What is a Video Capture Card?

What is a Video Capture Card?

A video capture card is a vital tool for anyone wanting to edit or record video from an external source. The cards can be used for a wide range of purposes, from recording VCR tapes and surveillance system footage to creating game play for video sharing websites. With hundreds of capture cards available to choose from, selecting one to suit your computer, video source, and intended use can be extremely difficult. In order to make the best choice, the following important factors should be considered before making a purchase.

Internal or External Video Capture Cards

One major decision when choosing your capture card is whether to opt for an internal or external model. An external card will connect to your computer externally usually via a USB cable. They are quick and easy to set up and can be used with any laptop or computer that has a USB port. Internal cards, on the other hand, are fitted to the inside of your computer and stay connected and ready whenever you want to use them. However, these internal cards take more time and a good level of computer knowledge to install them initially. Additionally, they work only on PCs and not on Laptops.

High Definition (HD) or Standard Definition (SD)

An HD video capture card is capable of recording much better quality video and sound than their SD counter parts. As technology progresses SD is becoming increasingly outdated, but as a result it is often a significantly cheaper option. If quality is important to you, then a HD model is a must, but if you are aiming for only basic videos, the savings that can be made on an SD version may be worthwhile.

Necessary Input Slots

The laptop or PC video capture card will usually be internally fitted or connect to your computer via a USB port. However, choosing one that also fits your DVD player, Video Player, camcorder, digital TV receiver or any other external video source you are using can be more difficult. Most capture cards come with S-video and RCA connections, but for HD recording you will also need a HDMI cable. Check the connections on all the devices you wish to use, to ensure that your capture card is compatible.

Computer Requirements

The most commonly forgotten consideration when choosing a capture card is whether or not your computer meets its minimum requirement. To run at optimum level, a computer should have more hard drive space, a faster processing speed, and more RAM than the video capture card requires.

Video Editing Software

Inbuilt video editing software enables you to import videos to your computer without the need for a video editing program. This can save you a lot of time and effort, though the upgrade usually comes at an extra cost. Choosing an extremely low cost capture card model often results in unreliable recording ability and poor picture quality, while an extremely expensive model may produce perfect quality picture beyond what you actually need or your computer can handle. Overall, choosing the right video capture card will be a balancing act between what you can afford and what best suits your individual needs.


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