There’s a refreshing simplicity at the heart of Pinnacle’s Studio MovieBox USB that makes it a product worthy of consideration. It’s also testament to how far computer-based video editing has come, and how – in the hands of even a novice user – impressive results can be generated.
This particular product comes in two parts. There’s the hardware itself and then a very strong software package on top of it. The former is a box of tricks just slightly larger the surface area of a CD case, and around three times as deep, that comes replete with a smart metallic finish (“Design by F.A. Porsche”, it boasts on its surface, and we’re not going to disagree).
On one edge are the input connections, on another are the output equivalents. These include composite and S-video connectors, and a cable for the latter is included in with the package. The unit, as its name suggests, connects to the PC via a standard USB lead. On our first test machine, this didn’t all quite go to plan, with the PC not picking up the hardware and causing a bit of messing around with one of the bundled CDs to get things up and running. The second machine didn’t give us a murmur of trouble, however.
Once up and running, the package is as easy to use as you’d want it to be. The supplied software is the excellent Pinnacle Studio 8, and while it’s a program that does place limits on what the experienced user can do, for the majority of people it will suffice, often helping you to complete tasks. Once you’ve hooked up your video source – be it camcorder or VHS – you’re then free to capture your footage. Studio 8 takes things further, allowing you to edit and shape your captured movies before output. The software handles this side of things too, and in conjunction with the MovieBox, you can easily share your masterpieces through a video cassette. Alternatively you have the option to burn them to DVD and CD.
There’s one important point of note before we career towards the conclusion. The MovieBox USB is designed only for analogue capture, and thus more modern-day digital camcorder users will find it of little use (suffice to say the product is, however, also available in a more expensive DV flavour). But for bringing in footage from older camcorders, or from video cassette, it’s one of the easiest-to-use products of its ilk on the market.
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