Product Review (February 2003) - Belkin
Hi Speed USB 2.0 DVD Creator

Video capture is rather commonplace with today's digital video products. IEEE-1394 (iLink) interfaces are widely used by consumers to capture video onto PCs for editing and recording. However, many of us have older analog video recordings that we would like to store in a digital format. As DVD recorders drop in price, many consumers are seeing this as an excellent way to archive old content. Since existing analog video is vulnerable to degradation over time, digitizing the old tapes is one way to ensure longevity. Belkin Corporation, known for many PC support products, has a new video capture system called the Hi Speed USB DVD Creator. For just under $90, consumers can capture and edit analog video and make it completely compatible with current digital formats. Video is captured at a full 30 frames per second at resolutions of 352x288, 640x480, or 720x480 and can then be stored as MPEG or AVI files. Once converted, the data can be played on a PC or recorded to CD or DVD media. There are a couple of key requirements for this system to work properly. First, all audio must be handled by the PC's existing sound card. An audio adapter is provided to convert two female RCA jacks to an 1/8" stereo plug. This allows a standard pair of RCA cables to interface directly to the line-in inputs on the sound card.

Setup
Our current PC (Sony Vaio PCV-RX550) that was used to test the Hi-Speed USB DVD Creator did not have the latest USB 2.0 interface built in to the system, but instead the slower USB 1.1 found in most of today's older computers. Belkin was nice enough to supply us with their latest high speed USB 2.0 5-Port PCI Card (Part Number: F5U220) for our tests. This USB 2.0 PCI card has four external ports and one internal port. Drivers are included for all current Microsoft Windows operating systems with the exception of Windows XP. In our case, we required a quick download from Microsoft's website for the latest XP driver. Based on my experience with this card I can highly recommend it for those who need USB 2.0 capability, not only because it worked great in our setup, but the 480Mbps speed exceeds our current iLink interface at a fraction of the cost. USB 2.0 is claimed to be 40 times faster than USB 1.1 and with all the new high speed products on the horizon including video cameras, scanners and portable drives, it's an inexpensive and beneficial upgrade.

Software
The Belkin High Speed USB DVD Creator kit includes the popular ULEAD software for video capture and editing. We used this software to put together our own video content and it was very easy and intuitive to use. Several video clips were assembled with titles and included selectable scene transitions for a professional look. We did run into a snag that required the latest USB 2.0 driver from the Microsoft site since our PC was not up to the latest Windows XP revision. However, once this was resolved, everything worked great.

How do they do it?
The design of the Belkin USB DVD Creator is impressive. The pod that holds the electronics looks simple with a USB connector on one side and the two video connectors on the other. The composite and s-video inputs interface to the Philips SAA7113H video decoder chip to convert the analog video into a standard digital format. The digital video then interfaces to a Cresentec DC-1100 USB 2.0 controller chip to handle the high data rate needed for streaming the uncompressed real-time video. The Philips ISP1501 USB transceiver chip interfaces directly to the USB port. All this is designed onto a card measuring about 1" x 4". This is an impressive design that gives the consumer the capability to capture real-time analog video with no frames dropped.

Summary
The Belkin High Speed USB DVD Creator is really quite an amazing deal. We found the kit provided all the necessary hardware and software to completely convert analog video with sound into any number of usable formats. Our tests produced an S-VCD that played perfectly in our Sony DVP-NS900V DVD player. While there are more powerful video capture systems available for analog sources, you'll have a tough time finding a product with this kind of performance for the dollar.
- Rita Nakano

Review System

Desktop PC - Sony Vaio PCV-RX550, 1.5GHz Pentium 4
Speaker System: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 System
Display: Viewsonic G810
21" Monitor

Review at a glance

Belkin Hi-Speed USB DVD Creator

Model: F5U228

Recommended System Requirements:

  • 1 GHz Pentium® 4 or equivalent (for DVD or VCD authoring)
  • Available Hi-Speed USB port
  • Windows® 2000 or XP
  • 128MB RAM
  • 500MB of free hard-disk space
  • CD-ROM drive
  • Sound card, speaker, microphone or line-in required for audio recording

    Source: Manufacture supplied
    MSRP: $89.99
    Warranty: Belkin Lifetime Warranty and technical support


    Belkin USB 2.0 5-Port PCI Card

    Model: F5U220
    UPC: 7-22868-36539-7

    Features:

  • Backwards compatible with USB 1.1 devices
  • 480Mbps data speed
  • Supports up to 127 Hi-Speed devices and 254 Full-Speed/Low-Speed devices from 5 ports.
  • Plug-and-Play installation
  • Belkin Lifetime Warranty and technical support

    System Requirements:

  • Pentium Class PC with Available PCI slot
  • Windows OS with USB 2.0 Support
  • Compatible with Windows® 98SE, 2000, Me, and XP

    Packaging Includes:

  • USB 2.0 Hi-speed PCI Card
  • User Manual
  • Installation CD

    Source: Manufacture supplied
    MSRP: $44.99
    Warranty: Belkin Lifetime Warranty and technical support


    Company Information
    Belkin Corporation
    501 West Walnut Street
    Compton, CA 90220
    Customer Service/Sales:
    800-2BELKIN
    800-223-5546
    Sales: 877.523.5546
    Tech Support: 310-898-1100 ext. 2263
    Fax: 310-898-1111

    URL: www.belkin.com

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