PC image capture technology doesn't have to be
expensive or complicated, ZipShot is a plug and go solution for anyone who want
to get a video image onto their PC screen, fast!
In the past three years there has been a
veritable flood of PC video image capture devices and expansion cards. Each
successive is generation more sophisticated than the last, a fact that's
usually reflected in the selling price and thickness of the instruction manual!
Whilst there is a clear need for top-end technology, it's important not to
loose sight of the basics. For a lot of people, who may only want to grab the
occasional video image and import it into their PC there's little point
spending several hundred pounds on the latest high-power hardware.
The Arcsoft ZipShot makes video image capture
simple and affordable. There's no need to take the lid off your PC, the ZipShot
module plugs into the PC's serial printer socket, it has a through-port, so the
printer can remain connected. There are no batteries or AC adaptors to worry
about either, ZipShot gets its power from the PC keyboard; a set of power-tap
cables are included in the box, along with a CD-ROM stuffed full of interesting
software. This includes PhotoImpression
capture program, PhotoFantasy for fiddling around with images, Live-Com video
phone plus an assortment of multimedia, e-mail and printing utilities.
The front end is bright and breezy, friendly-looking
with lots of twee icons and buttons all over the place. At least it's not going
to frighten anyone off and it is very easy to use. PhotoFantasy includes a set
of ready-made templates for creating DIY birthday cards, calendars and fake
magazine covers. The internet and video conferencing software was a bit of a
muddle and despite our best attempts we couldn't get it to do anything
worthwhile, life is too short…
As well as still images ZipShot can also
capture AVI moving video clips, for incorporating in web pages and for video
conferencing. The refresh rate is way too slow for anything serious and image
size is on the small side (160 x 120 at 10-15 fps or 320 x 240, 3 to 5 fps).
Nevertheless, within its limitations the quality is good and there's an impressive
set of effects to play around with, for creating whirls, or swirls, plus it has
a set of video controls, for adjusting brightness, contrast and colour.
For capturing the odd video still and
dabbling with moving video ZipShot really hits the spot. It can be up and
running in a couple of minutes, and there's no need to dismantle your PC or
wade through any complicated set up procedures. Worth trying, if you want to
keep life simple.
£100 (inc. VAT)
486 PC or faster Windows 3.1/95 or NT, 8Mb
RAM, 20Mb hard disc space, VGA display, CD-ROM drive
Still and motion video capture, time-lapse
capture, parallel port interface, multi-standard compatible, image manipulation
and video conferencing software included
Johnson's Photopia, (01782) 753300
Ó R. Maybury 1998 3108