Computers can’t understand the analog waves that make up old VHS tapes and pre-DV camcorder videos. These curvy patterns contradict the binary world of “off” or “on,” so you need to digitize those sources before your Mac can “see” the picture. Pinnacle’s Video Capture for Mac is a fin-shaped box that handles this job—and little else. Plug in an analog video source, and the unit translates it into a 640-x-480-pixel MPEG-4 file your Mac can recognize. It works, but armchair archivists will immediately wish it had a few more features beyond its single trick.
Digital video recorders that connect to a TV rely on a hardware-and-software combination to capture and play shows—Mac DVR solutions are no different. Tuner hardware turns airborne signals or a cable feed into something the computer understands, but it’s the software that drives the user experience. Elgato’s EyeTV 3 app is designed to work with any of the company’s TV tuners, but it also supports hardware from a dozen companies, including some that only offer PC devices. The application presents the video window, allows browsing through a channel guide, lets you make basic edits to recorded shows, and more. While its interface could be improved, most of its functionality is intuitive, wringing every last feature out of your TV tuner hardware.
Sorenson Media’s Squeeze compresses video into file sizes aimed for the Internet, digital media devices, or DVD, and in formats such as QuickTime, Flash Video, and Windows Media. Essentially, there’s no flavor of video it can’t create.
Our level 10 knight battles a level 11 troll to become Lord of the Swamp. Practically everyone has played a board or two of Bejeweled, the match-three puzzle classic that sucks casual gamers in on Macs, PCs, consoles, iPods, and mobile phones. Puzzle Quest starts with the same gameplay, but adds strategy and RPG elements to keep things interesting.