Which Pinnacle Dazzle?

Digital Video Creator DVC 50 and DVC 80

Circuit board photos by Brad (videohelp.com)
ZR36504 data sheet (by Zoran Corporation, 1999)

Digital Video Creator DVC 85 and DVC 90

DVC 100, DVC 130, DVC 170

DVD Recorder (DVC 100)

The red DVC 100 followed the path blazed by the DVC 85 and DVC 90. It includes a Philips chip for digitizing analog video and an Empia chip for sending it over USB. Another Empia chip handles audio.

Circuit board photo by Sergey Merkov (ixbt.com)

Video Creator (DVC 130)

The blue DVC 130 is a completely different animal. It digitizes analog video and compresses it into MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. Unlike the DVC 50 and DVC 80, which use compression to squeeze video data into the narrow USB 1.0 bandwidth, the DVC 130 employs hardware compression to relieve capturing program from doing it. This allows using a less powerful computer for video capture and saves time, because the encoded data is saved directly into a file that can be burned to a DVD or uploaded to YouTube.

Circuit board photo by Sergey Merkov (ixbt.com)

Video Creator Platinum (DVC 170)

The platinum DVC 170 is almost identical to the DVC 130 except for the added, or rather unlocked, support for MPEG-4 hardware encoding. Video can be compressed with MPEG-1, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 codec and is saved directly into a resulting file without extra processing.

Circuit board photo by Sergey Merkov (ixbt.com)

DVC 101, DVC 103, DVC 107

After releasing red Dazzle DVD Recorder (the DVC 100), Pinnacle offered an updated white version, Dazzle DVD Recorder Plus, model number DVC 101. Then Pinnacle marketing department went completely off the rails, mixing and matching names (DVD Recorder vs. Video Creator), suffixes (Plus, Platinum, HD) and colors, so judging model number and technical capabilities by name and color became impossible. In particular, silver Dazzle Video Creator has model number DVC 103, and black Dazzle Video Creator Plus has model number DVC 107. On another hand, the black Dazzle converter that I have bears the name DVC 100 rev. 1.1.

DVCPTENAM

Pinnacle re-used black and platinum colors in other models, in particular the version currently on sale online is called Dazzle DVD Recorder HD. It is black, and does not have any model name besides generic “Dazzle USB video capture device”.

Plus, Platinum and HD

A quick note about suffixes like Plus, Platinum or HD: they identify different software packages and sometimes they are linked to hardware or software features being locked or unlocked. In particular, HD does not mean that a device can capture analog HD video — for this you need three-connector component video, not single-connector composite. HD simply means that the bundled software can work with HD video files and can render into an HD format, that is it. All of these devices are strictly standard definition.

Recap

To recap, DVC 50 and DVC 80 are old devices that employ a proprietary compression to squeeze the video stream into narrow bandwidth of first-generation USB. These devices also reduce frame size and image rate. They are completely outdated and do not work with modern operating systems anyway. Avoid them like a plague.

Macrovision

Now, the juicy topic of copy protection. The encoder in the Philips chip detects ‘pseudo sync’ pulses as part of the Macrovision copy protection standard and reports the result as flag COPRO within the decoder status byte. The device does not stop digitizing video protected with Macrovision, instead it simply informs capturing software that the video is copy-protected.

SAA7113H product description (by Philips Electronics N.V., 2005)
A still frame from “Doc Hollywood” off a VHS tape

Verdict

There you have it: DVC 100, 101, 103 and 107 are the ones to have. They output uncompressed video and can handle Macrovision-protected tapes, which you can capture with free software. ■

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