Video Capture Device Shopping Tips
Video capture devices are compact accessories that transfer audio and video signals to a computer from a media player, camcorder, or gaming console. They work particularly well for archiving old footage from VHS tapes and other legacy media formats. After the video capture hardware sends the data to your computer, you can save and edit files to your liking, and then burn clips onto a playable disc or upload them to a video-sharing service, preserving precious memories for years to come. Video game enthusiasts also use capture cards to grab and stream live-action gaming footage for online or in-person audiences, which provides a more interactive experience for loyal viewers and fans.
Which Video Capture Device Do I Need?
There are several video capture devices available to suit a variety of user needs. Options range from basic analog and digital converters to full-featured HDMI capture devices. Professional media studios use high-end equipment to ensure the highest quality output possible, while home users may find scaled-down capture cards and recorders a better fit for simple projects. The type of device you'll ultimately choose also depends on what's compatible with your equipment; older model cameras and PCs should feature support for USB 2.0 connectivity or better, although many video capture cards are backward-compatible with legacy devices.
Which Is Better: HDMI or SDI Inputs?
High-Definition Multimedia Interface technology, or HDMI, is supported by much of today's audio and video equipment, including digital cameras, cable TV receivers, and HDTV models. This technology provides viewers with a high-resolution picture and rich sound quality. An HDMI cable has a limited range, up to 50 feet without an amplifier or converter, yet it's the most consumer-friendly way to experience home entertainment. Many modern devices feature built-in HDMI ports, although older equipment may only offer S-video and/or RCA connectivity that supports analog connections rather than high-definition signals.
Serial Digital Interface, or SDI, is a standard used in broadcast television and professional media productions. SDI technology carries the highest quality signal for a longer range than HDMI, which is ideal in news-production environments and with professional camcorder devices. SDI cable connectors lock securely into the devices they're connected with, something HDMI connectors don't offer. This type of setup is generally not feasible for portable or small-scale productions, yet it offers high-end equipment users the most optimal audio and video output.
Video Capture Hardware Compatibility
Select USB capture devices and cables support NTSC, PAL, and SECAM formats, covering a range of equipment used around the world. Some are compatible with both PC and Mac computing platforms, giving you the option to swap out and share video capture devices with other users.
Video Capture Device Software
You can use your preferred editing software and peripherals, although some hardware comes bundled with everything you'll need to get started, including media production software. When purchasing standalone software, consider the scale of your project and your need for features such as decoding, easy collaboration with team members, and various effects.
Whether you plan to stream video, plug into conference calls, or bring family movies into the digital age, B&H Photo and Video is here to help.