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Review: Pinnacle Video Transfer Device



Simplicity Itself
This little black box has a cable going in and a cable going out. Oh, and there are two buttons too. Thatís pretty much it. But what happens in the middle makes it a useful tool. Letís say you donít have a computer handy . . . or you just donít want to mess with it. You take your camcorder or your VCR and plug it into the Video Transfer unit. Then plug your iPod into the USB connector on the other end. You just press the Mode button until you get the video quality you want. The LEDs below the Mode button light up: one for Good, two for Better, three for Best quality. After pressing the Mode button, wait for the lights at top and bottom to turn from red to blue.

Now press Play on your camcorder and the REC button on the Video Transfer. Thatís it.

The LEDs change to red again when recording. The video signal is converted in real time and placed automatically in the Videos folder of your iPod. Just press REC again when youíre finished recording. Two of the lights turn blue, but two stay red. Pinnacle warns that you must wait until all lights at the top and bottom of the device turn blue before disconnecting the cables. If you disconnect before the lights turn blue, you could lose your video.

A handy feature is that the Video Transfer charges the iPod battery during the video transfer.

Knowing that the Video Transfer was billed as "simple to use," I decided to try it first before reading one word of the instructions. Without knowing what any of the LEDs meant, I hooked up a camcorder and an iPod and started pressing the buttons that made sense to me. Before long, I had some video clips waiting for me to watch on the small screen.

Ins and Outs
Of course, you aren't limited to saving video to just your iPod. The Pinnacle video transfer unit will also talk to other USB devices: Sony PSP, USB Flash drives and USB hard drives. Make sure the Flash drives and hard drives are USB 2.0 and that you are using FAT16/32 formatting.

Inputs devices include your camcorder, DVD player, VCR, DVR, set-top box or gaming console. You can record your favorite TV shows or movies to your mobile device for watching away from home. Gaming enthusiasts can record their best sessions to share with friends.

Archiving
Who doesn't have a pile of videocassettes and camcorder tapes they'd love to convert to digital? The Pinnacle video transfer device provides an easy and inexpensive way to preserve those tapes on your hard drive in digital format. You can easily transfer video samples to a mobile player to show to your potential clients, too.

Features
Pinnacle included some fail-safe features in the Video Transfer design. Recording stops if the receiving device is full or if the input signal is lost or corrupted. You can defeat that fail-safe and go into "forced record" to capture whatever signal is coming in.

Before using your Pinnacle Video Transfer, you'll want to download the latest firmware update at www.pinnaclesys.com/pvtsupport. If your unit sometimes writes a blank MP4 file when the input signal goes bad, the firmware update will help. You'll also want to update the firmware on your iPod, PSP or other destination device.

To watch your transferred video on your PC or Mac, you must have QuickTime installed.

Wish-list
The unit's uber-simplicity does come at a price: your attention. You have to stand by to stop the record process at the desired moment. A programmable countdown timer would have been useful. Higher bitrates would also be nice and maybe even HD resolution, but I guess Iím getting greedy now.

This nifty little unit works as advertised: video in, MP4 files out. Great for archiving, digitizing home videos or just for instant iPod gratification.

TECH SPECS
Input Connectors: Composite video (RCA), stereo audio (RCA), S-video
Output Connectors: USB 2.0, types A and B
File Format: H.264 (MPEG-4)
Video Modes: Good (320x240, 768kbps
HDD/Flash Memory: video, 64kbps stereo audio, 48kHz), Better (640x480, 1.2Mbps video, 128kbps stereo audio, 48kHz), Best (720x480, 1.5Mbps video, 192kbps stereo audio, 48kHz)
AC Adapter: 5VDC

Strengths
  • Easy to use
  • Works intelligently with iPod
  • Can dupe VCR tapes

    Weaknesses
  • Standard definition only
  • No timer
  • Could lose video if you unplug cables too soon

    SUMMARY
    A useful little video converter for computer-less capture.


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