With the majority of modern day video capture devices and software showing clear preference for digital camcorders, it’s refreshing to find that Canopus hasn’t forgotten about those of us with trusty old analogue equipment. So if you have a pile of analogue camcorder tapes, or perhaps even a bit of VHS, then Let’s Convert AV might be for you.
The beauty of the product is its simplicity. The core of it is Canopus’ AVDC-55 box, a simple, small and lightweight device that hooks up to a PC via FireWire. The bonus of FireWire is that the box doesn’t require its own power supply – most convenient.
The FireWire port, and a series of dip-switches that controls the likes of video format and audio levels, are found on one edge of the box, with connectors for S-Video In, Video-In and left and right Audio-In on the other. Getting it up and running is a matter of hooking everything up and installing the CD of software.
On that disc you’ll find a copy of the Let’s Convert software, as well as NeroVision Express and assorted Codecs. The Let’s Convert package is simplicity itself. It defaults to a small corner of your desktop, making visible the controllers for video destination, quality and time. A couple of clicks to set these to your preference, and then you just hit the Start button to begin your capture – even the preview window is optional here. A bit of right clicking does uncover some more sophisticated options, but don’t expect many. This is a program that delights in keeping things straightforward.
Once your footage is captured, the program – depending on where you decided to send your video files – will set about putting them in their proper place, and that’s pretty much it.
At first glance, it seems quite a limited package for the best part of £200. But the proof is in the results. We dug out some particularly dated old camcorder footage, and the quality of the capture – in spite of a bit of stuttering during the capture process – was as strong as we could realistically expect. The process doesn’t improve on the source material in any way, but nor does it inject any further flaws. It simply, accurately and succinctly takes your analogue footage and, as promised, converts it to a digital format.
Which makes the package a bit of an oddity to assess. Sure, it does precisely as it promises, but we’d have preferred to see a more substantial software package to take advantage of the footage once captured. It’s no small price tag to many consumers, and it would have been preferable that such an amount included a few more tools to set you on your way.
However, there’s a definite market out there for those storing way too many analogue tapes and looking for a simple, effective way to get them transferred. This is a suitable candidate. For Let’s Convert AV is as straightforward and uncomplicated as the process could possibly be, producing quality results at the end of it all. And, we suspect, that’s going to be music to many user’s ears.