very short, low-quality, clips from the memory card. In order to transfer video recorded on the miniDV tape, you really need to be using a FireWire connection.
Which Operating System are you using? Windows MovieMaker will work just fine if you use FireWire. Pinnacle Studio is really cool and all, but unnecesary for you at this point. May I suggest that you return the Pinnacle product, and get a FireWire card instead... AND a 4-pin (camera side) to 6-pin (computer side) FireWire cable.
None of the camcorder manufacturers include a FireWire cable in the box (which is really stupid - and as you are well aware, quite frustrating) and as you have found, transferring video via USB is problematic. Once you get the FireWire card working, you can then connect the camcorder directly to your computer with the FireWire cable - no Pinnacle Studio required and transfer the video you captured on the miniDV tape. Later, if you decide you want to keep growing, reconsider Pinnacle Studio - or other editors... but stick your toe in without getting hip-deep... On the other hand, if you can afford to keep Pinnacle Studio, it is a perfectly fine video editor, and you will still need the FireWire card - and you will also find the 4pin/6pin FireWire cable very useful.
If you are running Windows XP, be sure to get ServicePack 2 installed - the newer version of MovieMaker (2.1.whatever) included with it has some additional capabilities the 1.1.something version does not have.
The Sony DCR-HC96 is a good camera and will provide you with awesome video quality... via FireWire.
I just bought this camera and am very frustrated. I'm no dummy--have lots of tech toys, but this is crazy.
First of all, the picture maker software (supplied) won't open. I get an error message saying "must have macromedia flash player installed". I know I have flash player because I use it to run other programs. I have tried re-downloading flash player, but it won't completely install because the error window says "can't find plugin destination folder.
I gave up and tried using windows moviemaker. The image quality was awful.After giving up again, I bought Pinnacle Studio but this needs a firewire connection and I only have USB. Before I invest in firewire, is this going to be a good program for use with my DCR-HC96?