Resolved Question

How can I overcome lack of Firewire port on laptop?

Jan 27, 2015 2:43PM PST

My camcorder has a DV output and I have a DV to Firewire 400 cable. My old pc had a firewire port so no problem. But my laptop doesn't have one. So I bought an external hard drive that has a firewire port, connected it to my laptop and then connected the camcorder to the external hard drive. The problem is that neither my Ulead 11 program nor Windows Movie Maker will find the camcorder - only the webcam on the laptop! I copied the Ulead files to the external hard drive and then ran it from there, but still no luck. Does anyone have any idea how I can get the video from my camcorder to my laptop? Any help much appreciated! Thank you very much.

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Best Answer

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Which laptop?
Jan 29, 2015 12:43PM PST

If it has an ExpressCard or PCMCIA expansion slot, then there are firewire cards available. Examples:

If it has neither of those, but has a Thunderbolt port, then the Thunderbolt to firewire adapter cables work great.

As R. Proffit indicated, USB-to-firewire cable/adapter/converter things will not do the job, so don't waste your money or time.

An external drive with multiple connection options generally will not act as a passthrough from one technology to another. If the USB port is connected to the computer, the USB connection takes precedence and the other ports (firewire, ethernet, SATA or whatever) will not be active.

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Still struggling!
Feb 3, 2015 2:13PM PST

Thank you very much boya84. I had already been warned off some kind of USB/Firewire adapter hence my thought about getting a hard drive with a firewire slot. I have an Acer Aspire 5560 - there's no sign of any suitable slots for Expresscard, PCMCIA or Thunderbolt cards - or maybe there's one hidden away that I can't find? I really appreciate your help!

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Panasonic DMB-ES15
Feb 3, 2015 6:16PM PST

My Panasonic DVD recorder has a four pin FireWire port for DV camcorders. If you can find one with a FW port you could record onto DVD and transfer that way. Unfortunately it will be SD and not HD.

I have always kept with a tower PC because it can be fitted with anything I want. My latest did not have FireWire but it was an easy job to fit a three port FireWire card for my Canon HV20. Plus I get a choice of processors, extra memory and multiple card readers and eight USB ports. I also run two screens, one main and one dedicated to video editing, the second screen had 16:9 ratio dimensions. If you are serious about video editing, this may be the way to go in the future. IMO laptops are far too limiting.
OR buy a new camcorder as most are SD card based and you will have a card reader on your laptop.

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No firewire on that Acer Notebook
Feb 3, 2015 9:59PM PST

No Thunderbolt or expansion slots, either. A "notebook" is sort of between a laptop and a tablet... Terfyn suggested a "direct to DVD" burner. The only other suggestion I have is to get an "analog to digital converter". Elgato and many others make them.

Word of warning... You really don't want the start-up drive in the computer to get below about 20% available space - ever. Importing 60 minutes of standard definition, DV format video suitable for editing will consume about 14 gig of computer hard drive space. If your Notebook has only the stock 500 gig drive, a replacement (larger) or external may be in order.

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Thank you
Feb 10, 2015 1:40PM PST

Thanks for your help. Looks like the Acer laptop isn't the right device to do the video work on...but thanks anyway!

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Firewire cards
Jan 27, 2015 2:51PM PST

If you look on Amazon, there are a number of FireWire cards for laptops.

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It sounds to me that...
Jan 27, 2015 3:00PM PST

you don't have the software on the laptop to do what you wanted to do. As for no firewire on the laptop, why not get a DV to USB cable or maybe an adapter (firewire to usb)?

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This would be a first.
Jan 28, 2015 1:29AM PST

It's been over a decade and I've yet to find a working DV (firewire) to USB cable. Folk are hunting for such so if you found one, please share. Mind you that you must have tested it and not relying on a web site's claim.

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Agreed, this is a pain in the neck!
Feb 10, 2017 11:55AM PST

I thought I had a solution, although expensive, by buying a Hauppauge HD PVR. It worked for the first 12 tapes I did but now it only runs for a few minutes then shuts down. STILL looking for a solution!

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This old discusson.
Feb 10, 2017 12:13PM PST

Anyhow the shutdown needs investigation.

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converting tapes
Nov 11, 2017 4:49PM PST

Did you ever figure out another solution? I have a mini DV camcorder with a 4-pin firewire port and the laptop I had with a 6-pin firewire port was stolen (I have a cable that connected the two). My new laptop does not have one so looking for a solution.

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A workaround approach
Jul 10, 2016 3:14PM PDT

I made the same mistake, forgot about firewire when I got a new laptop. Would probably have to custom order it now. Technology has passed it by. Fortunately I still had my old laptop with a disfunctional track pad. I use it to capture video then transfer it to my new laptop for editing, etc. That's my suggestion for you. Try to find a suitable used laptop and dedicate it to video capture. Check Craigs list, repair shops, even Goodwill. Shouldn't cost much. If you can't find one with firewire check for PCMCIA or other card slot and add firewire that way.

Some considerations: You will need a fast enough CPU, enough RAM, and enough hard disk. You may be able to capture to an external drive, but that takes a more robust machine to avoid dropouts. I do well to an external drive with a 1.8 gig cpu with 2GB of Ram. I had a much older laptop that could capture OK thru PCMCIA, but it had to be to the hard drive and the only active process. You can do without networking, firewall, and virus checking so you won't get interrupted by update messages. Good luck.

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