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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



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