are more specialized. TV cards are like the cheapest, entry level.
If you care about quality, prefer the pinnacles. Also, some TV cards do radio capture, if its relevant to you.

There can be other cards and chips that I'm not aware, tough.

Else, its a matter of knowing which ones the retailers close to you have available.
 
Old 12-01-2006, 09:48 AM   #3
Tarrasque
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Thank you for answering.

My goal is to make DVDs out of my tape footage, so I'm aiming to capture cards that support at least DVD resolution.

Unfortunately, I do know nothing about chipset and technical stuff like that, so I'll appreciate if you can tell me some brand models.

Regarding reatailer availability, well that's a good point you make, but I guess that with eBay and other online shop I can pretty much access to any reasonably common hardware.

Plus, brands like Pinnacle, for instance, are so widespread that I don't think I have any problem in finding stores that supply them.

Thank you very much again.

So, can you tell me any Pinnacle models that could fit my case? Or, any other common brand, for that matter.
 
Old 12-01-2006, 04:23 PM   #4
bruno buys
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It seems scary but it isn't, . You see, every card has a main chip and some other helper components, which can be reasonably important/intelligent. TV capture cards tune the tv signal through a tuner and then pipe it to a digitizing chip, which transforms waves into bits so the rest of the computer can understand. The main chip is the digitizing chip, also the one that needs a driver. In video capture cards that don't have tv tuners, you only have to bother about the main chip. TV and radio tuners do have drivers as well, cause the OS needs to be able to switch channels, when the user commands.

This http://www.bttv-gallery.de/ website may give you a good idea about cards and chips. Don't need to read everything, but look at the pictures.

I'm trying to simplify all the stuff here. Sometimes when reading card's specs its not quite easy to get right to this information, there are a lot of nonsense and irrelevant data before you get to whats really important.

When you search for a card for your system:

- search the specs of the card, try to figure the max frame size the card can capture.
- its rare, but some vendors do supply information about linux support. Even if its a 'No', we want to know. Better than to be left wandering...
- If there's a brand with linux support, but to some other distro than yours, its a good start. This one shall be preferred than some other with supposedly no support. Maybe someone somewhere ported/repackaged the driver for your distro.
- Once you have a handful of brands/models that you like, google all of them with 'card linux' 'card mandrake', etc etc you get the idea. Most likely you'll bump posts and forums with people trying the same as you.
- Avoid the very-new top-notch model. Its harder to find hw support for very new hw. Prefer models with one or two years.
- Don't get disencouraged if the vendor do not claim linux support to the card. In most cases the support is built by the free software community, not by the vendor. Things like "Windows2000/XP and Mac" are not saying the hw won't work under linux.

Also, for dvd authoring, you may want to google for 'tovid', 'avitovob', 'dvrequant (was born here at LQ)'. I guess you'll have to make some transformations to the captures, as video from capture cards are not dvd ready. Fear not, its all doable, with some research.

Good luck. Sorry I can't tell you exactly what models are good for you. This changes very quickly.
 
Old 12-01-2006, 05:07 PM   #5
Tarrasque
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Well, unfortunately I'm a complete newbie in video editing, so, reading the specs I'm afraid will be a bit too complex.

All I know is that I intend to make DVDs of my tapes, so I guess that I need a capture card capable of capturing analog video at 756x520 (I think), 25 frames per second.

That's where my knowledge ends. I'm afraid I won't be able to judge if a particular card is worth the money. Plus, I have to find out whether it's well supported by Linux unless (God forbids!) I'm forced to revert to Windows.

What I hoped was that someone could tell me "here! that's the video card I have, and does what you need".

Then, once I got that card, I can take all the time I need to document myself in order to use it, learn how to use video editing and capturing software for Linux, learn how to make DVD menus...

But at least I start by knowing that I have a supported piece of hardware, and if something does not work is because I have to learn better how to use the software, if you get what I mean
 
Old 12-01-2006, 05:45 PM   #6
Electro
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The best external video/audio capture device that works in Linux is Canopus ADVC110. It needs a 6-pin IEEE-1394 connection or else you have to buy a power supply for it.

If you are just going to convert VHS or S-VHS tapes to DVD with out any editing, I suggest Hauppauge PVR-250 (model 980). This card encodes directly to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. This makes it easier for your computer and for you to put on to a DVD. Though do not use this card for games because there is a few second delay.

Philips SAA713x chips provides better video capture than bt878 chips because the bt878 are very, very grainy. I have both cards. CX23xx88 chips are an upgrade to BT878, but not as good as Philips chips. The down fall of video capture cards based on SAA713x chips is the tuner just sucks. Make sure all video capture cards comes with a line-out jack (aka loop cable) or else you are going to have a hard time getting audio to work and to sync correctly.

Higher the video capture resolution is not always better. The source have to have a high resolution to start with. If you capture at a high resolution and recording from VHS, you will lose disk space. VHS resolution is not any more than 352x480 (NTSC) 352x576 (PAL). The maximum capture resolution that I recommend is 640x480 (NTSC) and 640x576 (PAL).

When capturing video, you will have to worry about video codecs, audio codecs, and colorspace. I suggest Huffyuv for the best video codec because it is free and it is loss-less which means it does not throw out any video information while it is compressing. The audio codec you should use is WAV or PCM. The colorspace should be RGB24, YUV, or YUY2.

No, video capture cards do not change often. It changes about every five years.

Sound cards from Creative Labs and on-board devices are POS. Sound cards based on VIA ICE1724 is a lot better. The Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 or Auditrak Prodigy 7.1LT are the cards that I recommend for the best sound capture.

I suggest reading SAA7134.CARDLIST, BTTV.CARDLIST, CX88.CARDLIST in the kernel documentation directory. This is what is actually is supported. The HCL in this forum is rarely accurate.

I suggest using Google (http://www.google.com/) and Froogle (http://froogle.google.com/) to find the information and price of the desire video capture card.

The best video editing software is Cinelerra CVS. Unfortunately, it has the steepest learning curve.
 
Old 12-04-2006, 04:42 AM   #7
Tarrasque
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Thank you very much, Electro, for your answer.

Interesting the insight on the resolution. I didn't consider that VHS resolution is less than DVD.

You suggest me a Hauppauge PVR-250 card that encodes directly to MPEG. Isn't on-the-fly compression usually less effective than compression of "raw" video already captured on hard disk?

Since most of my tapes are rather old, many more than 20 years, they often have very bad video quality, so I guess that on-the-fly compression will result in very grainy output.

As long as post editing is concerned, of course I will have to do editing sometime, and I'm willing to study Cinelerra or any other editing software, most probably cutting and slicing the original source and rearranging on DVDs (no complex things like redubbing or subbing, for instance). But it's not the most urgent thing now. what I aim to do at the moment is converting the tapes I care most in digital, with the least quality loss possible, so that I can cut-and-paste later, and learn by trial and error without using the original tapes again.
 
  


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