Warning: No PC connectivity

First of all, I would like to thank all the readers who responded to last week’s column about my RAM woes.

To recap as briefly as possible, I own a two-year-old computer and had been unable to buy any extra memory for it for less than about R2200 per gigabyte anywhere in the country. Readers sent in many excellent suggestions and offers of help which, I’m sure would have had me sorted in no time at all.

Before last week’s paper had been printed, however, my sister in Australia got in touch to say that she had managed to track down some of the right memory and would bring it out for me when she visits later this month.

The bile on my spleen began to recede and I was almost back to serenity when the curse of the electronics manufacturers struck again. I was handed a video camera, with all its gubbins, and asked to figure out how it worked and teach the teen who would then teach her mother.

I couldn’t imagine any teen with that sort of patience but, never mind, I thought I’d enjoy fiddling with the thing anyway. It turned out to be a Sony DVD605; a cute little number which the book describes as a digital video camera recorder.

I was getting rapidly more enthusiastic as I unpacked everything and started charging the battery and reading the manual. I found that the camera had a mode called Easy Handycam which makes it really, erm, easy to take video and still pictures and record them onto a DVD disk.

I recorded a couple of scenes and had no difficulty, after remembering to switch the TV to VCR mode, to play them back on it. I’m no expert but the sound and picture looked good to me and my head was filling with visions of myself editing my masterpieces on my computer and being the next Steven Spielberg.

Thinks: ‘Hmmm. I wonder how I get the video onto my computer and I wonder where the disc, with the nice video editing program mentioned in the manual, is?’

What I discovered after a re-read of the manual is that, with this camera, there is no provision for transferring the video to your computer to edit it. There is no cable, no software and, as the final capper, not even a jack on the camera that could be used for an optional cable.

The manual covers seven models of camera and it does specify which models have which features, but the type is small and you can easily miss the point if you’re not careful. I fiddled with the camera, manual in hand, for two sessions before I realised that there was no provision for a computer connection.

I wonder how many people have bought the product and not even considered the possibility that Sony might sell them a digital video camera recorder that can’t be connected to a PC. It may not worry some buyers, but I reckon that there’ll be a fair percentage who will later regret their choice of camera.

The moral of the story is that you should be careful if you’re buying a video camera over Christmas. Check very carefully that it’ll do all you want it to do, before you part with your bonus.

Why not leave a comment if you know how get video off of a DVD for editing. Would a video capture card do the trick or would it degrade the signal too much?


8 thoughts on “Warning: No PC connectivity

  1. Howzit Allan – You sound about my vintage what with Goon Show and all ! I’ve been using computers since 1982 and taught myself to program with Basic. Unfortunately, there were some bright people out there who kept writing programs faster than I could learn and that has left me here at 65 with more than the usual knowledge to enable me to use, fix, install and write simple VB programs etc but don’t start with all the modern cliches etc coz I won’t know what your on about. Actually I think these young yuppies have simply mastered the art of “Bullshit baffling Brains !”
    However – getting back to this Sundays article – does the Sony Camera have removable DVD disks ? If so – simply use these in your PC and record/edit from them directly. If not – throw it in the bin where it belongs !



    PS Keep up the articles – always a good read !

  2. Thanks for the kind words Hank. The camera does record onto DVDs. Any recommendations on software to use to read the video off of the disc and edit it?

    Learning Basic in 1982? I started about then using an Apple ][+ but didn’t make the jump to VB when I found that my brain didn’t have the capacity. I have since done a bit of ASP scripting; a bit being the operative word.

  3. Hi Allan My name is trevor and I dabble a bit with video.what you need is software not hardware,Pinnacle Studio 10,Adobe Premire Elements 2 will both do the trick unfortunatley they are both quite costly.There are cheaper software packages available but it depends on what you want to achieve.Try Ulead website.Good luck

  4. Although you did not explicitly say, I assume you can read DVDs on your PC; if not, I would buy a DVD-writer.

    I have the following:

    PowerProducer that came with my LG DVD-writer; it allows editting DVD->DVD

    Nero 7 Premium which does similar.

    VirtualDub (Excellent free AVI editor). AVI is original PC video format. Also have free converter program DVD->AVI.

    Depends really on what end result you want.

    Give me an email at soduktile on gmail. I’m in Durbs, so if you want the free software, you could get a copy from me, or I could give you the URLs for downloads. The converter is pretty basic command line stuff but it works!

    Capture card would work but with quality loss.

    You will also want to go the DVD-RW route; the 8cm DVD-Rs are ridiculously priced – not that the RWs are cheap, but at least you can reuse them.

  5. Hi Allen
    After reading your column in the SM Mag, today, 3 Dec i feel the need to respond on 2 issues.
    Firstly the RAM issue;
    I know you prob have had a lot of feedback on this but your queries should have resulted in you being advised to just purchase DDR 400 ram that will downscale to 333 in your application!!
    This the most obvious route and so i dont really understand the big fuss!
    My query is why you did not mention this in todays column !!
    I am sure this would have been welcomed by your readers. Why did you not list the poss solutions!!!
    I only buy the Tribune fot the ONLINE section. As an engineer / technician i wish for accurate and informing information.

    Ok, having said that, you go on to talk about the Videocamera – You clearly state that it RECORDS TO DVD !
    Well why would you need a DV out and cable for transdfer and editing when you can just put the disk into the PC to do all that !!!???
    The VOB file can be imported into any of many available editing S/W

    Anyone reading this who knows this obvious fact will think you are silly!
    Sorry but i really needeed to tell you that!

    Ps i do realise that a lot of pc’s still only have CD drives
    but in all probability if you are purchacing an expensive camcorder like this you will have a PC with at least a DVD/CD Combo drive

    I have enjoyed all you previous columns

    Compliments of the season
    Best Regards

  6. Hi Allan
    Another point:
    The link for tbis site is printed wrongly in the paper as “allen-fishnet.blogspot.com”
    This happened last week as well!!



  7. Thanks for your comments Mitch. I’m sorry if you think that not knowing something you know makes me sound silly. I have been actively interested in computing since the early 1980s and I’m afraid I still didn’t know. What chance, then, has the average buyer got, especially when the manual is so obscure? My last sentence asks for information, which you have been kind enough provide.

  8. Not that Allan needs any help in scribbling all over Mitch’s sabre, but I do want to add my two cents worth. Allan, while using specific examples, points out the arrogance of the marketing and after sales in the consumer electronics industry.
    The example of unavailability of expansion RAM on two year old equipment could be translated to many other examples. In fact substituting DDR400 memory may also not work in all cases; it is highly dependant on the motherboard, and who still has the motherboard details after two years, assuming you got them in the first place.
    The complaint about the Sony camera not having PC connectivity is also not a new one; I recall reading a review in PC PLus (Future Publishing) a few years ago about a tape DV camera needing an add-on cable costing 30% of the camera cost. In the DVD case, what if you only have a laptop with CD or CD-writer?

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