HP's video conversion tool

SAN FRANCISCO (09/22/2003) - When you're ready to convert your stacks of cherished (but now only rarely watched) videotapes to DVD, consider Hewlett-Packard Co.'s clever new DVD Movie Writer Dc3000.

There are many ways to do the conversion job, but only the US$399 Dc3000 currently combines analog video inputs with a DVD+R/RW burner in a single, external device. Connect the svelte silver unit to your PC's USB 2.0 port, run a cable from your VCR or other video source to the Dc3000's composite video or S-Video input, install the software, and you're ready to start. An MPEG-2 encoding card collects the incoming analog video signal and encodes it digitally in real time.

The hardware is nice, but what really distinguishes the Dc3000 is HP's Video Transfer Wizard software, which walks you through the process of converting your video and then burning it to DVD. The wizard's scalable timer can encode and record up to two hours of video unattended.

While using a preproduction unit to encode two test videos from my home VCR, I ran into a few rough spots- I had to reset the hardware repeatedly so the software could recognize my video sourcea--but overall, the unit's capabilities impressed me. (HP says that it is working to correct the glitch I encountered.)

Best of all, you get the entire package, including a generous software bundle that contains additional video and sound editing apps, for only about $50 more than you'd pay for a comparable, high-quality external DVD burner. That's a premium I wouldn't hesitate to pay for the ease of preserving treasured memories.

Hewlett-Packard DVD Movie Writer Dc3000

Preproduction unit, not rated

Intelligently designed package makes updating to DVD easy.

Price when reviewed: $399.

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