Greenshot is yet another recently released free screenshot tool for windows.
Key features of the Greenshot software include:
- Capture the entire or part of the screen
- Create annotations and highlights
- Save as a file, send to clipboard, or e-mail the captured file
In other words, this software is not much different than other screencap programs that we’ve reviewed. However, Greenshot has one thing that other applications do not – its’ source is released under the open GPL license meaning that this software can be used in a commercial application. Not bad for those that want to include good screen capture/annotation functionality in their custom software.
Greenshot is available for free at www.getgreenshot.org.
Here at ScreenCaptureNews, when it comes to software, we like everything that’s free, useful, and simple. A good example of an application that abides by those three rules would be Aviary. Think of Aviary as a tool for capturing screenshots of webpages, similar to FireShot, which we earlier reviewed.
How it works
The way it works is quite simple, just place www.aviary.com/ before the URL of the webpage that you would like to capture.
Once that is done, you will be taken to a loading page, it means that your capture was successful and the Aviary image editor is starting.
You will then be taken to a full-blown image editor, as pictured below. The features are pretty self explanatory. Once you are done editing, you may click on “save to desktop” or “save & host online,” depending on what you would like to do with your saved capture.
Advanced Screenshot Editor
The most amazing feature of Aviary is, by far, the advanced editor, pictured below. It can be accessed by clicking on “Advanced Editor” in the top right of the window.
Those that work with Photoshop will have an easy time adapting to the advanced image editor, which tries to replicate the Photoshop interface and functions with some features like layers, history, magic wand, smudge tool, liquify tool, freeform selection tool, and more. All these features definitely make this web based applet more advanced than most free screenshot editors which need to be installed. What’s more, Aviary works with all operating systems including Windows, Mac OS and Linux, and allows for direct uploading of an image to the Aviary web servers, where you can share it with others.
If you don’t have a webpage screenshot editing tool that you’re used to, or if you’re looking to try something new, I would definitely recommend Aviary. It’s easy to use, it’s free, and it’s packed with features that you won’t find anywhere else!
One of the most visited pages on our site is our massive and extremely informative feature comparison table for the world’s best VGA and DVI frame grabbers. Since it was created, some manufacturers have changed the specifications for their devices, while Epiphan Systems introduced the VGA2Ethernet frame grabber, which is now part of the table.
The first thing that you may notice is that the VGA2Ethernet has much higher specifications than any other frame grabber on the market. This is due to the fact that the VGA2Ethernet is a much more sophisticated device and, as such, is not really comparable to the other grabbers.
Why is the VGA2Ethernet different?
You can think of the VGA2Ethernet as a separate small computer equipped with a frame grabber. As such, it is able to function remotely. In other words, the VGA2Ethernet does not have to have close proximity to the target computer, as is the case with PCI or USB based frame grabbers. As shown below, the only requirement for the VGA2Ethernet is that it be on the same network as the target computer, and within proximity of the source that it is capturing the VGA signal from.
The fact that the VGA2Ethernet can be separated from the target computer distance-wise is not the only thing that makes this device different from others, however. By using the Gigabit Ethernet bus to transfer the images and a PowerPC processor paired with an advanced FPGA, the VGA2Ethernet is able to digitize images at resolutions up to 2048 x 2048 and, depending on the change in content from frame to frame, transfer them at up to 120 frames per second, making the VGA2Ethernet significantly faster than other any frame grabber available on the market.
Please click here to go to our complete VGA frame grabber review and specification page. Do not hesitate to contact us should you wish another product to be added to the table.
A good amount of free web-based screen capture solutions exist today, many of which we regularily review on this site. Today, however, ScreenCastle a new web-based video capture solution came to my attention.
- 100% free
- It is possible to record fullscreen or to choose the part of the screen to record
- Unlimited fullscreen resolution recording.
- Audio recording (from primary audio recording device such as computer mic)
- Unlimited video length
- Unlimited maximum number of videos
- No registration
Features like unlimited resolution, length, and number of videos truly make this applet stand out from the crowd. There is also an API provided for developers who would like to integrate this technology into their own websites and applications.
As soon as you open screencastle.com, you will see the huge red button to the right. That is what needs to be clicked in order to begin the screen capture.
After you click the button, a security warning comes up, you must accept it for the recording to work, as ScreenCastle needs to gain access to your computer. After that, ScreenCastle lets you choose if you would like to record your entire screen or just a part of it. You are also able to record from your mic by ticking the checkbox in the lower bottom of the window. Once you are finished configuring the recorder, the arrow at the bottom must be selected.
You will now see a black bar at the top of your screen. Click on “start recording” for the recording to start, and then go back to the top of the screen and select “stop recording,” then “save” in order to save your video. This is where I was disappoined. I attempted to record a minute of HD video and even though it was recorded, the video was unable to proccess, thus making ScreenCastle not all that it is made out to be.
I then went ahead an recorded some simple internet browsing with some standard definition YouTube video (near the end of the video). That didn’t work either. I tried recording 10sec of browsing a text webpage, and although it did get to the uploading step, the video never actually proccessed. I am assuming this is a temporary problem with the site and will be fixed. Once it is, samples of video recordings will be added.
Finally, assuming the uploading and processing does work, ScreenCastle gives you several ways to share your video:
- Link to watch (YouTube-like streaming Flash video)
- HTML embed code
- BBCode (for posting video to forums and message boards)
- Direct link to media file
- Preview images (for linking to video)
ScreenCastle is a great idea, is easy to operate, and seems to work smoothly until you get to the final step. No matter what scenarios and resolutions were thrown at it, ScreenCastle would not let me upload any of my recordings. As such, ScreenCastle’s video recording quality cannot really be judged until that bug is fixed.
ScreenToaster is probably the most exciting, easy-to-use, and feature packed free screen capture applet available. Today, the developers of ScreenToaster have announced that the Beta testing is over and that ScreenToaster 2.0 is available with the following new features:
- Live audio capture
– Embed webcam in screen capture
– Accelerated or slow-motion playback
– Pauses during recording
– Download the completed screencast (experimental)
– Redesign and improved content organization
– Personal profiles
The devs over at ScreenToaster are also promising an API and direct uploads to video sharing sites like YouTube, Veoh, DailyMotion, and others. If these features will be added, then ScreenToaster will be hands down the best free screen capture application available.
You can read our review of the ScreenToaster beta by following this link.
With current high end PCI-based and USB-based VGA frame grabbers pushing maximum capture rates of 60 frames per second, a VGA frame grabber that could capture at twice that rate seemed like a far-fetched idea… until today.
Already up for sale on this page, the VGA2Ethernet frame grabber claims to operate at a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200, at which it can capture at a maximum rate of 66fps. However, that number is 120fps for lower resolutions.
Typical of any frame grabber made by Epiphan Systems, the VGA2Ethernet is external, portable, and has the same recording, archiving, and broadcasting functions of its smaller siblings. You may find a detailed review of these functions in our Epiphan VGA2USB LR Review.
Unlike any other VGA or DVI frame grabbers, the VGA2Ethernet, as the name suggests, plugs into the Ethernet port of the target computer. While GigE and other machine vision frame grabbers have been using the Ethernet protocol for some while, emplying Ethernet in a VGA frame grabber is a first for the industry. VGA2Ethernet uses the Gigabit Ethernet protocol, which is what allows it to achieve such high transfer rates when compared to traditional USB or PCI frame grabbers.
Besides the capture rate advantage, using the Ethernet protocol also allows you to extend the distance between the actual frame grabber and the target computer, as long as both the grabber and the target computer are on the same LAN. A diagram is shown below (taken from Epiphan.com):
Stay tuned for more news and reviews as more information is released by Epiphan Systems about the VGA2Ethernet.
There are many screen captutre programs that capture webpages from web browsers, such as the popular FireShot software for Firefox that we reviewed earlier. However, FireShot captures what you see on your screen only, and does not actually save the enitre webpage, which can be several pages long, as an image file.
Web Screen Capture is a small and free utility for making screenshots of webpages in Internet Explorer. It differentiates itself from other capture utilities by performing only this function and nothing else.
Using Web Screen Capture on the following webpage:
You end up with this *massive* screenshot:
This can be useful if you want to save the entire contents of the page as an image file (Web Screen Capture does JPG, GIF, PNG and JPG) and not just an area of your screen.
Web Screen Capture does not need to be installed and weighs in at under 1MB in size. This means that it can be used on public computers which don’t allow the installation of external computer programs. As well, Web Screen Capture can automatically batch convert multiple webpages to images or be launched through the command line.
For those wishing to integrate webpage screen capture into their existing software, the command line interface of Web Screen Capture can prove to be very simple to implement. Best of all, it’s all completely free!
Do you need to print handouts or create hard paper copies directly from your presentation projector, PC, electronic microscope, navigation system, or any other VGA source? Even it today’s digital age, paper copies provide not only and easy way to distribute something (amongst a classroom, for example) but are also much more secure, and often cheaper, than any digital storage medium. For that reason, paper is still the primary method of archiving information in most parts of the world.
So what exactly do you need to print VGA to paper? There are several alternatives to be looked at. The cheapest, and least reliable, is using a simple VGA frame grabber coupled with a PC and a printer. This is a great alternative for those that already have a computer that is connected to a printer that they can use.
As shown in the diagram above, the VGA source is connected to the frame grabber which is tethered to the PC either through an internal PCI slot or external USB connection. A printer is connected to the computer. This can be a USB, parallel, wireless, or even a network printer. In order to perform the printing action, the user must navigate to the print function in the frame grabber’s software. Before buying a frame grabber, one must make sure that its software has full support for printing.
Since printing to paper does not require high frame rates, pretty much any frame grabber will be able to handle the task at hand. The most cost efficient one, at just under $300, is the Epiphan Systems VGA2USB. While it is not as advanced as the VGA2USB LR that we reviewed, the VGA2USB uses the same software as the VGA2USB LR, meaning that it fully supports printing. Please refer to our frame grabber specification table for complete specifications on the most common VGA and DVI frame grabbers manufactured to date.
Using a Dedicated Device
Imagine you are conducting a presentation and you need to give paper printouts to your audience of something they see on the screen. Suddenly, your computer freezes up and you are no longer able to produce the needed handouts.
For applications where printing from a VGA source is critical, a stand-alone device is much more reliable and easier to use than the setup described above. One such device is the Epiphan Systems VGA Printer.
The diagram above, taken from Epiphan Systems’ webpage, explains how a the VGA Printer works. Basically, the small VGA Printer replaces the frame grabber and PC entirely. The VGA-in of the VGA printer is connected to the equipment with the VGA output, while the USB or Ethernet is connected to a printer or network printer. The user then has a small control unit which controls when and how many printouts are to be made.
If you have any VGA source, whether it be a PC, a server, navigation equipment, or a projector, creating paper copies is easy with the use of frame grabbers or stand-alone dedicated devices. For those on a budget or those that don’t need to print often, the first “frame grabber” method of VGA printing costs only $300 for the frame grabber.
Those that depend on printing from VGA for critical tasks should prepare to shell out $1500 for the VGA Printer, as it is the only stable and reliable solution to converting a VGA video feed into physical paper.
Here at ScreenCaptureNews, we like all things that are simple to use and don’t cost an arm and a leg. ScreenToaster is a completely free exciting new web-based Java applet similar to ScreenCast-O-Matic. You can read our full review of ScreenCast-O-Matic here. While ScreenCast-O-Matic was an easy applet to use, we did find some problems, notably the ultra-low capture rate (~2fps), that took away from the usefulness of this application.
ScreenToaster is basically an online applet that records your screen or an area of your screen and then instantly publishes the recording to the web in Flash YouTube-like format for you to share with your peers or co-workers. This can come in extremely useful in situations where you need to demonstrate to someone how to use a piece of software, create instructional videos, or upload a video of your screen for others to see for troubleshooting purposes.
While ScreenToaster is still in Beta, you will need an activation key to use it. The activation key can be requested by going to the registration page of the ScreenToaster website. Once you have registered your user account and logged in, ScreenToaster will bring you to your control panel. From here, you will need to press “Start Recording” to launch the recording proccess. You will also be prompted to install the ScreenToaster Java applet, which you must accept.
Once you have clicked on “Start Recording,” ScreenToaster will display a small info box which explains how the software works. It is rediculously easy to understand and use. First, you must bring forward the application which you would like to record. Then, pressing “ALT + S” begins a recording of your entire screen, whereas “ALT + SHIFT + S” allows you to select an area of your screen to record. Finally, once you are done recording, “ALT + S” must be pressed again in order to publish the video.
Once you have finished recording (after pressing ALT – S), you will be taken back to the ScreenToaster control panel where you’ll be able to see your recording.
Using the three options on the left side of the video preview, you can add subtitles, audio, or change the preview shot of the video.
You must now name and describe your video. When you are done, click on “Publish”
Unfortunately, we at ScreenCaptureNews were unable to publish any videos due to the fact that it gave us an error every time that we hit “Publish”. The developers of the software wrote to us and said that, because the software is still in beta, bugs do pop up from time to time.
What we saw in the preview, however, was fairly decent. The frame rate was pretty good and it even recorded a video off of YouTube at about 20fps, which is a ten-fold difference between ScreenCast-O-Matic. ScreenToaster was also exceptionally easy to use and overall is a promising web applet.
The developers of ScreenToaster claim that the application works with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. ScreenToaster will always be free and will most likely be ad-supported once it is released to the general public. Tentative release date, according to ScreenToaster staff, is “end of October”. We’ll keep you posted with a full review once ScreenToaster is out of beta.
High resolution frame grabbers are devices that are used to capture the signal from a VGA or DVI stream and convert it into a readable computer format. In other words, frame grabbers take a high resolution video signal and relay it to the memory of the computer as digital data. What you do with that data, however, is entirely up to you. This article will list the top most useful applications for modern high resolution frame grabbers.
1. Archiving Images and Video
This is probably the most common use for frame grabbers today. All high resolution frame grabbers come packaged with an application that allows you to capture the VGA/DVI signal to old fashioned MPEG or AVI video as well as common JPG, BMP, or GIF images. Some applications even have support for live resizing of the captured output in order to decrease file size.
As well, if the frame grabber has WDM driver or Video4Linux support, the computer sees it as a high resolution camera, meaning that you can use any application, such as Windows Encoder, QuickTime Broadcaster, or Adobe Premiere to capture from your VGA or DVI source. Furthermore, SDKs and APIs released by manufacturers allow one to create custom applications and integrate the frame grabber into existing solutions, therefore automating the archiving proccess.
This diagram, taken from the Epiphan Systems website, shows how to use a frame grabber for recording images or video from any device with a VGA output while keeping the device’s monitor. The monitor can be omitted if the user does not need to view the output from the device.
Broadcasting isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking of frame grabbers. It is, however, one of the top uses for high resolution frame grabbers. You may not know it, but pretty much all manufacturers that sell boxes for broadcasting a high resolution video signals have integrated frame grabbers inside their devices.
In fact, you can build an equivalent to one of these video/VGA/DVI broadcasting boxes yourself at a fraction of the cost by combining any high resolution frame grabber with a PC. As an example, this process is described in the “Broadcasting” section of our Epiphan Systems VGA2USB LR review.
The simple diagram above explains how the broadcasting process works with a frame grabber. The VGA signal is digitized in real-time using the PC with PCI or USB frame grabber. Then, using webcast programs such as Wirecast, Windows Encoder 9, or QuickTime broadcaster, the digitized real-time video from the frame grabber is relayed over the internet to viewers worldwide.
This is an example of combining a technology that has been around for as long as computers existed (digital printing) with a fairly recent technology (frame grabbers). Why would you want to print to paper from the VGA or DVI output of a device? Often, a “hard copy” provides to be the most secure way of storing something.
Consider a situation where you are giving a presentation and would like to produce handouts for everyone on the spot. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just press a button and the contents of your screen got printed right away? Some manufacturers provide this feature in their software, while others (primarily Epiphan Systems) go as far as separate stand-alone devices dedicated to printing from a VGA screen.
The diagram above, taken from the Epiphan Systems website, shows how a frame grabber based VGA printer is connected to the source device. The VGA printer, shown in a black enclosure, can be replaced with a PC and frame grabber combination.
4. Web Conferencing
Distance collaboration forms the basis of many partnerships in today’s complex business environment. Several characteristics define a good web conferencing solution – reliability, ease of use, effectiveness.
Pairing a frame grabber with your conferencing software of choice can give you these three characteristics and more. Solutions like WebEx allow the user to share his or her webcam. Since most frame grabbers register as a high-resolution camera in Windows and Mac OS X, the user can simply point the program to transmit images from the frame grabber instead of from a webcam. This can be extremely useful when you want to share images from an external source other than the computer being used for the web conference. This can include anything from X-Ray imagery, live ultrasound scans or live GPS info to relaying live screenshots from a server or computer.
Epiphan Systems makes the VGA2WEB, which is a one-of-a-kind web conferecing solution with the primary goal of sharing a VGA signal. If VGA signal broadcasting and conferencing is critical to your application, then this may be a product you should seriously consider.
This diagram, taken from Epiphan Systems, shows how a presentation is broadcast in real-time to viewers on the web. The setup for web conferencing is identical to the setup for broadcasting. In the case of conferencing however, the user has a medium in which he/she can give feedback to the presenter.
5. Monitoring of Critical Systems
Most of today’s IT equipment has VGA or DVI outputs, many of which need to be monitored as they are critical to the functions of the organization which they support. Traditional methods of using VNC, converting the VGA to composite video, or having a separate monitor for each output have proven to be not only costly, but also not very reliable.
Unlike substitute solutions, high resolution frame grabbers are very scalable, meaning that many of them can be installed on one computer with one monitor output that will be used for central monitoring. Frame grabbers can also be mounted into a rackmount system and you will find that some manufacturers are ready to custom-build a rackmount frame grabber for you.
In the diagram above, several frame grabbers, each of which are connected to separate VGA sources, are attached to one computer. This computer displays the output from each VGA source on one monitor. As well, the computer can record, broadcast, or print from each of the sources in real time.