Cost of video capture hardware/software?

My computer has no capture equipment, so I’d be curious to know just what price range I’d be looking at to add that on. I’m not looking at doing any kind of fancy video editing, just screen caps. I know there’s no upper limit to what I could spend, assuming I had it, but what’s a reasonable price range to accomplish what I’d like.

Or maybe it would be cheaper to just buy a digital camera and snap the TV screen?

I’m not clear on what you want to do. Are you looking to capture TV broadcasts a la Tivo? Do you want to capture family home video and create snapshots/video vignettes? Both?

For capturing TV I use a TV tuner card which will run you anywhere from $40 to $200, and you’ll have to do your homework in order to come up with the best mix of features to price ratio. I plan on delving into this myself as I’m going to replace my current card, but I don’t have any suggestions off-hand.

To capture video most camcorders all you really need is a firewire port on your PC. Alternatively most TV tuner cards will also capture video fromt he camera’s composite out. The image quality willl suffer, however for most home purposes it’s just fine.

Software is going to be expensive part but only if you need to do anything semi professional. If not there are some easy to use and feature packed software packages out there. I’m keen on Adobe Premier Elements (will run you about $70). Most TV tuners will come with all the software you need to schedule, record, save, etc tv broadcasts. Make sure you get one with Digital TV support if you’re looking to go that way. Nothing worse than watching standard def episodes on a high def screen.

Just snapshots, specifially of pre-recorded DVDs.

Hmm, in that case all you need is a DVD player that will allow you to take screen captures. Simply put your DVD in your DVD drive (you have one right? If not they are like $20) and hit the capture button on the player.

I can’t imagine there not being a free player that would do this, though I can;t think of one off-hand. Hopefully someone else will chime in. Power DVD will do this and these days it comes standard with most DVD burners (those will run you more than $20 though).

I use SnagIt, which is a screen capture tool. If you can run your t.v. through your computer, I suppose it can capture individual frames.


There’s a free trial download. After that it’ll set you back $40.

While Kinthalis has the best solution, you can easily come up with a capturing setup for $20.

Search for “capture” at for your cheapo card. For capturing and encoding the video, use freeware such as Virtualdub.

I take it back - looks like the best you can do is $26. Maybe better on Ebay.

You could just hit Printscreen while watching your DVD of choice.

You won’t be happy with that. It will look like shit. The advice others are giving you is really the way to go.

That doesn’t work with most DVDs. This site has some suggestions, through from the comments it doesn’t look like they work with Media Player 10.

I know he’s said that he’s only going to screen-cap DVDs but I’ve never had good luck capturing with my TV card. It’s a fairly old (I think I bought it in 2002 to make life in a dorm easier) Hauppauge card with a TV tuner and a FM radio. They still sell WinTV-Radio and they claim their software (SoftPVR) will work, but I had a devil of a time ever getting video capture to work before there were such programs out there for sale (I think I was using DScaler, at least one version of VirtualDub and probably at least one other freeware program) without one of the following problems: no audio capture, no video capture, video capture displays upside-down. I can’t speak for SoftPVR (or their PVR boards and other software) as my board is so old and I don’t think I can download it, unless it comes built-in to the latest WinTV application. Considering all the problems I’ve had with my card over the years (though I’m not sure they can all be attributed to the TV card itself, I think some of it was the even more ancient sound card I’m still using) I don’t know if I could recommend Hauppauge. And now if I get Dish Network like I’m thinking, I can get two DVRs for free, so I can just put one on top of my computer instead of messing around with video capture inside the computer even with the advantages of a computer-captured video.

asterion, sounds like your card was funky. There is a steep learning curve for this stuff though, so I’m sure not all of it was the card.

Thanks for the responses. Turns out I don’t need anything. Sorta. The computer I have at home (a work surplus) has a DVD rom drive, but it doesn’t DO anything–that’s the beauty of it. I can pop in a DVD, but it says I don’t have a decoder installed (or something like that).

Since it’s a former work computer, I figure they just half-assed installed some of what they deemed “less essential components.”

I took several different DVDs to work, and tried it out, and it did exactly what I wanted. Apparently they’ve started appointing them a little better. In the year and a half that I’ve had this computer at work with a DVD rom drive, I had never once tried it out.

Once again, thanks for all the advice, but it turns out I already had what I needed–just at work.