Reader How Tos: A System To Convert VHS and 8 mm Tape To DVD

The DVD Burner Drive

After a conversation with my friend who has had a Pioneer DVR-A03 for more than a year now, I decided to go with Pioneer's newest drive: the DVR-A04, a 2X DVD-R/-RW. Why? It was cheaper, and it almost guaranteed me a greater probability of backwards compatibility than the DVD+R/+RW drive, the bugs were more likely to have been worked out, and it offered better software/ driver support.

I had selected the DVD drive I wanted; now I needed a system to support that drive. The DVD drive had a high-sustained data rate, and indeed, it is 2.7 MB/s, which, on the surface, doesn't seem all that high. But to sustain that rate over a 4.7 GB write operation might be a bit of a challenge for a slower system (<1 GHz processor with an ATA-33 interface). The Pioneer DVR-A04 drive has a 2 MB buffer, which should be sufficient to prevent underruns in most systems. But, still, I wanted that fast system.

The Large, Fast Hard Disk

The next thing I looked at was the hard disk. I had already read some good reviews of the Western Digital 120 GB hard disk with its 8 MB buffer. It has an ATA-100 interface, a rotation speed of 7200 RPM, and a 9 MS seek time. All in all, it was quite a good choice. But what about ATA-133 and Serial ATA? Well, the only manufacturer to offer ATA-133 is Maxtor, with its model 4G160J8, a 160 GB hard disk with a rotation speed of 5400 RPM and a 9.6 MS average seek time. On the other hand, Serial ATA has not been introduced yet, and I needed a large, high-speed hard disk now. I honestly wondered what the difference was, data movement-wise, between the Western Digital and the Maxtor in a real world test. Although the Maxtor 4G160J8 can move data through its interface at 133 MB/s, it can only move data to and from its media at a rate of 43.4 MB/s. On the other hand, the Western Digital has a maximum throughput of 100 MB/s on its interface, and a 65.625 MB/s data rate to and from its media. The Maxtor has a 2 MB buffer, whereas the Western Digital has an 8 MB buffer.

I chose the Maxtor drives simply because they were larger, and I bought two of them because I wanted plenty of space to store video clips. (A week after I made my decision, Western Digital introduced a 180 GB drive with an ATA-100 interface and a rotation speed of 7200 RPM. Rats! I just missed it! But, that's what it is all about in the computer world, isn't it?)

Video Capture/ Edit Tools

Dell Computer offered the Dazzle Digital Video Creator, but what else was on the market? Pinnacle Systems offered Studio Deluxe. Two of my friends were using the Pinnacle Systems and praised it for its ease of use and reasonable price. I had heard of Pinnacle Systems for quite some time now, so I decided to purchase the Studio Deluxe package because it handles both analog and digital video capture and editing. The editing section allows you to arrange your video clips, and to add titles and scene transitions into your video project. It also outputs video to tape or in .AVI, MPEG1, or streaming format.