Product Review (July 2008)
Pinnacle - Video Transfer

Capturing video content has never been simpler than with the new Pinnacle Video Transfer system. Unlike traditional methods which require a dedicated recording unit or a PC fitted with capture hardware, the Pinnacle Video Transfer requires only a standard USB memory device such as an iPod, PSP, USB stick, or USB hard drive. The unit records video using MPEG-4 (H.264) quality with resolutions of up to 720x480/576 onto any USB 2.0 storage device without the need for a PC. The Video Transfer device is simple to setup and video can be captured with a push of a button. The unit is less than 5" long, 2.75" wide and 1" thick and weighs a mere 4.7 ounces. The Video Transfer includes a set of standard A/V cables and a universal power adapter. Many of us have older video tapes we would like to transfer to DVD or files that are playable on our PCs. If you are like me with stacks of VHS, S-VHS, and Hi-8 analog tapes lying around it's time to get all those memories into the future formats. Moreover, degradation of those old tapes is inevitable so the longer you wait, the more likely those memories will become a faded past.

Video Quality
As with any compressed video format, the user will have to trade picture quality with storage size. The Best picture quality (720x480 resolution) requires approximately 1.3GB of data storage per hour of video recorded. There is also Best quality resolutions for the Sony PSP (320x240) and Apple iPod (640x480) that differ from DVD and require less storage space. For some, picture quality is less important than storage space, so Pinnacle gives those users the ability to maximize the video time with some video degradation.

Video Inputs
The Pinnacle Video Transfer unit has interfaces for composite and s-video along with two channel audio. The unit will automatically detect the incoming signal when connected to a source and display a light above each of the active inputs. This will let the user know what input is being used during the video transfer. Users with the choice of either video type should choose s-video for superior video performance. S-video has the chromanance (the modulated color) and the lumanance (the brightness level of that color) separate in the cable, making it easier to decode the color information in the video signal. The result is a picture with better color fidelity and color accuracy with no cross color artifacts due to Y/C separation.

USB Interfaces
The Video Transfer unit has a USB-A and a USB-B type connector for transferring data along with the power input connector. No USB cables are included with the unit because in most cases you will be using the cable included with your iPod, PSP or other portable drive. The unit comes with a compact universal power adapter that accepts 100-240VAC at 50/60Hz and outputs 5VDC at 1.5 amps. Currently the USB-B type connector is not used and is reserved for future use. The USB-A connector is designed to interface to a number of USB drives including iPods, PSPs, flash drives and hard drives. As long as the connected external device displays a blue status light on the Video Transfer unit, you are good to go.

Operation
The top of the Video Transfer unit has a Record (REC) button and a Mode (MODE) button. The record button starts or stops the recording process. The Mode button powers the unit ON or OFF and also selects the recording video quality. Pressing the Mode button for more than a second turns the unit off. When a video source is connected to the unit, indicators illuminate above the input jacks for the corresponding audio and video signals. Once detected, the input lights turn blue. This tells the user that the unit has recognized the input signals. In our case, we connected the s-video and left and right audio cables to the unit. The next step is to plug a USB memory device into the unit. In our tests we connected a Kingston 2GB flash drive into the Video Transfer unit. Upon inserting the memory into the Video Transfer unit the corresponding memory light flashes red as it checks the connected device. Once the Video Transfer recognized the flash drive, the light turns blue. At this point the Video Transfer is ready to capture video and the user can select the record quality by tapping on the Mode button. Briefly pressing the Mode button cycles through one (good), two (better), and three (best) lights indicating the unit's recording quality mode. Pressing the REC button initiates the recording and all indicators turn red on the Video Transfer unit. The memory stick's built-in light begins to flash indicating that it is receiving data.

Once we captured the video we wanted, we again pressed the REC button to stop the recording process. The unit takes a few seconds to close out the recorded file, so the user must wait until the USB indicator light on the Video Transfer unit turns blue again. In our test case the video file was named VID00001.MP4 and placed into a folder named VIDEO. Each file added to the same directory increments the number in the filename (i.e. VID00002.MP4, VID00003.MP4, etc.) Since the Video Transfer unit has no way of knowing the current date, the file date and time will not be correct.

So what about recording onto other portable media players not mentioned in the manual such as the Archos 605 Wi-Fi? We decided to plug it in and test it. Within a few seconds the status light on the Video Transfer unit turned blue indicating it was recognized. We recorded a few minutes of video and it looked absolutely beautiful on this unit. There were some noticeable de-interlacing artifacts on fast scenes, but overall the picture resolution and color fidelity were exceptional. Whenever possible we recommend using the highest quality recording mode to minimize video degradation, even at the cost of memory.

Conclusion
Pinnacle Video Transfer offers a whole new approach to capturing video content from other sources and is available with an MSRP of $130. No longer is a PC or laptop required for the task of capturing your favorite video. The Video Transfer system offers users flexible recording quality with a simple push of a button. Pinnacle's Video Transfer is by far the cheapest and simplest solution we have seen and the video quality is terrific. The unit also makes it easy to capture video on an iPod, PSP or other portable media player and take it on the road. In addition, iPod and Archos users will have the added benefit of charging the media player while connected to the unit. Users are no longer required to have a multi-step process to getting video on their portable devices thanks to Pinnacle's Video Transfer product.

- Kevin Nakano







OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts



Review - At a Glance


Pinnacle Systems - Video Transfer



Key Features

  • PC-less capture of your video to an iPod, PSP, USB 2.0 hard drive or USB Flash Stick.
  • One-touch start/stop recording from any video source including a TV, DVD player, PVR, camcorder, set-top box or gaming console.
  • High-quality MPEG-4 encoding in H.264 at up to 720x480/576 (NTSC/PAL) resolution*.
  • Multiple capture options for mobile devices, full-screen PC and even video editing or DVD burning.*
  • S-Video, composite video and stereo audio analogue inputs.
  • Compact size makes it perfect for traveling.
  • Recharges iPod battery during video transfer (cable not included).

Technical Specifications

Inputs Connectors

  • Composite Video: 1xRCA (PAL-SECAM-NTSC)
  • S-Video: 1xY/C (PAL-SECAM-NTSC)
  • Stereo Audio: 2xRCA

Capture Format

  • H.264 (MPEG-4)

USB Output (devices not included)

  • Sony™ PSP® (firmware version 2.81 or higher)
  • Apple® iPod® Video, Nano and Classic (FAT32 only, firmware version 1.2.1 or higher) iPod Touch and iPhone are supported via iTunes
  • USB2.0 Hard Disk Drive (FAT16/32 only)
  • Flash Memory Stick USB 2.0, (FAT16/32 only). Video quality dependent on stick data rate.

Package Contents

  • Pinnacle Video Transfer Hardware
  • Audio/Video cable 3 x RCA
  • Power supply unit (110v-230v)
  • Quick Start Guide

Company Information
Pinnacle Systems
A division of Avid Technology, Inc.
280 North Bernardo Avenue
Mountain View, California 94043

Phone: 650-526-1600
Fax: 650-526-1601

Website: http://www.pinnaclesys.com

Source: Manufacture Supplied
MSRP: $129.99


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