About Video Capture Cards

About Video Capture Cards

A video capture card is a computer peripheral that lets you watch or record television programming on your personal computer and can also be used to save those old home movie memories from dusty VHS tapes onto your hard drive. Video capture cards have a variety of input and output types and can be used with just about any kind of computer.

Function

Video capture cards are designed to give your personal computer the ability to stream video directly from a television source so that you can either watch television programming instantly or record the show and play it back at a later time. They also have a secondary function of transferring video to your computer’s hard drive from external sources such as a VHS tape or older camcorders that don’t have modern digital outputs.

Features

You can use a video capture card to bypass the need for a television set to receive certain cable, satellite or HDTV signals directly to your home computer. With the correct software installed you can also use a video capture card to transfer old VHS recordings onto CD or DVD format so that your home videos or recorded television programs can still be viewed with newer equipment.

Types

Most video capture cards are “Plug and Play” devices that are connected directly to your computer‘s USB port and then used externally. Some older cards are internal devices which have to be manually installed into your computer’s AGP, PCI, or PCI Express card slot. Video capture cards also have different input methods for receiving video such as a Firewire cable or a standard RCA plug that a television uses. Different cards will also have different speed ratings that will indicate how quickly they are able to transfer video from an external source to your computer.

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Considerations

Special software is required to save video to your computer in addition to having the video capture card installed. You may have to purchase the software separately if it was not already included with the card. Be careful when recording any type of video and burning it to a DVD or CD as most movies and television shows are protected by copyright laws.

Misconceptions

Video capture cards only work in one direction and do not allow for the transfer of video from your home computer to your television set. You will need a television with an S-Video jack along with a graphics card and an S-Video cable to be able to send information from your computer to your TV.