The Digital Video Creator 80, big brother to Dazzle's more restrictive DVC 50, is an easy-to-use digital video importer suited to the casual user, and it delivers higher quality for $20 more than the DVC 50. The Digital Video Creator 80, big brother to Dazzle's more restrictive DVC 50, is an easy-to-use digital video importer suited to the casual user, and it delivers higher quality for $20 more than the DVC 50.
The DVC 80 ($69.99) comes complete with a quick-start guide, free access to Dazzle's Webcast Theater (an online service that lets you post streaming movies on the Web), and a CD-ROM with device drivers and MGI's VideoWave 4 SE video-editing program. While the guide is complete and easy to follow, CNET's evaluation unit also came with a barely legible addendum to the guide that included a few extra installation steps and looked like it was produced at a photocopy shop.
The DVC 80's system requirements are pretty basic: a 300MHz Pentium II, 64MB of RAM, a powered USB port, and Windows Me or 98. Simply connect the DVC 80 to your computer's USB port, insert the CD-ROM into the drive, and tell Windows that the driver is on the CD. Installation of MGI's VideoWave 4 SE is automatic and painless. The software's decent documentation, in HTML format, loads automatically with the application.
The DVC 80 comes with left and right audio-in ports, a video-in port, and an S-Video port, but it doesn't include cables. To transfer video and audio from your camcorder to the DVC 80, you'll have to use the RCA cable that came with your camcorder or buy one. Plug one end of this the cable into the camcorder, the other end into the DVC 80's audio-in and video-in ports, and you're ready to rumble. A diagram printed on the product's box depicts where all the cables go, and the quick-start guide shows you how everything works.
Once the video is transferred to your PC, the included MGI VideoWave software lets you do everything from splitting your movie into easily managed groups and adding audio to creating transition effects and adding text to your movie. It also lets you save your movie in formats such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, or even VCD, which allows you to burn your movie onto a CD for viewing on a VCD-capable system. The finished product looks quite good and stays that way, even when displayed at full-screen.
The DVC 80 has the same so-so support options as the DVC 50 does. It comes with a one-year limited warranty. Telephone support lasts for the life of the product, but it's available only on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT--bad news for weekend video producers. The phone number is not toll-free, either. We've heard some complaints from readers about the quality of Dazzle's tech support, but our own calls have been uneventful. Dazzle does offer a Web site packed with a range of troubleshooting documents, FAQs, a discussion forum for getting help from fellow users, and links to e-mail support.
Although the DVC 80 spares you from the worst features of the DVC 50, neither device can do as much as the more expensive converters, such as Dazzle's own Digital Video Creator or Creative Labs' Video Blaster MovieMaker. But if you don't want to fork out $200 or so for one of the more capable products, Dazzle's DVC 80 is the next best thing.