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Review: Pinnacle Video Transfer system

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The Pinnacle Video Transfer is a $99 device that promises easy one-touch recording to a myriad of devices including USB memory sticks and external hard drives as well as direct recording to the Sony PSP and iPod Video, Nano, and Classic devices.

In short, it’s super easy and it works well.

Pinnacle Video Transfer

Overview and Features

The Pinnacle Video Transfer system records video at up to 720×480 using the H.264 codec. It’ll do 320×240 and 640×480 as well. There are composite video inputs as well as an S-Video input on one end of the device and a USB port on the other end of the device. You plug in your cables and your USB stick or external hard drive, select your quality setting, and hit record. There are only two buttons: Mode and Record.

When you’re all done recording, plug your USB drive or external drive into your computer and play your video. Easy as that.

I didn’t get a chance to try out the direct-to-device recording function as I don’t own a PSP and my iPod is an iPod Touch, which isn’t supported. The Video Transfer device will auto-sense which device you have hooked up and select the appropriate bitrates. For example, if you plug in your PSP, all quality settings will be at 320×240 resolution and run from 512 kbps to 768kbps to 1 Mbps depending on the mode you choose. If you’re using a flash drive, though, you’ll choose between 320×240, 640×480, and 720×480.

Pros

The Pinnacle Video Transfer device is really, really, really easy to use. It’s great for pulling stuff quickly off of your DVR and getting it on to your computer. At $99, too, it’s not all that expensive. Setup takes under a minute and you’re literally watching the video you recorded in the amount of time it takes you to plug in a USB flash drive.

Also, the video quality is quite nice. The H.264 codec does a good job of grabbing smooth, rich video over plain old RCA cables.

Cons

There’s no video throughput. So, for example, I did some videos using my Nintendo Wii but since the Wii only has one output, I had to basically split the cables from the Wii to the Video Transfer system and to my TV – otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to see what I was doing. So the device works best with video sources that have multiple outputs. My cable box goes to my TV using HDMI and I use the RCA cables to push video out to the Video Transfer box. It’s not a deal-breaker but you’ll have to rig up some extra wires to make pulling video off of your console while you’re playing.

Recommendation

If you need an easy, inexpensive way to grab video from your DVR, then the Pinnacle Video Transfer is tough to beat. If you want to be able to grab video from your next-gen console while you’re playing, then the Video Transfer is still a good choice at $99 — you’ll just need to pick up some splitters first.

Pinnacle Video Transfer [PinnacleSys.com]

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