Let me share my PC specs:
- Intel P4 1.8Ghz, 1GB RDRAM (was 512MB until a week ago), WinXP Pro (was WinME until a week ago), and then 7200rpm hard drives (560GB worth).
- Intel Celeron 1.7Ghz, 512 DDR RAM, WinXP Pro, and 7200rpm drives (180GB worth).
I can capture anything I want on the P4 and almost anything I want on the Celeron.
Now, you didn't mention your drive sizes. The most important aspect to capturing video (or even transferring DV footage) is that you use a second hard drive for the video files (not a secnd partition, but a physically second hard drive in the PC). Even a small 80GB drive will suffice, but bigger is always better (to a point).
The thing about PCI vs AGP is only important for graphics cards. The throughput of a video card is not that demanding, and even all the professional video cards are PCI slot cards (Matrox, etc).
I don't recall what these cards have chip-wise, but your results don't sound too impressive: Bravado 1000, ASUS V8200, Pinnacle PCTV Stereo. Those are not really regarded as high quality video cards anyway.
Now, the Hauppauge PVR series cards are quite nice... for MPEG. Now, the thing to realize is that MPEG is a final-format, not suited for editing. If you want to edit, this is not the way to go. A lesser compressed AVI is what you'd be after.
Another thing is the "ULEAD" software you used. Ulead is just a company with many softwares, most of them quite inferior. I use Adobe Premiere 6.5 for all my editing work, though I know it costs a bit more than consumer-level software. Vegas Video 4 or 5 is another option. These can always be found for cheap on eBay
from people selling off their old stuff.
A good PC ... which your specs match ... can easily keep up with video capture. You should have no trouble doing whatever you want with that PC. Just be sure you've got decent hard drive space on a dedicated video drive.
DV is a format I personally hate. It is a horrible option for those that have NTSC video as it uses 4:1:1 YUV compression and looks absolutely dismal. For live camera footage on a DV camera, it is quite decent. But as a conversion tool, dismal. For those in PAL land, you get DV as 4:2:0 YUV compression (standard DVD MPEG2 YUV), so it's not really bad at all. It's an option, though it won't save any space as compared to other less-compressed AVI formats (like MJPEG, HuffYUV
or YUY2). So DV depends on your video format. Your IP address (if mapped back correctly) indicates you are in Colorado. In this case, DV is not a good idea as you would be NTSC.
Cheap cards tend to lose audio/video sync quite easy. Those are normally the ones you see for under $50 US. Not great, you get what you pay for. I use an ATI ALL IN WONDER card because it provided me decent graphics card for photo work (I do not play computer games, so I don't need the uber-nerd gaming card of the minute), and then the video card uses the THEATRE video chipset, which provided top-of-the-line quality.
Another option I chose was the JVC DRM10SL DVD recorder. It gives me results as good as the ATI MPEG captures. For you, this is probably still not an option, as you'll still be in the MPEG edit-unfriendly zone. You'd want to stick to a PC and AVI for editing.
With PC cards, there are many options. But as far as the best one, for AVI especially, I tend to go ATI AIW (All In Wonder). It just depends on if you are willing to take out your current AGP card. Any ATI AIW card from the last few years works too. You can find them for as little as $50-75 on eBay
, no need to buy the newest $400 one from the store. I use the 7200 AGP card (on the P4) and an 7200 PCI card (or the Celeron) from 2001. You can double-up the ATI PCI with an existing AGP, but that's more advanced work, something I don't even like to mess with. ATI also has it's own dedicated software (ATI MMC) and does not make you rely on some 3rd party stuff like most cards.
If you don't want ATI, and decide to buy something brand new from the store, be sure it is not DV, that it costs more than $100, and then experiment with it capturing AVI.
Let me know if this is helping ... and if you have any more questions...