Make sure digital camcorder has analog-compatible inputs

Help Line

April 10, 2000|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

My problem is choosing a camcorder so that I can use it with the new IEEE 1394 (FireWire) digital video cards for Windows PCs. Some have i.LINK DV interface and others have i.LINK IEEE 1394 digital video interface. I do not understand FireWire. The Canon Ultura has been recommended to me; would I be able to play my Sony analog tapes on this camera?

In this reviewer's strong opinion, backward compatibility with one's existing videotapes is the single most important feature in a camcorder for use with the glorious new home computer high-speed digital video editing feature known as FireWire.

These digital video systems turn PCs and Macs into video-editing stations that for a couple of thousand dollars can do as much or more than a $250,000 system could accomplish two years ago.

But unless you can use existing tapes, you must start from scratch, and you will be able to use only stuff shot with a digital camera. So you need a digital camcorder that includes the RCA input features that come with even the cheapest VCRs and analog camcorders.

This input lets you do things like make VHS copies of your camcorder films, copy VHS tapes, record the play in video games, etc. Sadly, the great bulk of digital camcorders now on the market are so expensive that makers most often omit RCA-in capacity to shave a hundred dollars or so from the sticker price.

The best deal I can find for a digital camcorder with analog-in powers is the $1,600 Canon Elura (not the Ultura you mentioned). You can find a digital camcorder without analog-in for less, but I guarantee you will regret it.

As to the first part of your question, just ignore the various names for digital video, because they are just efforts to slap a brand on equipment that conforms to the standard set for digital video devices by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

This standard, for example, allows video-editing software to take over the play, record and edit features built into a camcorder and operate the device from the computer to capture film clips for further editing.

It then allows the computer to return a finished movie to the camcorder for display on a television or digital projector.

How can I delete an unwanted program (Win Star) from my Program pop-up menu in Windows 95? It is not listed in my Add/Remove dialog box, and right-clicking the mouse doesn't work either. I would appreciate your advice.

It looks like Win Star already was deleted from your machine but that the uninstall process missed the icon once used to start it up from the Windows Program menu.

To exorcise this digital demon, right-click on Start instead of the normal left-click. This will bring up the Explorer module in Windows, where you will see a folder named Programs. Click it open, and you will find that errant icon for Win Star waiting to be deleted.

My grandmother's Christmas cookie recipes from Ireland are lost to us because they were entered into a program called Micro Cookbook for Windows 3.0 by Pinpoint Publishing. The files are .dbf and .cdx files, which were backup for the recipes I had entered. I am desperate to get this software and would like to know how I might obtain it so that I can get my grandmother's recipes.

I wrote rave reviews when Micro Cookbook came out, but, like you, I can no longer find this Windows 3.0 software for sale anywhere. The program was bought by another company that altered it substantially for a few years and then discontinued the product.

Fret not, however, because it turns out that the early software for Micro Cookbook by Pinpoint Publishing used the standard dBASE format for its main files, and so there are a wealth of programs that will at least open enough of your grandmother's recipes so you can print them.

The most commonly available software to read .dbf formats is Microsoft Works, where you can open the database module and then go to the "file open" command.

Find your Micro Cookbook files by choosing the "file type" of .dbf. While this will get you the gist of the recipes, don't expect things to be laid out neatly, because Works won't be able to read those accompanying .cdx files.

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