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Now showing in the bargain basement: XLR8's InterView, the least-expensive video-capture device we've ever tested. Retailing for just $99, the InterView comprises USB video-capture hardware and the full version of Strata's VideoShop video-editing program. It's an amazing value, although we encountered glitches when trying to capture video with programs other than VideoShop.
Compared with Avid Technology's $299 Avid Cinema for Macintosh with USB (see Reviews, August 1999), the InterView hardware is far smaller, resembling a black butane lighter with three cables attached to it. One of the cables connects to the Mac's USB port, and the other two connect to S-Video and composite-video sources. Like Avid Cinema, the InterView captures video only, relying on the Mac's built-in audio circuitry to capture sound.
The InterView is a bit more finicky than Avid Cinema where system software is concerned, requiring Mac OS 8.6. Like Avid Cinema, the InterView requires Apple's latest USB firmware and includes the necessary installers for updating older iMacs.
For capturing and editing video, the InterView includes Strata's $495 VideoShop 4.5. (You also get a scaled-down version of AirWorks' TuneBuilder, which builds custom-length music soundtracks in a variety of styles.) There's only one catch: rather than getting printed manuals for VideoShop, you instead have to click your way through Adobe Acrobat files to learn the program. But stillsuch a deal.
Using VideoShop's Capture window, we were able to grab crisp video at a window size of 320 by 240 pixels and a frame rate of 30 fps. (Avid Cinema captures at the identical frame size and rate.) You can also grab 640-by-480-pixel still images. VideoShop is far more powerful than Avid Cinema's software, packing more effects and editing features, but it's also a lot harder to learn and use. And unlike Avid Cinema, VideoShop can't export in RealVideo G2 format, so moviemakers wanting to publish in this popular Web video format will need additional software.
The InterView captured smoothly with VideoShop, but we encountered crashes and visual glitches when using other QuickTime capture tools, such as Web-cam software. XLR8 acknowledges incompatibilities with some QuickTime-based software and says the InterView 1.1 driver, due out by the time you read this, will fix the problem.
If you're just getting started with digital video and you'd prefer some hand-holding, Avid Cinema may be a better USB capture system. But if you're on a tight budget and you're willing to read on-screen manuals instead of printed ones, InterView deserves a look. There's no cheaper way to get video into a USB-equipped Mac.
RATING: PROS: Inexpensive; powerful software. CONS: No printed manual for VideoShop; can't export in RealSystem G2 format; incompatible with some QuickTime software. COMPANY: XLR8 (888/957-8867, http://www.xlr8.com ). LIST PRICE: $99.
October 1999 page: 46