Dazzle DVC Parallel Port versus USB

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Hi everyone,

Just wanted to give you guys the results of some tests I did. I have been using the Dazzle parallel port unit about four monthes now and have been very satisfied with the results. After reading several posts about the USB version having better video quality, I decided to try it out. I bought one knowing I would be able to return it if I didn't like it. The results somewhat surprised me.

According to Dazzles web site specs, the USB could capture at up to 3Mb rate and the Parallel only 2.5Mb. This is not true. My Parallel unit has captured at 3Mb since I upgraded the software to V3.61 which I downloaded from their site.

For the test I completely uninstalled all of the Parallel software first. As soon as I got the USB set-up and running, I noticed a big difference right away. At the 3Mb capture rate, even the preview screen had lots of blockiness. I captured several different types of video.... both fast and slow motion scenes. The results were very bad compared to the Parallel port version. Playback of the files with Win Media player looked about the same as VCD rate on the Parallel! Needless to say, the unit was boxed up and returned within 3 hours.

I got a little pissed when the USB software wouldn't un-install properly. I had to go into the registry to remove it all. I got my Parallel unit re-installed and captured the sames clips and the results are great. I don't have an explanation for why it does better than the USB but I will stick with it. Actually, one thing you should do if you have the Parallel version that might give you better results. Change your parallel port setting in the BIOS to make it an ECP port (extended capabilities port). Also, I am running mine on a PIII 550 that is only used for video (not a lot of other stuff installed) and try to keep my resources above 88% free.

I wish I could see some clips made by folks that only criticize the Dazzle. They must be making DVD quality VCDs??? I captured a National Geographic show off satallite at the 3Mb rate and it was perfect. The colors were as good as broadcast and there was very little (if any) blockiness noticable. Also, to be fair, I am not saying that the Dazzle is "Great" at VCD rates. It's not. I use the 1.5Mb rate or higher if I'm doing movies and make straight mpeg files (not VCDs). I play these back on my system with a Video Out to a big screen TV and am very happy with it.

I just got the Panasonic standalone encoder and will be experimenting with it. The docs don't seem very in-depth. Can anyone point me to some sites or pages that have tutorials on using or parameter settings?

Anyway, I hope the above has provided some helpful info to those of you contemplating the Dazzle. Go with the Parallel port version if your port can handle high data rates. Happy Capturing!

-- EG Marshall (4me@schoolmail.com), April 12, 2000


Hey Eg, you got blockiness at the 3000 bit rate?? Hmm something wasnt right then (are you sure you had the usb hooked firmly in??). i get no blockiness at all at that rate. i also figured something wasnt right when you had problems uninstaling the product.Also i was curious when you said the 3.61 enabled you to capture at 3ooo. I may be wrong but wouldnt it have to be a hardware up[grade if dazzle says it only captures at 2.5? Unless dazzle is wrong i do not see how the upgrade will allow a higher bitrate, if the hardweare piece itself isnt made to capture that high(then again you never know with Dazzle). I too have the same specs as you roughly (pent 3 550mhz). I dont know iit souns more so like you got a bad dazzle usb, it souns more like their was something wrong with that unit. the pics you saw were not how they look. Something just wasnt right.

-- Doug (mazinz@aol.com), April 12, 2000.

excuse the typos, im typing in a hurry

-- Doug (mazinz@aol.com), April 12, 2000.

Doug, I guess I need to add a few things. The software installed ok and I'm sure I had the USB plug in good. I have a feeling that the problem is more to do with my system. I think the IRQ for the USB is shared with several other items and that may have been part of it. My Parallel port has an IRQ all to itself.

I should have said that I have been able to capture at 3Mb rate with the PP unit since the day I installed it because I had already downloaded V3.61 and installed it instead of V3.22 that came with it. You know what else is weird?? If you go to the store and look at the new green box that the USB comes in... the specs on the side of it say the max rate for the USB is 2.5Mb????

As far as the uninstall problem, the add/remove cleared it out but left a few things in the registry. When I went to re-install the PP software, it balked and aborted the install because it can update other PP software but not USB. I just went into the registry and removed all entries with Dazzle in it. No problems after that.

I ran a few Panasonic re-encode tests today. I noticed that the Panasonic does a good job of noise filtering but it looks like the video is slightly out of focus afterwards. I'm still not sure of all the various settings and what type of results I can look for. However, I do a lot of capturing, mpg and asf, and I don't have enough system time to re-encode. My other system is always downloading. Hmmmm.... wonder if this would make for a good excuse to get a third system. LOL

-- EG Marshall (4me@schoolmail.com), April 12, 2000.

if your getting slightly blurred results with the panasonic it coulkd be 2 things: one the sharpness on the dazzle is turned down too much (i always keep it border line between 1 and 0) or your using too strong of filter on the panasonic. For the record ( i do highrate vcds as well, ok mainly now high rates since my dvd will play them) the filters on the panasonic i keep as the following "video" set to adaptive" and strong. i rarly if ever you "noise" filter as it can actually add after-effects in your pic you do not want. it all depends on how good or bad your source material is. EX: i just did a highrate vcd of Night of the living dead 1990 uncut workprint. the quality wasnt the best so i had the noise filter on as well set to weak, no higher. if the adaptive filter is set to "strongest' this sometimes makes the left side of the screen slightly blurry, strong seems ok. Hope this helps

-- Doug (mazinz@aol.com), April 13, 2000.


I'm wondering if you have noticed the following. When I capture at high rates (2Mb and up) I get great video but get one or two frames of garbage when there is a transition to a very bright screen or rapid transitions of brightness levels. Have you ever had that problem? Anything I can do to eliminate it?

On another note. I usually keep my sharpness level at the default setting of 1. The only thing I have ever changed from the defaults is the horizontel alignment to clip the bottom of the video when recording from a VCR source.

Tried an experiment with the Panasonic encoder. Recorded a 5 min clip at 3Mb rate and re-encoded with pana to NTSC VCD template, Quantizer Matrix at MPEG1 Standard and no Image Filters in use. Took about 25 minutes (5:1) and results seem promising as a quicker way to compress high bitrate clips down to VCD. Still experimenting with it.... I doubt I'll use it much for real work until it is at least 1:1 or faster.

-- EG Marshall (4me@schoolmail.com), April 14, 2000.

yes i have seen the problem you have described, mine though smetimes comes on whenever. here is how to eliminate it: For one do not push the dazzle to it's max. this is why it will cause that interference. Instead capture onebit below (ex i used to do 3000 then sometimes i would get that garbage you talked about, so i lowered the bitrate so the Dazzle isnt pumping at full max, all my captures now are at 2900). ALSO very important it has a pretty sucky cooling system from which if it heats up too much can give you dropped frames and or that garbage interference. SO use somekind of fan and have this blowing behind the dazzle (or more so put the dazzle on an angle so its vents are geting the air from the fan). I have not seen that "garbage" now in over 2 months. ALSO i still recomend that you use some filter when converting with the panasonic.

-- Doug (mazinz@AOL.COM), April 14, 2000.

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