Pros: No computer required; Very simple to use.
Cons: Doesn't work with all Mpeg4 devices.
Bottomline: A fast and easy way to encode video without a PC.
Pinnacle's multi-talented Video Transfer is a tool for recording video (television or home-made DVDs, for instance) to a computer's disk.
It also provides a simple way to get home videos onto the PC. The first step is to plug in the audio and video cables from a device such as a video camera into one end and a USB memory key or external hard disk into the other (alternatively it can transfer straight to a Video iPod or other portable video player).
Then press play on the playback device and Record on the Video Transfer unit and the files will appear on the disk in MPEG-4 format. What makes the Video Transfer special, though, is its ability to do all of this without going near a computer.
There are plenty of devices that work with the computer to digitise video, but few are this small and work independently of the PC, allowing you to grab video and encode it to the storage device of your choice anywhere there's a mains outlet. We were sceptical from the outset of Pinnacle's claim that the process was as simple as 'Press and Go'.
So to test that out, we connected both our TV (using the supplied Scart cable) and a Video iPod to the device's USB socket. To our surprise, recording a television programme to the iPod really was as simple as plugging the Video Transfer into the mains, connecting the cables and pressing Record. Within minutes of doing this we were watching the news on the iPod.
We also tested the video-encoding feature by attaching a USB hard disk and a USB memory key. The process worked equally well on both. Pressing the Mode button cycles through three quality settings – the lower-quality settings use up less hard disk space than the Best mode. The highest resolution is 720x576 pixels, which provides picture quality good enough for full-screen viewing on a PC.
The Video Transfer has three phono-type sockets and an s-video input for connecting a video device. There are also two USB sockets for storage devices. This quick and simple tool, while a touch on the expensive side, provides an excellent way of transferring video to a computer.