At a Glance
Canopus's ADVC-100 is a small box used for converting video from VHS, camcorder, or other analog sources to DV-format digital video on your hard drive. Once the video is there, you can edit it and create DVDs or QuickTime movies to send to friends and family, or you can export it back to analog tape. The ADVC-100 isn't a professional-level video-capture card (see our review of video-capture cards, elsewhere in this issue ), but it gets the job done well, and pros will likely find a use for it.
The ADVC-100 joins a host of similar products, including Dazzle Multimedia's $300 Hollywood DV-Bridge, Formac's $399 Studio, and Miglia's (formerly Power R's) $400 Director's Cut (see "Analog-to-DV Converters," Reviews, August 2001 [Sony has discontinued its DVMC-DA2 Media Converter]).
Like most products in its category, the ADVC-100 has a simple design. On the front of the unit, you'll find composite RCA inputs for video and stereo audio, as well as an S-Video port for higher-quality video transfer, a four-pin FireWire connector (a four-pin-to-six-pin cable is included), and an input-selection button for switching between analog and digital inputs. On the back are similar connectors for output: a six-pin FireWire port, a 1/8-inch minijack audio input, and an additional S-Video input, as well as the power input and the power switch.
As with other converters, you don't need drivers to use the ADVC-100. When you fire up a video-editing program such as iMovie or Final Cut Pro in either OS 9 or OS X, the software recognizes the box as if it were a camera from which you'd be importing video.
We tested the ADVC-100 by capturing video from several VHS tapes and via the analog-out port of a TiVo, and each resulting DV stream was true to its original. And because the ADVC-100 can work with the NTSC and PAL video standards, it's suitable for use in the United States and abroad.
Another nice feature of the ADVC-100 is its ability to capture locked audio, which ensures that your audio and video stay in sync. To change options such as NTSC or PAL, locked audio, and the default input mode, you move the six DIP switches on the bottom of the unit. Though these switches are awkward to use, they control settings that don't need to be changed too often and reduce the chance that you will accidentally change options when moving the box, as you might with button controls.
Macworld's Buying Advice
The ADVC-100 delivers high-quality DV output and a nice feature set at the lowest price in its category. But if all you need is to convert video from analog to digital (not back again), and if you have a spare PCI slot in your Mac, it may be worth looking at Canopus's similar (and lower-priced) offering, the $199 ADVC-50.