To USB or Not to USB


The Death of 1394

I use my 1394 (FireWire) MiniDV Camcorder.  It works great for controlling and transferring video.  It’s worked well for me for the last 6 years.

If I download from my tape camcorder using 1394, it takes 1 minute for every 1 minute of video.   Then I have to transcode/encode into an MPEG-2 (DVD) format which takes about another 30 seconds of video.  So it takes me about 90 minutes to transfer and encode a 60 minute video.

Camcorders and will go to hard drives, solid-state drives, and flash cards. 

1) All camcorders makers make a hard-drive based camcorder today, some with HD capabilities for $600 and up.   These have the best lenses and video quality. 

2) Cheap solid-state cameras are available for less than $100.  The storage is 60 minutes or less, but most people are shooting short amounts of video, 10 seconds to a few minutes, and not entire high school plays on these.   These tend to have the lowest quality, but are cheap and easy to use.  Like point and shoot video cameras.  A few HD versions are now available.

3) Pretty much all Digital Still Cameras have a video mode that shoots at least 30 frames a second.  I use this increasing for video.  I’m only limited by the lens brightness and autofocus.  I find the lenses are generally not bright enough, but I’m generally not looking for detail.

 The advantage to all of these options? The video is stored in a video file which can be transferred at whatever speed is available.  USB 2.0 does okay still takes many minutes to transfer the video, but it’s still less than the 90 minutes you see above.

I’ve also noticed 1394 disappearing from laptops and TVs.  Laptops have more and more USB ports.  I really like 1394, but I think it will disappear from laptops by 2010 as a standard feature, but will be standard on media PCs through 2012.  By then solid-state camcorders will be available with USB 3.0.

There will be no reason to put newer versions of 1394 on products.  You just won’t need it.

Thanks 1394.  You work great.  I love you for all you’ve done.  But my next HD camcorder will have USB 3.0.
In 3 years.  Maybe 4 years.

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