Do I really need firewire - or will USB do ???

  JChristopher1 21:47 18 Jun 2003

I'm a novice thinking of buying a relatively cheap digital camcorder and am a little confused by the technology. What I want to be able to do is :
? Film my baby
? Transfer the video to my PC, and maybe do some very basic editing etc
? Transfer the edited footage to CD-R or keep it on my hard-drive - I'm not particularly bothered about being able to transfer edited footage back to the camcorder (so I'm guessing I don't really need firewire-in but only out ?)

My PC doesn't have a firewire card installed - but I do have a free USB (1.1 rather than 2.0) port. OK, I know from what I've read that this wouldn't necessarily be a problem as I could install a firewire card - but do I really need one to be able to dump video to my hard drive if I can do it via USB ?

My question is - can I dump video to my hard drive via USB with the same quality as a transfer via firewire would give me ? I've read conflicting opinions about this. I'm tempted to go for a camcorder (thinking of the Sony DCR-TRV245E) with USB-out and firewire-out, and see how I get on as I can always get a firewire card later on. Is this a good idea - or am I completely more ignorant than I think ?


  JChristopher1 21:59 18 Jun 2003

Sorry - forgot to mention - I have a video card with S-video input. If this likely to be of any use, or will I lose so much quality I may as well forget it ?

  jazzypop 22:11 18 Jun 2003

USB 1 vs firewire? Definitely Firewire, on grounds of speed (data transfer) alone.

See click here for one article - type 'video transfer usb vs firewire' into Google for a whole lot more information.

Dabs do an internal firewire card (2 port) for about £11, and a 3-port version with a copy of Pinnacle SE for £18, from memory.

  Totally-braindead 22:24 18 Jun 2003

I'm not 100% sure if USB even USB 2.0 is capable of downloading the video files. Since you tell me the camcorder has a USB output then perhaps it is possible although this could be for stills. As jazzypop says there is no comparison between Firewire and USB, I'd forget the svideo and get a Firewire card they won't break the bank.

  temp003 05:46 19 Jun 2003

Can't find any English site on your model (245), but can find the 240 and 250.

On the 240 and 250, the USB connection is for USB streaming. It's really meant for transferring low quality, short clips (like using the camcorder as the equivalent of a web cam), for which the slow speed of USB 1 transfer may just do. It is not intended to replace the firewire.

Agree with the postings above that for transferring your usual video with decent quality, the USB 1 will simply not do. If you need to transfer the video to the PC, you really need a firewire card.

  JChristopher1 21:23 20 Jun 2003

Jazzypop, Totally-braindead and Temp_003 - thanks very mcuh for your replies, I'm now clear that firewire is the way to go.

A couple of more embarrassingly simple questions though :
i) How do I know if I have the room to fit a firewire card - ie how do I know if I have a free PCI slot ?
ii) How easy is a firewire card to fit ?

  Altair 22:08 20 Jun 2003

You need a firewire for definite, its easy to fit as they come as a pci card and you need some software to edit your video and don't fit it too close to a graphics card as it could distort the download. Most computers will have a spare pci slot, just slot it in, firmly, reboot your computer and it will be assigned a port and come up in device manager as Texas Instrument ieee 1394, if I can do it then you can.

  jazzypop 22:11 20 Jun 2003

You will need to take the case off of your PC. You should be able to do this with all of the cables left connected (but turn the PC off first).

Look inside the PC, and you will see a row of long thin white sockets - these are your PCI slots. You will probably have a few small circuit boards (expansion cards) occupying some of these slots. These expansion cards will have cables coming from them, such as a modem cable, sound/speaker cables etc.

If you have a vacant white slot, you have a spare PCI slot.

Fitting instructions come with the PCI card, but it is basically a case of pushing the firewire card into an empty PCI slot (firmly), replacing the case, and starting the PC. Windows will 'discover' the firewire card, and either install the drivers for it automatically, or prompt you to insert the supplied CD containing the drivers (this assumes you have XP).

Your motherboard manual will also have instructions for fitting a PCI card. It may sound nerve-wracking, but it really is simplicity itself.

  temp003 09:22 21 Jun 2003

Another thing, though it's unlikely to be a problem. Firewire is supported only in Windows 98 second edition or later. Windows 98 or earlier OS cannot support firewire.

  JChristopher1 17:35 21 Jun 2003

Thanks all - I'm clear on things now - does sound nice and easy. (Mind you, that's what I said to my wife about fitting the B&Q kitchen - haa haa... got there in the end though).

Cheers for your help.

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