What to Consider When Looking for USB Video Capture

Pick the right USB video capture card

There can be many factors that go into choosing a video capture device for your computer. With prices ranging from only $20 to up to over $200, making the decision doesn't have to be difficult or costly. There are a lot of options, however, (a quick search on Tigerdirect provided 24 results) and here we'll attempt to help you choose the device that's right for you.

SIIG 1080p HDMI USB 3.0 Video Capture Adapter Card
 Photo from Amazon


What do you want to capture? Are you looking to back up older VHS tapes? Do you want to be able to capture TV shows and save them? What about your camcorder?

Your first consideration should be your usage scenario. If you intend to convert older VHS tapes to DVD, you may want to look for a device that comes with video editing software. If you know you're going to be simply making copies, the software may not be a priority for you.

Elgato Analog to USB Video Capture Device

As well, you'll want to make sure that the video capture device you buy has the proper connections for the VCR or camcorder you want to connect to it. There's nothing worse than ordering a video capture device only to find that you can't connect your video playback devices to it.

Lastly, if you do intend to use your capture device for television recording, you may want to consider a TV tuner instead. Many of these devices have connections that will allow you to connect a VCR or camcorder as well as cable or satellite.


When searching for USB capture devices, you'll find a wide price range. Knowing how much you want to spend will go a long way in helping you choose a device. Unfortunately, price does not correlate with features. There are many devices that ship with software but cost less than those that don't. Be sure to know what you're willing to spend when you start shopping.


How do you want to use the video you capture on your PC? If you simply want to burn the videos to DVD, you won't need much in the way of special features with your device as you can use other software to burn these disks. If however, you're looking to edit your videos or to use them on portable devices, you may want to look for a device that will allow you do either edit videos or convert them to other video formats for use on other devices.

Also, what connections do you need? Most devices come with standard definition connections but there are some that will allow you to capture HD video. Most new camcorders do record HD video, and it would be a shame to not get that quality in your transfers.

Another consideration is that if you're only going to be transferring video from your HD camcorder, you may not need a capture device at all! Most of today's camcorders come with a USB port built right in and can be connected directly to your PC for transfer and DVD burning.

The Bottom Line

In the end, choosing a capture device isn't easy. The options are staggering and with such a wide price range, it's important to do your research. What you want to capture, how you want to use it and whether or not you want to edit your videos all play a factor in the decision. As does the type of video you want to capture. Be sure to take your time and you're sure to find the USB video capture card that's right for you.

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