Dazzle Digital Photo Maker

SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that we're in the midst of a digital video revolution. If you're itching to be a revolutionary but don't want to spend $700 or more for a digital video camera, Dazzle Multimedia Inc.'s Dazzle Digital Photo Maker will let you capture videos and stills through a tiny $100 device that connects your Mac's USB port to any video camera or VCR. The Dazzle's image quality and playback performance are ideal for users who want to edit and distribute movies over the Web or on CD-ROM, although the Mac version of the software leaves something to be desired.

The Dazzle hardware is a tiny, translucent, Bondi blue box with a single USB port on one side and three video connections on the other. You connect your video camera to the Dazzle hardware using an S-Video or composite RCA connector; a video pass-through connection lets you hook the device up to a TV or an NTSC monitor.

The software allows bare-bones capture and cuts-only editing. After specifying video settings, you can play a video from your camera using the software's preview window. Clicking on the Capture Photo button grabs a single frame and stores it as a still image. For simple video editing, you can set start and stop points and then drag selected video clips to a rudimentary timeline for sequencing.

To delete a clip from the timeline, unfortunately, you have to hold down the shift key while clicking on the clip to open a pop-up menu-a very Windows-like approach. You get little or no visual feedback while dragging clips around, and the Dazzle lacks an audio editor or facility for adding music beds or voice-overs.

A simple editing and retouching tool lets you correct and change still images.

The Dazzle software is a competent editing environment, though the hardware's 320-by-240-pixel limitation for stills can prove frustrating. And rather than having to grab a still in real time, we'd prefer the ability to grab video and select a single frame to save.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Although the software needs some improvements and streamlining, the Dazzle Digital Photo Maker is a very good tool for aspiring Web and CD producers. If you need to create simple videos and don't want to spring for a FireWire-equipped digital video camera, this is a great place to start.

RATING: 3.5 mice

PROS: Can digitize video from any source; simple hardware.

CONS: Software doesn't allow additional audio tracks; un-Mac-like interface.

COMPANY: Dazzle Multimedia (888/436-4348, http://www.dazzle.com).

LIST PRICE: $100.

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