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Old February 21st, 2009, 09:55 PM   #1
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My experience using a netbook as a DTE

Hi folks. I've been lurking here for a while. I've learned a lot and thought it was time I shared back.

I did a search and didn't find any posts about using a netbook as a capture device, so I thought I'd share my experience.

I'm primarily a still photographer and shoot mostly dance and theater. Last year I hooked up with a partner who has some experience in DV and we started offering video services. Being that we are shooting dance recitals and it's pretty low margin work, I was looking for an inexpensive and faster way of getting the video into the PC.

At my local Circuit City store's going out of business sale, they had a Lenovo S10 Netbook on the shelf. It was the last one and I talked the guy into letting me have it for 25% off. It has a 1.6Ghz Atom processor, 1.5GB RAM and a 160GB 5400RPM HD. I loaded Windows Vista Business on it. It's pretty small and lightweight with a 10" screen.

No netbook I know of has a Firewire port, but the S10 has a Express34 slot so I was able to add Firewire with an adpater card.

I also used an external USB hard drive to capture the video.

When I plugged in the camera and turned it on, Vista recognized the camera and opened the Windows video capture utility. I was able capture the video direct to the external HD as a full size AVI, just like capturing it from tape. A one hour recital was about 13GB.

The only trick is that the external drive needs to be formatted in NTFS. FAT16 and FAT32 cannot handle files larger than 4GB. I did a two camera shoot tonight and used a second laptop in addition to the netbook. I didn't realize that the second computer was capturing to FAT32 drive, and since I had closed the lid, I never knew that it quit at 4GB. It was a good thing I was also capturing to tape just in case, so I can pull the video from there. Next time I'll know. From my still photography I have several external USB drives around. I formatted two for NTFS, but I had grabbed the wrong one when I loaded up my equipment case!

I know some folks are using Macbooks and more powerful laptops to capture video, but I wanted to share that a netbook with the ATOM processor it more than adequate. And now that 250GB USB drives are under $100, I can capture hours of video for the fraction of the price of an equivelant size Firestore for not much more weight and complexity.

FWIW...

-Dave-
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Old February 21st, 2009, 11:13 PM   #2
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13GB per hour sounds like miniDV. What camera were you shooting with?
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 06:36 AM   #3
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I was shooting with two Canon GL2's.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 11:39 AM   #4
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I don't know if you have access to it, but I would be curious as to whether HDV would capture. It is essentially the same data rate. You could use a free capture utitility like HDV split to actually capture.
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Old February 22nd, 2009, 09:44 PM   #5
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I don't have access to a HDV camera. I've been thinking about upgrading to a XH-A1 for a while now, but I'm having a hard time justifying it. I've not had any request for videos in HD and don't anticipate any for quite some time. I've been just making DVDs of dance performances and the market is all SD.

Actually, I've been thinking of 'upgrading' to an XL2 (or a couple of them) as I would like to shoot in 16:9 (it's a better format for a stage show) and I think it has a better widescreen than the GL2. Plus I could use the line level XLR inputs.

Then I think the money is better spent on a quality anamorphic lens and a Juiced Link.

Sorry I can't be more help.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 11:22 AM   #6
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This sounds exacly like the setup I'm after.
A netbook with express card > firewire.
Possibly another battery for backup.
Upgrade the internal hard drive. Capture from XHA1.

I'm going to be shooting weddings. So quite mobile.

I need to get some sort of backpack to hold the netbook in that does not look like something out of ghost busters and has ventilation.

Of course would the Lenovo S10 handle HDV?
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Old March 19th, 2009, 07:21 PM   #7
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Hi, I was very interested to find this thread as I too was considering the Lenovo S10 as a possible capture device for HDV. I took the plunge this week and my first impressions are good. Some details:

Sony HVR-V1e
Lenovo S10e (1 Gb RAM, 160 Gb HDD, expresscard/34 firewire adaptor, 250 Gb external USB2 drive)
HDVSplit version 0.77 Beta freeware
VLC

The tape transport on my V1 stopped working a couple of days ago and I urgently needed a direct-to-disk option. Unfortunately I didn't own a laptop - step forward the S10. Apart from installing VLC and HDVSplit I used the S10 right out of the box. Last night I recorded 100 mins of HDV footage (football match, so two 50 min clips) to the external drive via the S10 (the external drive was USB powered).

It worked perfectly (no dropped frames, TC breaks). However, the S10's battery was almost exhausted and I was only able to review 5 mins of footage with VLC before it died. I have ordered a larger capacity 6-cell battery.

If anyone is interested I plan to test the S10's capabilities re: recording to the internal drive, using different capture software (Movie Maker, CapDVHS?) etc..

So far my (albeit very limited) experience of this setup has been good. If you were simultaneously recording to tape it seems like a good (if non-critical) option.
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Old April 1st, 2009, 08:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie Craig View Post
Hi, I was very interested to find this thread as I too was considering the Lenovo S10 as a possible capture device for HDV. I took the plunge this week and my first impressions are good. Some details:

Sony HVR-V1e
Lenovo S10e (1 Gb RAM, 160 Gb HDD, expresscard/34 firewire adaptor, 250 Gb external USB2 drive)
HDVSplit version 0.77 Beta freeware
VLC

The tape transport on my V1 stopped working a couple of days ago and I urgently needed a direct-to-disk option. Unfortunately I didn't own a laptop - step forward the S10. Apart from installing VLC and HDVSplit I used the S10 right out of the box. Last night I recorded 100 mins of HDV footage (football match, so two 50 min clips) to the external drive via the S10 (the external drive was USB powered).

It worked perfectly (no dropped frames, TC breaks). However, the S10's battery was almost exhausted and I was only able to review 5 mins of footage with VLC before it died. I have ordered a larger capacity 6-cell battery.

If anyone is interested I plan to test the S10's capabilities re: recording to the internal drive, using different capture software (Movie Maker, CapDVHS?) etc..

So far my (albeit very limited) experience of this setup has been good. If you were simultaneously recording to tape it seems like a good (if non-critical) option.


I have a HVR-V1U and after reading your post was thinking to try with the Seagate external 1GB hard drive that comes with the firwire port. Do you think this will work?
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Old April 1st, 2009, 09:53 PM   #9
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I hit a little snag with my setup. I was in a place where I could setup a full size notebook computer with a built in Firewire. I used the same setup as with my Netbook: using the built in capture application with Vista.

What happened was that whenever I plugged the laptop into the mains power using its power brick I got a terrible audio static when monitoring the audio on the camera. When the computer was on batteries it was fine, but plugged into 120V main power I got the static. The camera was on main power as well.

I tried a power strip and also tried another outlet from the camera (but I think it was on the same breaker) with no luck. Fortunately, I had an extended battery for the computer and with the LCD display off I can easily get 8 hours, so it really wasn't an issue, but I couldn't figure out what was causing the static. It was like a ground loop, but only when the camera was plugged into the firewire port and only when the computer was on mains power. And it didn't sound like the typical 60Hz hum of a ground loop. It was a lot "scratchier".

I'm going to test a bit more. Any suggestions?
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Old May 4th, 2009, 02:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Manohar Hegde View Post
I have a HVR-V1U and after reading your post was thinking to try with the Seagate external 1GB hard drive that comes with the firwire port. Do you think this will work?
Hi, I haven't yet tested the S10 with an external firewire drive - it should work, even although you are capturing & outputting on the same firewire buss (in the expresscard slot) - most expresscard manufacturers claim the interface is more than fast enough to handle firewire in/out simultaneously.

Alternatively you can capture directly onto the netbook - I have had no problems (so far!) when recording to the system C: drive.

David: Sorry, can't help you with the audio problem!

P.S. the 4-pin FW connection on the camcorder is the weakest link in the whole setup - I use electrical tape to help secure it. Even still it once worked loose and capturing was interrupted. I quite like to have an external drive case with an LED that blinks when it's "working" - if it stops blinking then I know something is wrong without looking at the netbook's screen.

P.P.S. to date approx 20 hours of HDV successfully captured!
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Old July 5th, 2009, 10:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie Craig View Post
P.S. the 4-pin FW connection on the camcorder is the weakest link in the whole setup - I use electrical tape to help secure it. Even still it once worked loose and capturing was interrupted. I quite like to have an external drive case with an LED that blinks when it's "working" - if it stops blinking then I know something is wrong without looking at the netbook's screen.
I had a used XL1s where the firewire port had, through time, developed a bad contact simply from the movement of the firewire cable. I had to crack open the camera, re-solder the port to the PC board and apply gobs of hot glue to strenghten it.

Now I always tie the firewire cable to the camera to take the strain off the connection.


J.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #12
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Is there any software that supports monitoring HDV while capturing?
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Old August 6th, 2009, 04:19 PM   #13
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Is there any software that supports monitoring HDV while capturing?
HDVSplit apparently lets you monitor the capture if you have installed an MPEG2 decoder, like ffdshow http://sourceforge.net/projects/ffdshowt

More details on the HDVSplit website HDVSplit utility for HDV capturing with scene split - HDV capture utility

I haven't tried this myself, so I have no idea how close to realtime the monitoring is etc.. It is free though so probably worth a try?
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Old August 20th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #14
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Using an Eee PC as a disk recording device

I know many people have used laptops as direct-to-disk recorders, but has anyone here tried using Eee pc's? These are very cheap and lightweight laptops, but I just don't know if they have the processing power needed for the job.

Any insight into what kind of clock speeds/front side bus speeds are needed would be greatly appreciated!
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Old August 20th, 2009, 05:11 PM   #15
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Nevermind, Eee pc's don't have Firewire. I really wish netbooks came equipped with Firewire...
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