In an unexpected move, Epiphan Systems unveiled its’ VGA2PCIe frame grabber today – a completely internal frame grabber based on the PCI Express bus. This move is unexpected because Epiphan specialized in external USB and Ethernet based devices.
The VGA2PCIe is a fairly basic 1-channel VGA frame grabber. At the same time, VGA2PCIe offers capture rates that are impressive to say the least. Let’s take a look at the advantages and shortcomings of this new device:
- No compression when transferring the from VGA to the PC, meaning that your computer will see the VGA signal in 100% lossless, raw quality.
- Capture rates vary between 35-85 frames per second, making this frame grabber ideal for high frame rate applications.
- VGA2PCIe is able to capture full HD (1920×1080) video at high frame rates.
- VGA2PCIe is based on 1x PCI Express, meaning it will fit in any PCI Express slot.
- For a price of $800, this is lower than other competing internal devices.
- Only one channel for VGA capture, although several VGA2PCIe devices can be installed on the same machine.
- No drivers for Linux or Mac, but Epiphan promises to add them in the near future.
- No audio input capture support, while other frame grabbers in Epiphan’s product line (like the VGA2Ethernet) support a stereo audio input.
VGA2PCIe is a strong contender in the internal frame grabber market. It should definitely be put under consideration if you are shopping for an internal VGA frame grabber. The specifications are impressive an Epiphan’s support has always been great.
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.
What makes software packages like Adobe Connect Pro, Cisco WebEx, and Microsoft Live Meeting useful is the ability to broadcast anything that is visible on the computer screen as long as you have one of these applications installed and running. However, there are situations where one cannot install a web collaboration/presentation software on a computer but still needs to broadcast the image from it. It is also possible that you are using a device or operating system that is incompatible with your favorite webcasting software. Perhaps you would like to broadcast from a document camera pod with a VGA or DVI interface.
Some situations where an external frame grabber is useful:
- When a network connection is lost, the presenters screen is still being recorded.
- There are not enough system resources to run Connect Pro, or the computer does not allow the installation of Adobe Connect Pro.
- Switching layouts- Once a layout has been switched, the computer sharing the screen in the previous layout needs to be activated again.
- Audio – When working with demos, the demo machine’s audio needs to have the Connect Pro audio installed, but muted (through the voice and camera pod) otherwise the session’s audio will echo.
- Bandwidth – Each demo computer needs to be logged into the Connect Pro meeting. When many computers/devices are connected to a Connect Pro meeting, too much bandwidth is “eaten up”.
- Unsupported devices – Since Adobe Connect Pro is normally only compatible with Windows and Mac OS X, adding a frame grabber allows you to use Connect Pro on any device with a VGA or DVI port.
In order to accomplish this, you would need to use a frame grabber connected to a Connect Pro capture computer. You would then launch the application that comes with the grabber on the computer with the VGA grabber and share it with Connect Pro. As long as the VGA source is connected to the grabber itself, then you’re ready to broadcast the image from it!
What frame grabber works best with Adobe Connect Pro?
There is no universal answer to this question and it really depends on what your capturing needs are. If you are looking for something cost-effective and do not need to broadcast an image with as lot of movement, then the Epiphan Systems VGA2USB will be enough. However, if you need to broadcast an HD or other high-quality imagery, then we suggest to look into the NCast DCC3.1, Epiphan VGA2Ethernet, or DVI2USB Duo.
For a detailed comparison and description of the most advanced high-resolution frame grabbers on the market, please refer to our frame grabber comparison table.
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.