ADS Tech VideoXpress
Analog USB 2.0 video capture device
By John Virata
ADS Tech has released VideoXpress, a device that enables you to capture analog video from an analog source that supports RCA and S-Video inputs and edit it in your computer with a simple editing tool. The company is targeting it at those who don't have the time or inclination to learn a complex editing tool, and don't want to spend a lot of money, as the product is priced at $69.99.
ADS VideoXpress connects to your computer's USB 2.0 port, and captures video at up to the standard 720 x 480 NTSC resolution and 720 x 576 PAL. It can capture and convert the video to AVI, compressed AVI, MPEG-1, and Windows Media Video. In addition to capturing video, VideoXpress enables you to grab video still snapshots from your video.
Supported Video Resolution
- Video Resolution: NTSC: 176 x 144, 320 x 240, 352 x 240, 640 x 480, 704 x 480, 720 x 480 PAL: 176 x 144, 320 x 240, 352 x 288, 640 x 480, 704 x 576, 720 x 576
- Video Preview: Frames per second: 25 (PAL), 30 (NTSC), 60 Still Frame capture - Interlaced or De-Interlaced
- Compression formats: AVI, Windows Media Video, Real Video, MPEG-1, VCD
While the idea here is to minimize the editing process, ADS does ship editing tools with the device, if for anything to capture the video. VideoXPress ships with two main editing applications, Ulead Video Studio 8 SE, which includes a Movie Wizard and muvee autoProducer 3.1 CE, a handy video application that enables you to create movies without having to edit your videos. Also shipping in the package is the Instant VideoXpress USB 2.0 Video Grabber, an application that enables you to grab video stills from your camcorder fairly easily.
VideoXpress requires a 2GHz CPU or faster running Windows XP Home or Professional, 256MB RAM, 600MB hard disk space for application installation and 4GB or more disk space for video capture, open USB 2.0 port, graphics set at 1024 x 768, sound card CD/DVD burner.
Using the VideoXpress
I installed the ADS VideoXpress hardware via the instructional quick start guide. This is the hard copy documentation that ships in the package. It is a fold out poster that has the basic instructions to get up and running. Installation involved installing the drivers for the device and plugging the device into the free USB port on my AMD Athlon XP 3000+ CPU-based computer, plugging the composite cable that shipped with my DV camera into the device and launching VideoStudio 8 SE. (side note: If you have a DV camera with a non-functioning IEEE 1394 port, like my Sony DCR TRV11, the VideoXpress device may be a good choice to extract video from your DV camera). VideoStudio 8 SE enables you to work directly with the video via a timeline or storyboard, which involves editing, or you can choose to go the Movie Wizard route, which minimizes the editing process.
If you are new to video editing on the computer, and have older analog video devices such as a camcorder or VCR, ADS VideoXpress will work to get your old video into a digital format. It is easy enough to figure out, as there is no tinkering involved inside the computer because the device is USB 2.0 based. It ships with cables to connect to VCRs and perhaps older camcorders with the full size composite connections. To connect via S-Video you'll have to supply your own cable. If your device supports composite via its own proprietary cable such as my five year old Sony DCR-TRV11), you'll have to use that cable instead of the supplied cable. I think a bit more instruction would help out, or at least a note referring to the video editing software as the primary source for acquiring the video. I spent the first five minutes trying to figure out how to grab the video with the somewhat misleadingly named VideoGrabber, because I thought that was what was used to capture video. Read the QuickStart guide to avoid this.
|muvee autoProducer is the cool application in the package|
Documentation is sparse, and some folks might not have the know how with regard to the power needed to capture, edit and store video. A small hard copy manual might mitigate this. VideoGrabber is an excellent tool to grab stills from your videos, which you can then use in a slideshow presentation or perhaps as a button in your DVD menu creation.
The included software rounds out the package. While Ulead's VideoStudio 8SE is a solid limited edition editing tool, the real fun is with the muvee autoProducer 3.1 CE. This is really fun software to use, as you just pick a video clip, choose music from your library, choose a theme, and the software does the rest, placing transitions in strategic cuts that it determines without any user input. Pretty neat stuff. The catch though is you first must capture your video via VideoStudio and the VideoXpress hardware, because autoProducer doesn't support analog capture devices, rather, it supports IEEE 1394 or FireWire devices. Overall, the ADS VideoXpress is a neat tool for those who do have access to analog source material. If you've got a DV camera, you can still capture via composite or S-video provided your camera supports those formats, but why would you want to? For more information, visit www.adstech.com