You use a video capture card to get analog video from a camcorder or VCR onto your computer (that is, to digitize the video) or to transfer video from a digital camcorder to your computer. Consumer video capture cards cost between $200 and $1,000. Several types of external video capture devices cost about $200 or less. Many cards bundle video editing software with the hardware.
1. Read reviews in computer and video magazines and on the Internet to narrow your choices.
2. Compare features of any bundled video editing programs.
3. Consider a multipurpose video card to save money.
4. Look for a card with S-VHS quality for better video, or a FireWire (IEE1394) port if you will be using a digital camcorder.
5. Compare the audio and video inputs and outputs on the cards. Look for an S-video jack if you will be using video hardware with S-video input or output.
6. Find out the transfer rates of cards under consideration. Expect to pay more for faster cards.
7. Compare the capture resolution and color-depth capabilities of cards.
8. See if the card allows you to transfer digitized video back to your camcorder or VCR, so you can watch your edited movies on TV.
9. Consider external devices such as the Iomega Buz, with SCSI card; composite and S-video in and out jacks; stereo audio in and out jacks; and full-screen playback.
10. Consider a Pinnacle Studio series product for software-controlled video editing without video capture.
11. Consider an external device such as a Snappy video digitizer for still-image (only) capture.