Connecting analog camcorder to computer, home theater systems and music reproduction, auto-loading photo scanner from HP

Week 30, 2003

Q:     I bought a Canon ES75 Hi8 camcorder.   The guy who sold it to me said it could be hooked up to the PC so I can download, edit, and make my own videos. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. Can it be hooked up to the PC?   I hope so, now it is too late to return it.

-Shulee, address withheld

A:   Unfortunately, the salesman misinformed you.   Hi8 is an analog video format, not a digital video format, and the camcorder does not have a digital connection of any type.   Unless you have a special video-editing computer that can import analog video and convert it to digital video, you cannot connect your camcorder to your PC. Very few consumer computers have these analog video connections.  

All is not lost, though.   You can add a card to your PC that will provide analog audio/video inputs that can be used with your analog camcorder, or even with other video sources such as VCRs.   The best moderately priced model I know of is the Canopus ADVC-50, which sells for $199 and provides excellent quality video conversions.     You can see it at

For future reference, if you want to buy a camcorder that can be connected directly to your PC, look for a MiniDV or Digital 8 model.   Digital 8 is a good choice for you and other Hi8 owners because most Digital 8 models play Hi8 tapes and provide both a digital and analog signal simultaneously.   This eliminates the need for a separate converter, as well as allowing you to continue enjoying your Hi8 tapes.

Q:   Are home theater systems adequate for quality CD sound reproduction?     Can I replace my stereo system with home theater components?

-S Gratz

A:   Home theater components vary greatly in quality, just as any other products do.   It is certainly possible to get outstanding sound with them if you choose your components wisely, particularly the speakers.   The speakers are by far the most important part of the sound reproduction chain, and will largely determine what you system actually sounds like.

Many audiophiles, myself included, feel sound quality and fidelity has taken a step backwards in recent years.   Much of this is because of the widespread adoption of teacup-sized main speakers, which are used with a subwoofer.   While these tiny speakers are appealing to some because of their small size, they have serious limitations when it comes to sound reproduction.   Most of them are too small to adequately reproduce important midrange and bass frequencies, which produces an effect sometimes referred to as “midrange suck-out”. This term accurately, if inelegantly, describes their thin sound.   If you compared them directly to larger speakers in the same listening environment, you would hear the difference.   Few retailers have set-ups that allow you to compare this way.

The best compromise between size and sound is a bookshelf-sized speaker with a woofer that is 5 to 8 inches in size.   Used in conjunction with a subwoofer, you will get full, natural sound from low bass to high treble.  

To learn more about speakers and their importance in sound reproduction, be sure to check my website’s section on speakers, found at      
Q:   I have thousands of photographs I’d like to archive onto CD-ROM.   Is there anything available that I can load a stack of photos into, and it will automatically scan & save the images while I’m off doing other things?

-Steve Gooch, State College, PA

A:   Yes- the Hewlett-Packard Scanjet 5500C, at $299, has a small top-loading feeder for 3.5×5 or 4×6 inch photographs, as well as software to automate the process.

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