USBVision devices have been sold by various manufacturers since 1998. Manufacturers include Alpha Data, Belkin, EchoFX, Global Village, Hauppauge, iRez, XLR8 and many others. Devices originally sold as PC-only are also supported. Compatibility can be checked using the USBVision For Mac OS X demo mode. Simply click the "Download" button on the right, and install and run the software.
USBVision devices allow the capture of video from almost any video source including VCRs, cam-corders, DVD players, personal video recorders, digital cameras, etc.
USBVision devices accept either s-video or composite video sources and will work with the broadcast standards NTSC, PAL and SECAM found throughout most of the world.
EchoFX provides drivers and application software that allow USBVision devices to be used under Mac OS X. The drivers offer higher quality video, higher frame rates, larger frame sizes, better sound synchronization and approximately 75% less disk consumption when saving movies, than the OS 9 drivers that originally shipped with the devices.
Video from USBVision devices can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you can record your favorite home-movies and clips to keep handy on your computer. It can be used with web-cam software to upload an image to the Internet periodically. It can be used with web-streaming software to create online broadcasts of live or prerecorded events. Live-video chat is possible with the appropriate software. Captured movies can be put on a CD or a website for viewing by anyone with a CD player or Internet access. It can be used for motion-detection applications, or by clay-mation hobbyists. For a summary of some of the supported third-party software and where to obtain it, check the "Applications" page.
The USBVision software is capable of capturing a maximum of 29.97 frames per second for NTSC or 25 frames per second for PAL. The maximum frame size is 352 x 240 for NTSC and 352 x 288 for PAL. The actual frame rate captured varies with the video source. Generally the cleaner and less active the source, the better the frame rate that will be captured. Movies on VHS and DVD are captured at the best rates, approaching or sustaining the maximum rates possible.
The captured video quality is extremely good, with brighter colors and better contrast than typical DV captures. Video and audio synchronization is excellent, even with extremely long captures. Captured movies require only 4 GB of disk storage per hour.
In addition to video, the USBVision software is able to capture still images with a resolution of 704 x 240. The vertical dimension is scaled in software to match the increased horizontal resolution to bring the total still image size up to 704 x 480.
Some USBVision devices come with additional hardware features. Audio inputs are supported. Although the audio capability of these devices is limited, there are cases where it is useful, for example during web broadcasts where quality is not an issue. Snapshot buttons are supported. Just push the button and the next video frame will be saved to disk. Some devices have TV tuners. The tuners in these devices are NOT supported, however the s-video inputs are.
The USBVision software supports multiple devices, i.e. more than one device can be plugged in and used at the same time. This is particularly useful with security applications like Ben Bird's SecuritySpy. It can also allow multiple simultaneous broadcasts from the same machine using webcam software like Econ Technologies' ImageCaster. Note that one serial number for each non-EchoFX device will be required, i.e. to enable 3 devices, 3 serial numbers must be purchased. EchoFX hardware does not require serialization.
The USBVision software features Dynamic Quality Management. When Dynamic Quality Management is enabled, the software takes over the chore of managing the compression levels of the video.