Pinnacle DV500

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Pinnacle DV500 DVD

The DV500 might be the veteran of real-time DV editing cards in the consumer arena, but Pinnacle isn't ready to lay it to rest just yet. And the DV500 DVD might well be a dream come true for many would-be DVD authors.
Pinnacle's DV500 was the first dual-stream DV editing card to break into the mainstream prosumer market, and has proven to be one of the most popular DV cards to date. Almost three years on, Pinnacle seems unwilling to retire the board, and is intent on expanding its capabilities to address new demands of video editors.
The latest incarnation is the DV500 DVD which - aside from some slight software updates -is almost identical to the DV500 Plus. The card's real-time editing capabilities are largely unchanged, but this new revision has the ability to export DVD-compliant MPEG-2 video in hardware using a C-Cube chipset that is otherwise used for real-time previewing of effects and transitions.
The bundle also weighs in at around £50 less than last year's DV500 Plus, and sports an up-to-date version of Impression DVD Pro SE for disc authoring, as well as the full version of Adobe Premiere 6 for DV editing. Installation was a breeze on our Athlon-based test system running Windows XP, and we were pleased to see a minor alteration to the break-out box - now providing a DV port as well as analogue AV sockets. This addition doesn’t require any change to the capture board itself, it's just that the new box uses two cables - one which plugs into the card's analogue extension port, and another that goes to its FireWire socket.
Real-time editing cards aren't supported natively by Windows in the way that OHCI FireWire cards are, and so DV500 users are forced to use the bundled editing software - Adobe Premiere 6. But, things are no different for those who buy a Matrox RT2500 or a Canopus Storm or Raptor RT. Even so, this lack of software choice can be an off-putting restriction. Thankfully, however, the next revision of Pinnacle's own multi-featured editing software, Edition DV 4.5, will support DV and analogue capture and output using the DV500. Look out for more details and a hands-on test soon.


As a real-time editing card, the DV500's thunder has long been stolen by Canopus's DV Storm, just as its range of special effects has been out-classed by those of the Matrox RT2500. And, while analogue inputs and outputs are genuinely useful, we feel that the DV500's real-time functionality is a little too limited to be held up as a serious selling point.
Integration with the Edition DV editing program ought to boost sales of the card significantly, since that combination of hardware and software looks likely to result in a very attractive DV editing set-up. But, right now, there is one nearly overpowering reason for many editors to look very seriously at the DV500 DVD with the current software bundle - and that's the very impressive quality of its MPEG-2 encoding. Although not quite as convenient as the real-time capture available from Pinnacle’s DC1000 card, the DV500 DVD does a tremendous job of encoding – even at relatively low bitrates. Given the relatively high prices of competing hardware encoders from Canopus and Vitec, we can only conclude that the DV500 DVD package offers by far the best all round value.

Peter Wells

For the full review, see the September/October 2002 issue of Computer Video.

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