Pinnacle – Video Capture for Mac review

video capture device with software
Photo of Pinnacle – Video Capture for Mac

There are several products available to capture analogue video on the PC, but far fewer for the Mac. Pinnacle has turned its attention to this shortfall by introducing the inspiringly-named Video Capture for Mac. This hardware and software combination product is a neat solution for any Mac owner who has a collection of TV recordings or home videos on analogue tapes.

The product consists of two components: a blue and white, T-bone steak-shaped capture device and supporting software which runs under Mac OS X 10.4, or higher. Plug the connecting cable from the capture device into any USB 2 socket on your Mac – which must have 512MB of memory and a 500MHz G4 or faster processor – and connect your video camera or video recorder to its other end.

No AV cables are supplied, but the device includes both S-Video and composite inputs and separate stereo audio in, so is pretty flexible. The capture device draws all the power it needs from the USB socket, which makes it very easy to set up and use.

On the software side, Pinnacle’s capture application has be loaded on your Mac and, once this is installed and run, it asks for a filename for the converted file and then for a video input. Start your recorder or camera and a thumbnail of the video picture appears in the application’s main pane.

The conversion and compression to MPEG4 format is done in hardware, leaving the Mac’s processor to handle filing and display. The level of compression is good, so a 90-minute video takes under 2GB of disk space.

The neat part of Pinnacle Video Capture for Mac is that the video files it produces are in compressed MPEG4 format, with the correct parameters to play directly on both a Video iPod and Apple TV, so when file details are added to iTunes, the files can be downloaded directly to either device for playback. The whole process mimics the Mac’s general ease of use but – also common with some Mac applications – it’s not so attractive if you want to explore beyond the standard functions.

What you don’t get with this product is any kind of video editing software. You may want to use iMovie or Adobe Premiere, in which case what’s in the box here will be a very good fit, but it’s a shame there’s no Mac version of Pinnacle Studio which could be bundled, for those who want to convert and edit.

Company: Pinnacle

Contact: 01753 655999

This is a high-value video capture kit, ideal for converting old VHS tapes to keep a legacy archive alive and usable. It very easy to set up and use and produces videos you can take with you immediately on your iPod, or transfer to your Apple TV. You'll need extra software if you want to edit what you convert, though.