Review: ADS Pyro A/V Link
Posted Jan 2, 2004

Rounding out the trio of ADS (www.adstech.com) "breakout boxes" reviewed on EMedialive in January is Pyro A/V-Link ($279). The Pyro family of FireWire products includes several offerings, the latest being a high-end pro bundle at an eye-popping price—the $499 Pyro Professional, which includes Adobe Premiere, Audition, and Encore. All are based on ADS' OHCI-compliant Pyro FireWire technology. Despite its name, Pyro A/V Link is more akin to the other products reviewed here in that it's a consumer-oriented breakout box, but it uses FireWire instead of USB as the conduit between the box and the user's computer. What's more, it does not automatically compress the video into MPEG-2 format, but instead transmits it as full-quality DV-25.

Another distinguishing feature is that Pyro A/V Link is marketed to Mac users as well as Windows. Like Instant DVD+DV, A/V-Link combines a 4-pin FireWire DV input with S-VHS and RCA video and audio line-in jacks. A/V-Link also uses a Mode Switch button to toggle between digital and analog. Output options include FireWire, RCA composite, and component video, plus S-VHS.

The A/V Link box comes bundled with Ulead Video Studio DVD Edition for capture, editing, and DVD authoring and recording. No Mac software actually ships with the product, but the manual includes helpful tips on using the product with iMovie (which most Mac users likely to purchase Pyro A/V Link will have native on their machines) and Final Cut Pro.

The box and software installed easily on the testbed Compaq, and performed well with the Wilco VHS test tape and the same MiniDV footage captured in the Instant DVD+DV review. Naturally, video quality—though no slouch in the other tests—proved a little higher acuity here, captured in pristine DV format, or maybe it's just that you always feel better about working in an editing environment with DV instead of MPEG-2, and in the end, it looks better to you as well.

System Requirements, Windows: 800mHz Pentium 3 running Windows 98-XP; FireWire card installed.
Mac: All iMac, iBook, Powerbook, or G4 with FireWire port; OS 9.x, 10, or OS X/Jaguar.