K0LEE.com Sitemap


Home
Aviation
HP FAQs
Other Hobbies
Work


HP dc3000/dc4000/dc5000 DVD Movie Writer FAQ/Knowledgebase

 
 


What's New in this FAQ/Knowledgebase?

TOPICS:


About this FAQ

This FAQ/Knowledgebase is operated by Lee Devlin and is  not officially sponsored by the Hewlett-Packard Company.  I set it up to work in conjunction with an on-line user group community of HP DVD Movie Writer owners and enthusiasts to help solve problems and share information.   I  was the  Systems Architect at HP for the HP DVD Movie Writer as well as the HP de100c Digital Entertainment Center and HP Media Vault, products for which I also maintain FAQ/Knowledgebases.     I left HP in after working there for 24 years and I am now an Engineering Consultant.  If you want to know more about me, you can view my profile on LinkedIn.  If you want to contact me, please use my contact page.


Adding LightScribe functionality to the HP DVD Movie Writer

LightScribe is a technology developed by HP that allows you to label specially-coated disks with the same drive you use to write the data.  It requires new drives and special media and is as simple as burn, flip, burn.  It produces professional quality monochrome labels with a choice of background colors.  HP offered LightScribe DVD drives as internal and external models known as the dvd640i and dvd640e respectively as well as follow-on models.  A version of the DVD Movie Writer is not available with a LightScribe drive so the only way to get it is to purchase a new DVD drive.  The software suite that shipped with the 640 series drives was very similar to the software that shipped with the HP DVD Movie Writers and both Showbiz and RecordNow applications will include LightScribe labeling capability.  The main problem is that the HP DVD Transfer Wizard is missing on the installation disks so once you install from the dvd640i CD, it would upgrade all your software, but the HP Transfer Wizard would be missing.  However, there is a way to enable it.  To do this, you should copy all the files off of the dvd640 Install CD #1 into a folder on your hard drive.  Then you need to edit one file called Setup.ini located in the Arcsoft_Showbiz folder.  In this file, you'll see a line with the following text:

CmdLine=-CPSSLand -0CAP -1LS -0K2

You can use Notepad or Wordpad to remove the -0K2 from that line above and save the file.   Then using RecordNow, create a new installation CD #1 by dragging these files and folders to the 'create data disk' panel of RecordNow and write the new CD.  Then you should uninstall RecordNow and Showbiz and reinstall them from the new installation CD you just created.  You should also install the SureThing SE Labeler from the CD #2 that comes with the dvd640 to get full labeling design flexibility.  After you've done this, the HP DVD Transfer Wizard won't be in the 'umbrella application' when you launch HP DVD, but can be accessed from the top button on the DVD Movie Writer, or from this menu location:

Start->Arcsoft Showbiz 2 DVD->HP Video Transfer Wizard

 If you want to make it more convenient, you can create a copy of that shortcut and then drag it to your desktop.

The dvd640 will work fine with the DVD Movie Writer whether it's installed as an internal drive or an external drive.  For those who are adventurous, you could even replace the drive inside the HP DVD Movie Writer with a dvd640i.  The procedures for disassembling the HP DVD Movie Writer are shown here.   However, if you do replace the drive inside the Movie Writer with a 640i (or any other drive), the drive activity light on the front panel of the Movie Writer will no longer work.  The firmware in the Movie Writer DVD drives has a special feature that allows the LED on the drive's front panel to be sensed from the IDE connector and most drives won't have that feature. 

The advantages of upgrading to an HP dvd640 drive would be that you'll get 16X DVD recording speed (vs. 4x max on the dc3000), DVD-R/RW media capability, DVD double layer recording, LightScribe support, as well as support for Dolby digital audio.


AFS2K.sys issues

The AFS/AFS2k driver is a part of a CD Recording engine from Oak Technology, Inc., (now Zoran, Inc.), maintained by Simpli Software, Inc. This CD Recording engine is used in several software applications, including HP's Memory Disk creator which is included with some HP cameras and scanners.  If you find that your computer is periodically hanging on startup due to the AFS2K.sys driver after installing the HP DVD Movie Writer software, it could be related to a bug in that driver that has since been fixed.  You can get a new version of the AFS2K.sys driver at Simpli Software.  In order to get your PC to not blue screen on startup, you may need to disconnect your optical drives until you upgrade the AFS2K driver.


Arcsoft Showbiz 2.0

Arcsoft Showbiz 2 combines video capture, editing, and DVD authoring all with a single easy-to-use interface.   The Showbiz 2 manual can be download in a .pdf of the manual from here or view it on line here

If you already have some familiarity with the concept of video editing, i.e., the functions of the storyboard, timeline, transitions, preview window, etc., it will look familiar to you.  However, if this is the very first time you're doing video editing, it can all look a little overwhelming so the tutorial will take a lot of the mystery out of it. 

There are also a lot of  useful tips available when you launch HP's umbrella application that comes with the HP DVD Movie Writer, (Double-click the HP DVD icon on your desktop or click Start, Programs, Hewlett-Packard, HP DVD, HP DVD.  Select the Learn tab and you'll find a Video How-To and an On-line user guide.


Arcsoft Showbiz Updates


The downloadable upgrades for Showbiz 2.1.0.67 are now available for both the dc3000 and dc4000 from the HP website.  Just go to www.hp.com and search on dc3000 or dc4000, depending on which model you have, and you will see a link called 'download drivers & software'.

Make sure to choose the correct language when you choose the OS since the downloads have been split up into the different languages to reduce their sizes.

The instructions on the upgrades indicate that they are either for upgrading version 2.0.0.130 to 2.1.0.67 in the case of the dc3000 or upgrading version 2.1.0.43 to 2.1.0.67 in the case of the dc4000.  If you have some other version, it may not work and if you get an error to that effect, you can reinstall Showbiz from the installation CD.   In the case of the dc3000 you may need to first apply the 2.0.0.130 patch which is also available from the hp web site. 

The dc5000 shipped with Showbiz version 2.2.2.35.   The main difference with version 2.2.2.35 is support for Dolby audio.  A zip file to create a dc5000 installation CD is linked below Alternately, you can order for around $10  from www.hp.com by searching for 'hp dvd movie writer dc5000' and following the link for software and drivers.  The dc5000 installation CD will work with all HP DVD Movie Writers including the dc3000 and dc4000.

If you are experiencing problems with the Transfer Wizard crashing, and getting a message "Showbiz has encountered and error and must close" which identifies the module vobapi.dll, here is a new version of vobapi.dll that has fixed the problem on some systems.   Please note that this version is only compatible with Showbiz 2.2.2.35 or greater and that the version number of the vobapi file is 1.0.0.34 which is the same as the one that shipped with Showbiz.  The only way to tell them apart is to look at the file size.  The old one is 108KB and the new one is 124 KB.  Just rename the old one to something like vobapi.dll.old and copy this new one in the Showbiz folder (C:\Program Files\Arcsoft\Showbiz DVD 2\) to replace it.

Another thing you can try if you're having a vobapi crash is to increase Virtual Memory size.  Try increasing the size of your virtual memory to a minimum of 1024MB with a max of 4096MB.   The virtual memory size can be changed using the following sequence Start->Control Panel-> System -> Advanced -> Performance Settings -> Advanced -> Virtual Memory -> Change -> Initial Size 1024,  Maximum Size 4096 -> Set.

Graham L. has provided the following links to updates that can be applied in succession  to bring Showbiz up to the very latest version.  Please note that these patches can only be applied to the version of Showbiz version 2.2.2.35 that shipped with the dc5000 (which is compatible with the dc3000 and dc4000).  If you don't have a dc5000 installation CD, you can first download and and unzip this file to burn a dc5000 installation CD (warning: that zip file is a 640 MB download. You may wish to compute its MD5SUM to make sure it downloaded cleanly. The MD5SUM for the dc5000disk.zip file is 3079f7dc572e7ec657a900f1878ee06b ) and then apply the patches below.  Please note that you must have Showbiz version 2.2.2.35 or these patches won't work:

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/showbizdvd2_2.2.2.35_2.2.2.36_update_e.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/ShowBizDVD2_2.2.2.36_2.2.2.46_Update_All.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/ShowBizDVD2_2.2.2.46_2.2.2.47_Update_All.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/showbizdvd_2.2.2.47_2.2.2.53_update_e.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/showbizdvd_2.2.2.53_2.2.2.69_update_e.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/showbizdvd_2.2.2.69_2.2.2.81_update_e.exe

http://www.arcsoft.com/downloads/showbiz2/arcsoft/ShowbizDVD_2.2.2.81_2.2.2.107_Update_ALL.exe

Please reboot after each update and then check for updates from the Extras menu until you receive a message stating that you are on the most current version.


Audio Echo Issues

Some dc3000 users have reported audio echo problems.  The first thing you should determine is if the audio problem is in the .mpg file before it's written to DVD by watching and listening to the video in the preview window.  If that's the case, it could be a problem with the interaction of another program such as the Windows Messenger with the video capture process.  This issue is explained in the readme.txt file that you may have read during installation.   Try shutting down any background tasks such as virus scanners, instant messengers, or popup killers.  Also,  make sure the PC isn't set up to go into a hibernate or standby mode when there's no keyboard activity because you don't want it to try that while it's capturing video.  Laptops are particularly likely to have power management options enabled to conserve battery life so be sure to check the power management options in the BIOS and control panel and turn them off while capturing video.

Another possibility is that you are running at USB 1.1 speeds and have selected a bit rate that USB bus cannot sustain (such as video capture rates of 6 Mbps or more).   To find out more about USB issues go to that section of the FAQ.  If you're unsure that your USB interface is running at its maximum speed, try capturing video at 10Mbps in Showbiz.  This can quickly show whether or not your interface is running at high speed because  if it is running a lower speed (i.e., 12 Mbps), it  will drop a lot of frames at that rate and show macroblocking which looks like a checkerboard effect on the video.  Another way to test your USB speed is to perform a DVD writing speed test.

It's also important to make sure that your audio and video drivers are updated to the most recent revision for your hardware.   You can do this by going to the Device Manager and selecting the option that allows you to upgrade your drivers.

Yet another possibility for garbled audio is that the tape has sections on it that cause the valid video LED to flicker on the front of the HP DVD Movie Writer.  If there are sections of video that have fast forwarding or rewinding and you notice that the audio echo starts after those segments, you should check out this section of the FAQ


Audio goes away unexpectedly during capture

If you have noticed that your audio is going away unexpectedly while capturing with Showbiz, it is likely to be related to an interaction with Windows Messenger.  You can check to see if Windows Messenger is running by looking for a small icon in the lower right hand corner of the screen.   It may be necessary to open this task tray by clicking on the blue dot in the lower right hand corner of the screen that looks like this:  .   The Windows Messenger Icon looks like this: .  The little x in the red dot may or may not be present.  You can also see this program in the Task Manager processes list which can be launched with by holding down one <ctrl><alt><del> keys simultaneously.  The process is called msmsgs.exe.   Windows Messenger can be very difficult to eradicate since Microsoft tries to launch it on startup and sometimes will re-enable it to launch on startup during an update, even if you've already disabled  it.   To keep it from launching on Startup, right click on its icon  and select, Open-> Tools-> Options -> Preferences and uncheck the boxes for "Run this program when Windows Starts" and "Allow this program to run in the background".  If you find that Showbiz is still losing audio after a few minutes of recording,  it could be because Norton Antivirus is launching Windows Messenger automatically to monitor its traffic.  If so, open up Norton Antivirus 2003, click "Options" at the top, then Instant Messenger in the left panel, then un-check the MSN Instant Messenger box.  This will prevent NAV2003 from trying to launch it during capture.  If you still see it msmsgs.exe firing up unexpectedly, search for it and change its name to msmsgs.bak.  That will stop it.

Microsoft has informed us that this problem is fixed in DirectX 9.0b.  To tell what version of DirectX you're running, go to Start->Run-> type in dxdiag ->OK.  DirectX 9.0b has a build number of 4.09.0000.0902.   If you don't have version 9.0b, you can use Windows Update to install it or get it here.   The latest version of DirectX is 9.0c build number 4.09.0000.0904.


Audio sounds "tinny"

If you have a dc3000 and are running the original software or version 2.0.0.130 and noticed that your audio sounds a little "tinny" during musical performances after editing with Showbiz after being written to DVD, there is an update to 2.1.0.67 that will help.  For those who want to mix music in with their videos, especially music with pure tones like pianos and wind instruments, the update will prevent re-sampling distortion that comes from using Microsoft's standard re-sampling filters.  This issue does not affect videos that are captured with the Transfer Wizards or the original .mpg capture files since they have no re-sampling done to the audio between capture and exporting to the DVD.


Audio Synchronization

Some HP DVD Movie Writer owners have noted that the audio track appears to be slightly out of synch with the video while capturing certain video tapes.   Increasing the audio settings from 224 Kbps/48 KHz to 256 Kbps/48 KHz or higher can be helpful in keeping the audio and video in better synchronization with each other and helping reduce the potential for audio echo.   To change this setting, launch Showbiz 2.0 (Start->Programs->Arcsoft Showbiz 2->Showbiz) and set it up for video capture. In the lower left had side of the screen, you'll see a box called 'Video Device' that should have the HP DVD Movie Writer in it. Next to it, a button called 'Setting'. Select that button and go into the Audio Properties and change the bit rate to 256 Kbps or higher.

Also, if your computer isn't fast enough to keep up with the video capture, you could be losing frames which may cause the video and audio to fall out of synchronization.  Make sure your computer meets the dc3000's minimum requirements

Another thing to try is to take the .mpg file to another computer and play it back to make sure that the delay isn't caused by a delay between the video and audio filters on the PC you're using.  Some PCs have audio processors that have to buffer up some amount of data to perform 3D  effects, so if those functions are enabled, it could also lead to the impression that there is a synchronization problem in the .mpg file when it's actually in the PC.


Cardbus/PCMCIA USB 2.0 adapters

Cardbus/PCMCIA USB 2.0 adapters pose some of the most challenging issues to date.   If you have a laptop that has only USB 1.1 ports, the only way to get USB 2.0 capability is to install a Cardbus/PCMCIA USB adapter.    It sounds simple, but often times it's asking for trouble.  If you're having problems with a Cardbus/PCMCIA USB 2.0 interface, here are some things you should check: 

1.  See if your Cardbus adapter has something other than a NEC chipset (eg., ALi or VIA)  If it's an ALi chipset, you should replace it with one that has an NEC chipset.  We've never had one of the ALi  cards work with the HP DVD Movie Writer for more than the time it takes to capture a movie or write a disk.  If it is using an NEC chipset, make sure you have the latest USB drivers as explained here.

2.  Check to see if your laptop manufacturer has a new BIOS available for your laptop.  A part of the driver for the PCMCIA interface driver is in the BIOS.

3.  If the Cardbus/PCMCIA interface has an auxiliary power source, please use it.  These devices sometimes need that power source (which will come from a PS/2 port cable or power cube) to work reliably.

4.  See if there are any new drivers available for your PCMCIA interface.  You can find this in the device manager under the category of PCMCIA adapters. 

Laptop computers are usually not very well suited for video editing especially one that is old enough that it doesn't have USB 2.0 ports built in.  Even an inexpensive desktop PC will run rings around a laptop costing twice in terms of performance and ease of use for video editing.  If you have a very high performance laptop with built-in USB 2.0, then it should be OK.


Compatibility Mode Setting

The HP HP DVD Movie Writer and other HP DVD drives have a utility that can change a bit on the disk to improve its compatibility with older DVD players when using +RW media.  Basically, the utility can be used to tell the player that the media is read-only media when set to 'alternate' mode 2 since the player may have been manufactured before re-writable media became available and doesn't understand re-writable mode media.  If you are having trouble reading your +RW disks in your home DVD player, you might consider switching the disk to the alternate compatibility mode (i.e., from mode 1 to mode 2) to see if it helps.  This method is explained on the HP website here.  The compatibility bit setting can be found by clicking Start, Programs, Hewlett-Packard, HP DVD, HP Compatibility Setting.


Computer Hang/Reset issues

If you're experiencing a computer hang or reset while doing anything with the HP DVD Movie Writer, it could be an indication of a driver interaction problem.   To help pinpoint the cause of it, you should have your computer set up to 'blue screen' instead of automatically rebooting.  To do this, right click on my computer, click the Properties, Advanced tab, and under the Startup and Recovery section, click the Settings button.  Then deselect the Automatically Restart option under the System failure  section (i.e., remove the check mark from its box). This will cause the blue screen to be displayed instead of rebooting the PC.  The information on the screen may pinpoint which driver is crashing.

You should make sure you have the latest drivers on your system especially for the audio, video, USB interface, or any other hardware involved in the capture process.  You can find out what hardware you have by  launching device manager, or by looking at the system information.  To launch device manager, right click on My Computer, select Properties, Select Hardware and then select  the Device Manager  button.  You can then select the display adapter.  Do the same with the audio and USB controllers. 

To get the system information, click Start--> All Programs --> Accessories--> System Tools --> System Information.  You can then click on components, and select the " Display" and "Sound Device" to get specifics on these two.  Once you have this info, go to the manufacturer's web site, and verify you have the most recent drivers.  It's also a good idea to check up on any devices with a yellow exclamation point in the Device Manager and see why its driver isn't being loaded.

You should also make sure you're running the latest service packs from Microsoft.  These service packs often include fixes for known driver interaction problems.  To get these updates make sure you're connected to the Internet and click Start-->Help and Support-->Windows Update (under Pick a Task)-->Scan for Updates.  This will allow you to select and download all the updates relevant to your PC's configuration.


Copy Protection

The HP DVD Movie Writer recognizes Macrovision copy protection on commercially produced video tapes and will allow the image to be previewed, but not to be copied.  A message will flash up on the screen when Macrovision is encountered during recording and tell you that 'The source video is copyright protected, video capture will not resume'.   It has been reported that copy-protected tapes will result in a "distorted picture and a soundtrack marred with pops and clicks" but that is not correct.  It will simply refuse to copy the tape.   Not all commercial tapes use copy protection and so there are commercial videos  that can be copied and preserved  to DVD.  There are products available that remove Macrovision, but they are generally described as 'color correctors' or 'copyguard remover' since it is illegal to sell a product in the U.S. that is advertised as a means of disabling Macrovision copy protection.


Cutting Video into smaller clips

Although the Showbiz on-line tutorial and downloadable .pdf manual can get you started, they don't cover all of the editing tools you can use to manipulate video with Showbiz.  Perhaps the most overlooked tool is the razor tool that lets you cut the video into smaller clips.  Shown below is a section of the Showbiz editing screen on how to use this tool:

You can use this technique to re-arrange the order of the scenes in a video or completely delete whole scenes from the video.   The scissor icons shown in the preview window allow trimming from either end of a video, but to rearrange or delete scenes, the razor is the tool you'll need.  You simply cut the video into as many clips as you like and then can drag and drop them over each other on the storyboard to rearrange them.  Remember, this has no effect on the input files so you're not actually modifying the videos in the library.  These are just edits that get applied  when  you use the 'export' or Create to make a new video from the source videos.   The source videos are left untouched. 

Another way to access this feature is to right click on the video image after you've placed the slider and select 'split' from the pop up menu which will perform the same function as the razor, namely splitting the clip in two.  This comes in handy if the razor blade icon stops working.  There's a transient bug in the Showbiz 2.2.2.35 that sometimes launches the DVD menu instead of splitting the video.


Disabling IMAPI

IMAPI is an application included with XP that allows you to drag and drop files onto a CD/DVD writer from Explorer and it will queue up the operation until you're ready to write the CD.  Unfortunately, it can interfere with other writing programs like Nero or RecordNow, so it's best to disable it.  You can tell if its running by looking in the Task Manager for a process called imapi.exe.  

Turning of IMAPI.exe can solve 'Drive in use by another program' problem with Nero.  To turn off  IMAPI, start up your Control Panel. If you are in "Category View", change to "Classic View" (you'll see the button in the upper left of the screen). Click on "Administrative Tools", then "Services". Scroll down to "IMAPI CD_Burning COM Service", double click on it, check to see if you are on the General Tab, and then Scroll the "Startup Type" to "Disabled", click on "Apply" and you're all done.


DLA (drive letter access)

Prior to the introduction of the HP DVD Movie Writer, HP included a program with CD/DVD writers that allowed file 'drag and drop' capability from the Windows operating system.  These programs are sometimes known as 'packet writers'.   HP's version is called HP DLA.  HP DLA makes CD-RW/DVD+RW disks behave more like a floppy disks where you can add and delete files on the disk directly from Windows Explorer.  To take advantage of this feature, a special program that operated in the background was necessary to help format and manipulate the file systems on the CDs.   Other programs such as Nero's inCD and Roxio's DirectCD (aka Drag-to-Disk) also offer drag and drop features, but they are incompatible with HP's DLA as well as with each other.  Due to the increasing number of programs including CD/DVD writing engines from competing companies, the potential to have interaction problems began to increase.  For this reason, HP decided not to include DLA with the HP DVD Movie Writer.  It is still available for downloading from HP's website (search hp.com for 'DLA') but there is always a potential for interaction issues with any other CD/DVD writing programs that may be installed on your computer.  If you have one of these programs installed on your computer and are not using it, it would be a good idea to remove it with the 'Add or Remove Programs' feature of the Control Panel in Windows, especially if you are having any trouble writing disks.


Device disappears during capture

If the HP DVD Movie Writer is disappearing in the middle of a capture  and the OS tells you that the device is unavailable or is in use by another program, and you can't see it again until you reboot the system, you might be having a problem with signal integrity on your USB bus which can cause the HP DVD Movie Writer, or any high speed device for that matter, to fall off the bus.  If your USB cable is plugged into the front of your computer, switch to a connector on the back of the computer since the internal wiring between the motherboard and front panel of  the computer can adversely affect signal integrity.  If you are using an external USB hub, try removing it and connecting directly to the PC.  If you are using a USB cable other than the one that came with the HP DVD Movie Writer, make sure it is a USB cable that is high-speed certified.

Another test you can perform to check  the integrity of your USB system is to play a commercial DVD on the HP DVD Movie Writer.  You shouldn't have any problems with its playback like freezing up or dropping off completely.  If you notice that it always seems to happen after a period of no keyboard activity, make sure to check your Power Options in the Device Manager to make sure the PC isn't set to go into sleep or hibernate mode.  Also, in the Device Manager open up the properties on the USB Root Hub where you have the Movie Writer connected to make sure it isn't set to power off the devices under the Power Options.

You should also check to see the type of USB interface you have since there are some that are known to be problematic as explained in the USB 2.0 section of the FAQ.


Device Drivers for the HP DVD Movie Writer

The original HP DVD Movie Writer dc3000 shipped with a device driver for the capture device which is shown under the "Sound, video, and game controllers" in the Device Manager as the HP DVD Movie Writer.   A new driver has been released for it which is more robust in keeping locked on to the video signal.  In order to get the latest device drivers for the capture device, you can visit this page, or use Windows Update.  The way to check the device driver revision level is also shown in that page.  

If you'd like to use Windows Update instead then select, Start->Help and Support->Keep your computer up-to-date with Windows Update->Scan for Updates.   If your DVD Movie Writer is not up-to-date, you will find the update under 'Driver Updates'.  Follow the instructions on how to download and install it.

This latest version has a file dated 12/29/2003 and is version 1.1.1.0.  The original driver was dated 8/5/2003 and was version 1.0.7.0.   After installation, the device should show up as the HP DVD Movie Writer dc3000/dc4000 or simply as an HP DVD Movie Writer.  The dc4000 and dc5000 shipped with the 1.1.1.0 driver.


Drive Not Detected

If you cannot see a HP DVD 300n, 300c, 420n, or 630c USB Device in the device manager (under the DVD/CD-ROM category) within a few minutes after connecting your HP DVD Movie Writer, you might have a hardware problem.  The first thing you should try after connecting the HP DVD Movie Writer is to read a CD with it.   If you cannot read a CD you might have a hardware problem and it may require that you exchange your HP DVD Movie Writer for another one.  Also, if the drive is periodically disappearing with the message 'Mass Storage Device Error Code 10', it's also an indication that drive is having problems and the best solution would be to exchange your HP DVD Movie Writer for a new one.  If you want to try to troubleshoot it further you can find some more troubleshooting information here.

To get to the Device Manager,  right click on 'My Computer' and ask for Properties.  Then select Hardware, Device Manager.  Click on DVD/CD-ROM drives and look to see if you can find a device called the HP DVD 300n,  300c, 420n or 630c USB Device.  When the video capture drivers are properly installed, you should two separate devices as pictured here.


Drive firmware revision level

To check the drive firmware level,  launch the HP umbrella application that came with the HP DVD Movie Writer.  This can be done with Start, All Programs, Hewlett Packard, HP DVD, HP DVD, or double click HP DVD icon on the Desktop, and  you'll see a tab on the top of its screen that reads, 'Support'. Select that tab and you'll see a menu item called 'HP MyDrive'. Select this and then select you Movie Writer's DVD drive.   Normally, there is a process running in the background called DVDTray.exe that periodically checks for new drive firmware.  It will notify you if new firmware has become available and will suggest that you download and install it.  However, if you want to check to make sure the drive is at the latest revision, click on the box entitled 'Check for firmware update'.   Below is a table that shows the latest firmware revision for each type of drive that you will find in the HP DVD Movie Writers.

Drive type DVD Movie Writer Firmware revision level Date of  firmware release
HP DVD 300n dc3000 Revision 3.20 2004-03-31
HP DVD 300c dc3000 Revision EK24 2004-03-22
HP DVD 420n dc4000 Revision 1.33 2004-11-30
HP DVD 630c dc5000 Revision CH16 2005-02-22

Once you've updated your drive's firmware, the computer and drive will need to be powered off and back on in order to finish the firmware upgrade.  The utility will power down and restart the computer automatically, it's up to you to power down and restart the Movie Writer.

Firmware updates are generally done to add writing strategies for new types of DVD+R/RW media as they become available. Therefore, if you're having any trouble writing to certain brands of media, then new firmware may help to solve that problem.

RecordNow is installed at the time you install the DVD Movie Writer software and must be on the PC for the drive firmware update to work. If you've uninstalled RecordNow to replace it Nero or Roxio or some other writing program, you will need to re-install it at least temporarily to update the drive's firmware because the download routine needs to use its ASPI layer to send commands to the drive.


DVD Write Errors

If you find that you are getting write errors when trying to write to the HP DVD Movie Writer's drive, it could be a result of several causes.  One is that there is DVD burning engine on the computer that is interfering with the RecordNow or Showbiz software.  If you notice that the problems coincide with installing some other software that writes to the DVD drive, try to remove it to see if the problem goes away with it.    Another potential source is that you may have a USB 2.0 interface that is generating bus errors due to signal integrity, driver, or chipset problems.  We've had several reports of cards based on the ALi USB 2.0 chipset causing problems with writing to DVDs.  These problems are currently under investigation.  You can try a few things to isolate the problem, including moving the HP DVD Movie Writer to a USB 1.1 port, to see if the writing problems go away.   You might also try a different USB 2.0 card.   The USB 2.0 cards based on Via and NEC chipsets have proven to be very reliable with the HP DVD Movie Writer provided you have the latest USB 2.0 drivers for them.   Also, motherboard chipsets based on Intel have been proven to work well with the HP DVD Movie Writer.  You should also make sure that your USB 2.0 card is using the very latest EHCI drivers from Microsoft.  Here is a page that explains how to check them.

If you do use the USB 1.1. ports, you may see a some warnings about plugging a High Speed device into a Non-High Speed USB interface but these are just warnings.  You can still use the HP DVD Movie Writer, although you might experience a few performance issues.  It will take longer to write the disk, but could help to identify a USB 2.0 interface/driver problem with your computer.

If you find that Showbiz is hanging at the end of a large capture during the write process you might also try  increasing the size of your virtual memory to a minimum of 1024MB with a max of 4096MB.   The virtual memory size can be changed using the following sequence Start->Control Panel-> System -> Advanced -> Performance Settings -> Advanced -> Virtual Memory -> Change -> Initial Size 1024,  Maximum Size 4096 -> Set.


DVD Media Issues

You should not use store brands or generic brands of media with your HP DVD Movie Writer.  Stick with known brands such as HP, Maxell, Verbatim, etc.    The explanation of why you should do this is rather lengthy and you can read it here if you're curious.


DV/Firewire support

Digital video (DV) camcorders capture video to tape in a digital format.  If you already have a Firewire (i.e. IEEE1394) interface on your computer, you might want to transfer the video digitally to the computer instead of converting the analog output of the camera with the HP DVD Movie Writer.  The Arcsoft Showbiz will capture directly from the 1394 interface. DV files are much larger than MPEG2 files (about 5 times as large) so each hour of video will take roughly 13 GB of disk space.  DV files are stored in AVI format, which is slightly easier to edit because there is no interframe video compression, but it will take longer to transcode the file to MPEG2 when you're ready to author the DVD.  A general rule of thumb is that it takes about 1 hour of CPU time to compress 1 hour of DV to MPEG2 if you have a PC with a 2.5GHz P4 CPU.  Slower computers will take proportionally more time.  Another option is to use the analog outputs of the DV camera and compress to MPEG2 directly on the HP DVD Movie Writer's analog inputs.  Provided that you use a sufficiently high bit rate (~7 Mbps), the resulting DVD may be even better in quality to the all-digital method and the authoring step will be much faster  if you use SmartRendering.


File Size Limits

If you are running a FAT32 type file system, your maximum file size cannot exceed 4GB.  This limit is not difficult to exceed during video capture. For example, at a capture rate of 8 Mbps, you'll hit it in about 70 minutes and so if you intend to capture any files larger than that, it would be best to use the NTFS file system, which has a file size limit of 16 terabytes and should handle most video capture needs.  To check your file system type, go to My Computer and right click on the disk icon and select Properties.  There are utilities in Windows to help you convert a FAT32 partition to an NTFS partition.  So if you are noticing some unusual behavior when your files approach 4GB, try converting to NTFS if your disk is formatted as a FAT32 disk.


Hardware design

The HP DVD Movie Writers use the Cypress AT2 IDE-ATAPI bridge that is used on all other HP USB2.0 external DVD+RW drives.  This product will appear as two devices in the Device Manager on Windows, as described in this section.  There is also an integral USB 2.0 hub which provides another external downstream USB2.0 port so when you plug this device into your computer, you won't lose any USB ports.  You can use the downstream port for portable devices like cameras and flash drives.

The video compression hardware consists of a Philips SAA7115 video A/D, a Cirrus Logic CS53L32 audio A/D, and a Conexant CX23416 MPEG encoder. .


Installation CD download

If you don't have a DVD Movie Writer installation CD, you can download and and unzip this file to burn a dc5000 installation CD. (Warning: that zip file is a 640 MB download). You may wish to compute its MD5SUM to make sure it downloaded without errors. Free MD5SUM utilities are available on the Internet for downloading. Please search Google to find one if you don't have one already. The MD5SUM for the dc5000disk.zip file is 3079f7dc572e7ec657a900f1878ee06b.

Although it is a dc5000 Installation CD, it will work just fine with the dc3000 and dc4000. The software will install and run on Windows XP but has some issues with Vista and Windows 7 as explained in those sections of the FAQ. It will not work on 64-bit systems because the driver for the video capture device is compiled for 32-bit systems only.

The setup.exe file at the root of the CD is set to autorun on computers that are configured with Autorun enabled, but in the event that the CD doesn't automatically start installing, you can open it up with Windows Explorer and double-click on setup.exe. Please note that setup.exe will not start properly from a folder on your hard drve, in case you're trying to install the programs without burning a CD. However, the individual programs, namely Showbiz DVD, Sonic RecordNow, and PowerDVD will install by executing their respective setup.exe files which are located in their folders even if they are stored on the hard drive. I don't recommend installing the Muvee software, as it is a trial version only.

If you're looking for a way to burn the CD, I'd recommend InfraRecorder, a free downloadable CD burning program. It works much better than the Windows internal CD burning tools and will burn DVDs as well.


Known bugs

The version of ArcSoft ShowBiz 2 that shipped with the dc3000 (version 2.0.0.124) had a bug when using Smart Rendering when video clips have been edited.  It will fail at the stage where it writes to the DVD if you edit the video.    SmartRendering can prevent the mpeg file from being transcoded again so it will take longer to prepare the files for the DVD without it.  The temporary work around was to disable SmartRendering.

The patch to fix this bug which upgrades Showbiz from version 2.0.0.124 to version 2.0.0.130 can be downloaded here but it would be best to follow the procedure in this section to get the very latest updates to Showbiz.  It is highly recommended that you download this patch and enable SmartRendering for the best video image quality and conversion speed. Rather than use that update, if you have Showbiz 2.0.0.124, it would be better to download the Install CD for the dc5000 and use that instead, since it has a newer version of Showbiz on it


Minimum Requirements

(from the dc3000 spec sheet)

  • minimum system requirements: 800MHz Intel Pentium III processor or equivalent, 128MB RAM (256 recommended for video editing), 1024x768 video resolution with a minimum of 16 bit color required for video capture, authoring, & editing, USB interface
  • minimum hard disk space requirements: 550MB free for included software installation, 10GB free for DVD video disc creation
  • operating systems: Microsoft Windows XP, 2000 Professional SP2 (Latest service packs recommended)
  • interface: USB interface and drivers required by your operating system
  • internet connectivity: recommended for software updates and drivers

Please note that those are the minimum system requirements.  If you want to avoid frustration while editing your videos, you should increase the minimum  to a P4 1.3GHz, 256 MB RAM, high speed USB 2.0 and 30GB of free disk space.  The  more powerful your CPU and the more memory you have in your computer, the better it will work for video editing/DVD authoring.


Muting the Audio Track in Showbiz

Showbiz has the ability to capture a video without the audio track by unchecking the Audio device which shows up separately as the HP DVD Movie Writer, but it has been reported that if you do this, the resulting mpg file will exhibit strange behavior such as being very slow to load or giving errors if you import it to another application.  In the case where your original video has objectionable noise and you need to mute it, it would be best to either capture with the audio cables disconnected or subsequently mute the audio track while editing the video.


Power Supply Issues

Some of the rev2 power supplies will only allow the dc3000 to power up properly only if you first plug the cord into the AC power source and then into the back of the dc3000.   This only affects power supplies operating  on 120V AC power (i.e., primarily U.S. customers).  It doesn't affect those operating on 220V AC or higher.  All of the dc4000 and dc5000s shipped with the rev3 power supply.  In the event that you lose the power supply and need to find another that will work, it has the following specs:

Input:  115 or 230 VAC (autosensing).  Output: 12 V DC, 2.5 A (30W) with a barrel connector having an outside diameter of 5 mm and an inside diameter of 1.65 mm and a length of approximately 12 mm.


Product reviews for the HP DVD Movie Writer


QuickTime Issues

Apple changed the location of the QuickTime files around January 2006 which caused a problem with Showbiz.  If you get a message that you cannot export .MOV (i.e. QuickTime) formats, please follow these instructions:

 1. Go to Windows system32 folder c:\windows\system32;
 2. Check if there is a sub-folder "QuickTime"
 3. If there is no such folder, please create it.
 4. In the QuickTime sub-folder, create two new empty files and  rename them as QuickTimeAuthoring.qtx and QuickTimeImage.qtx

If you like, you can copy those files over from C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QTSystem



 

Reformatting DVD+RW media

You should always be able to recover a +RW disc if you run into problems with an application. If the RecordNow application is having problems "erasing" the disc, you can also try to "ReFormat" the media. Under normal circumstances you would never need to do this, but if the media won't erase because of an aborted operation while writing the disk, or perhaps a conflict with DVD burn engines occurred and put the media in a state where it may need to be reformatted.  There is a utility that was installed when you installed the HP DVD Movie Writer software that will allow you to do this. Follow these steps to reformat the DVD+RW disc:

1. Insert the DVD+RW in the HP DVD Movie Writer's drive
2. Run the following program - c:\Program Files\HP DVD\Umbrella\DVDFormat.exe.
3. Select New Format, and then click on Start Format.
4. Click OK on the "Disc Format/ReFormat Started" dialog.
5. When the "Stop Format" button becomes active, select the "Normal Stop", and the click the "Stop Format" button. (This may take a couple minutes).
6. When this is done, a dialog should be displayed stating "Disc Format is Stopped". Click OK, and you should be good to go.


Read Me First

Did you skip over the 'Read Me First' file during installation because you were so excited to get started?  Don't feel bad, a lot of people do that but this readme.txt file is full of good information so now that you have the time, please look it over.


SmartRendering

SmartRendering is a feature that allows you to avoid re-transcoding video you capture from the HP DVD Movie Writer during the DVD authoring stage.  If you have a dc3000 and you wish to  use SmartRendering, you must download a patch which upgrades Showbiz from version 2.0.0.124 to version 2.0.0.130.  SmartRendering didn't work properly on the version of Showbiz that shipped with the dc3000 and would generate an error at the stage when it tried to write to the DVD.  If you capture your video at 7Mbps constant bit rate (or less) or at 8Mbps peak variable bit rate or less, then when you author the DVD (or export to a DVD mpeg file), only the transitions and edited frames will be re-encoded.  This will save time and improve the image quality of your video because it will not be necessary to re-encode the MPEG frames again.  If you add another soundtrack to the video or change video settings such as resolution, contrast, brightness, etc.,  all the frames affected may need to be re-encoded.

You can tell when SmartRendering is working, because it will only show the frames that are being re-encoded playing back in the preview window when you begin authoring the DVD.  If you combine video from a number of sources that have different  video properties, such as resolution, frame rate, encoding technique, etc., then it's likely that SmartRendering will just re-encode the entire video.


Stand-Alone Mode

There have been some questions about why the HP DVD Movie Writer needs a PC to copy video to DVDs.    There are products on the market already that are consumer electronics DVD recorders that are intended to sit in an entertainment center, just like a VCR and connect to your TV.  They can tune television programs and copy video directly to DVD disks.  They average around $150-$300 and have a user interface similar to a VCR.   If all you want to do is make copies of tapes on to DVD disks with no editing, titling, or menus, you might consider one of those as a better fit for that application.

The HP DVD Movie Writers provide an external DVD writer drive for your PC and also includes digital video capture and editing software.  So if you're already looking to add a DVD writer to your PC, you might consider the the Movie Writer a DVD writer with those additional functions.  It can also burn CDs and back up your files by writing data to high capacity (4.7 GB) DVD disks. 


Third Party Support

There are a number of software products on the market that can capture and edit video as well as author DVDs.  These products are available from companies like Ahead Software, Arcsoft, Adobe, Intervideo, Microsoft, Pinnacle, Sony, Ulead, and many others.   The HP DVD Movie Writer is shipped with Arcsoft's Showbiz which is a software package that combines all three functions in a single user interface.  It is easy to learn and use and has many advanced features.  The HP DVD Movie Writer has a capture device in it that is recognized by several other programs, but they are not able to use it because they don't have specific drivers to operate it.  Currently, only Showbiz has the drivers available for the HP DVD Movie Writer's capture device.  All of the software companies mentioned above have been offered a Software Developer's Kit for the HP DVD Movie Writer so that they could integrate a capture function into their software, and a several claim to be working on integrating it, but so far, no one has introduced a version of their product that supports the capture portion of the DVD Movie Writer.   Capture devices are still  unique enough that they cannot be used with generic drivers like CD or DVD writers or mass storage devices.

If you have a favorite video editor and DVD authoring tool, the odds are pretty good that you can capture your video with Showbiz and use those other tools to edit and write the video  to the DVD drive that is part of the HP DVD Movie Writer.  It's not as convenient as being able to use one software package for all the functions, but may be easier than having to learn another user interface.  You can just capture the .mpg file to the My Videos folder with Showbiz and then work on it with your favorite editing/DVD authoring program.


Uninstalling/Reinstalling the HP DVD Movie Writer software

You may have been advised by HP technical support when dealing with an unusual problem to try uninstalling and reinstalling HP's software. The reason for this is that sometimes if you install other software, even demo software, it can overwrite a shared file with an incompatible one.  Many video programs are using Microsoft's DirectShow architecture and while this has it benefits, there is also the potential for one application to change another's DirectShow filters. The problems that this may cause are so varied that there's no way to anticipate all of them, but if all else fails, this might be the best way to solve a variety of audio and video-related problems.   It's also possible that the software did not install correctly the first time.  First you need to select the "Add or Remove Programs" application in the Control Panel.

Select the HP DVD Movie Writer Capture Device and remove that.  That takes out the drivers for the video capture device.  These get will get reinstalled automatically when any other applications are installed from the HP DVD Movie Writer installation disk.   Next select the HP DVD Movie Writer and remove it. This will launch a secondary menu which will allow you to uninstall all the major applications, i.e., Showbiz, PowerDVD, RecordNow, Muvee, and Simple Backup.  After you've finished the uninstall, make sure to let the PC restart so that any pending operations will completed.   Then reinstall everything from the HP DVD Movie Writer integrated installation disk.


USB 1.1 Support

Although you can connect the HP DVD Movie Writer to a computer that operates only at USB 1.1 speeds (1.5 and 12 Mbps) and make it work, you will not get the full potential out of your DVD drive if you operate at those rates.  The video transfer rates can approach the maximum limits of USB 1.1 (12 Mbps) and there is always some overhead associated  USB so you shouldn't count on getting the full 12 Mbps bandwidth of the bus.  This might not be a problem with USB accessories which can wait for data, but with video capture, there is no way to buffer the stream that is being captured for very long.  So if a stall occurs, so you could end up with dropped video frames or audio sync problems.  The DVD writing speed will also suffer at USB 1.1 speeds.  It will take 2 to 4 times as long to write the DVD over a USB 1.1 bus than it does over high speed USB 2.0.

High speed USB 2.0 interfaces have really come down in price so it makes sense to upgrade if your computer doesn't have them already.   If you do have USB 2.0 hardware but are still seeing it take a long time to write the DVDs, it could be because your OS doesn't have the correct drivers.  Win2K and WinXP require the latest service packs to support high speed USB 2.0 so make sure you're running the latest service packs and the latest drivers for the USB interface.  To check which service pack you have, right click on the My Computer icon and select Properties and launch the Device Manager.  The OS and Service Pack  will appear under the 'General' tab. Make sure that Service Pack 1 is installed if you're running XP and Service Pack 4 if you're running Win2K.   If not, go to Windows Update in the Windows Help menu and download it for free from Microsoft.   Win2K and WinXP  will happily run high speed capable USB 2.0 interfaces at low speed and will not even report it as a problem in the device manager if they don't have these service packs.  WinXP will warn you if you plug the HP DVD Movie Writer into a bus that is running at low speed provided you have Service Pack 1 installed, but Win2K will not give you any warning regardless of the service pack level. 

To test if your interface is running at high speed, measure the time it takes to backup some files to a DVD disk with RecordNow.  With DVD+R media rated at 4x speed, you should get about 5MB/sec.  With DVD+RW media rated at 2.4x, the speed should be around 3MB/sec.  In other words, it should take less than 30 minutes to write a full DVD with 2.4x  media or less than 20 minutes with 4x media .  If it takes much longer, then it's possible your interface isn't operating at high speed.  Please make sure to disable the 'verify data after write' option in RecordNow while running this test.  There is also a downloadable utility available called CDSpeed that can measure transfer rates that you can find in the


USB 2.0 (high speed) card compatibility

There are a number of aftermarket cards available with USB 2.0 high speed capability (i.e., 480 Mbps).  If you're still using USB 1.1, you won't get the best performance out of your HP DVD Movie Writer either for video capture or from  the DVD writer. 

USB 2.0 cards based on the NEC chipset are recommended, and make sure your drivers are up-to-date.  You can find some of these NEC cards here.  That site is affiliated with usbman.com which is a great source of information for troubleshooting USB problems.

We have had  reports of cards based on the ALi M5273 or M5271 chips freezing up during video capture process  and causing DVD write errors despite having the latest drivers downloaded and installed from the ALi website.  This issue has been investigated at ALi but could not be fixed.  If  you are using a card with an ALi chipset, please replace it with one that is using an NEC chipset.  And make sure not to install any drivers that come with it, but rather use the NEC driver that is part of XP.  If your PC has integrated USB 2.0 on the motherboard from Intel, that's fine too.  But if you have Via, Sis, or ALi USB 2.0 on the motherboard, you may want to consider an NEC-based add-in card if you're experiencing problems. 

There is a little confusion surrounding the USB 2.0 specification because it can operate at  three speeds, 1.5 Mbps, 12 Mbps, and 480 Mbps.  If you bought your computer some time after January, 2003, it may already have USB 2.0 high speed capable ports in it.   The two slower rates are 'compatible' with USB 2.0, and so some manufacturers are claiming USB 2.0 compatibility, but their products don't actually run at high speed.  Look for the logos below to see if your device is capable of running at high speed.

USB 1.1 or 2.0  (1.5 and 12 Mbps)  USB 2.0 (1.5, 12, and 480 Mbps)
 

You should also make sure you're running the latest service packs from Microsoft to enable the high speed mode.  A USB 2.0 interface won't run at high speed unless you download and install those service packs and update your USB controller drivers.  For Win2K that means SP4 and for XP, it's SP1 or SP2.  To check which service pack you have, right click on the My Computer icon and select Properties.  The OS and Service Pack  will appear under the 'General' tab.

There is also a USB2.0 driver Hotfix for XP SP1 described by Microsoft KnowledgeBase Article 822603 which you should make sure is installed on your PC, especially if you are noticing any USB problems.  This will update the Enhanced Host Controller Interface driver to version 5.1.2600.1243.  That can be found in the driver details of the USB card in the Device Manager.  Here is a page that explains with a little more detail on how to check your USB driver revision levels.  If you find you're running drivers from OWC, update them to Microsoft drivers.

If you'd like some more insight into what is going on with your USB interfaces, here is a short tutorial that includes a link to download the USBView utility that can help you to troubleshoot problems.


User Documentation/Manual

There is an on-line tutorial and User Guide included with the HP DVD Movie Writer.  Some people seem to be unaware of them. To reach them, go to:

Start, Programs, Hewlett-Packard, HP DVD, HP DVD

(or click on the HP DVD icon on your desktop)

This launches the umbrella application and you'll see tabs at the top entitled 'Learn' and 'Support'. Go to the 'Learn' tab and select the User Guide. This guide has lots of useful information in the 'How do I' section as well as the 'Frequently Asked Questions' section. It has step-by-step instructions on a number of topics and is well written.

The 'Video How To' is a flash animation that walks you through the steps of creating a DVD. You can watch the whole thing in about 5 minutes and it may help answer a few questions about the process of making DVDs.


User Help Group

There is a 900+ member user group at Yahoo Groups set up specifically to discuss the HP DVD Movie Writer  and share information with other users.   You'll be able to get help from the HP people there who worked on the product.


Unexpected folder on desktop after installation

If you find that after installing the dc3000 that there is a folder launching on the desktop during startup, such as 'hpcoretech', you can fix it by following the procedures shown here.


Valid video light keeps blinking and capture stops

Shown circled below is the valid video light.  This light must stay on during capture or you will eventually get a message stating that the signal has been lost and the capture will automatically stop.  If you find that it is blinking during capture, the first thing you should try is to upgrade to the latest capture driver, if you haven't already done that.  If that doesn't fix it, it could be related to tracking problems on the VCR and you might find that using a different VCR may help.  

If you have a dc4000 and see that the valid video light is intermittent or are getting a persistent Error Code 10, it might be due to a short of the video connector.  We have been made aware of some dc4000s that have been assembled with RCA jacks that have leads that are much longer than they should be and that could touch and short out to the bottom of the drive and cause the video to disappear.  An easy way to test this is to press down on the top of the dc4000 while capturing video and see if it makes the problem come and go.  You may only notice the problem after you've been capturing for a while as the case parts warm up and move around.  If you have this problem, you can correct it fairly easily by taking apart the dc4000 and clipping off the center lead(s) on the audio and video RCA jacks so that they are no more than 3 mm (.125 inches) in height.   Photos of the issue can be seen here.  You can also bend them downward to make sure they cannot contact the drive or any other conductor.  Procedures for disassembling the dc4000 are similar to the dc3000 shown here.  The main difference is that the side cap may have a short flat flex cable connecting it to the main board instead of the multicolored stranded cable.  It will also have a secondary rear shield.  Be careful not to pull on the flat cable or it will come out and you'll have to reinsert it.  Just rotate the side cap downward after removing its screws and make sure to support the side cap as you move the base around.

If you find that you cannot keep the valid video light steady due to problems with the tape or VCR, there is a workaround you can try.  In the file  "C:\Program Files\Arcsoft\Showbiz DVD 2\quickdvd.set", there is a line in the file that shows SignalOn=1.  You can edit this file with Notepad and if you change it to SignalOn=0, you can capture even when there is no video valid video signal on the front of the HP DVD Movie Writer.   

You may wish to edit the SignalOn value back to 0 after you've finished capturing the problem tape so that the Transfer Wizard will be able to automatically stop when it encounters the end of a tape.


Video Freezing

There have been a few reports of video freezing during capture.  These issues all seem to be related to USB 2.0 driver/signal integrity/chipset problems.  There have been several reports of video freezing with ALi-based USB 2.0 cards.   It has also occurred on NEC cards if their drivers are not up to the latest revision level.  If you find that the video capture is freezing during capture, make sure your drivers are at the latest revision and if so, try using a different USB port, or even switching to USB 1.1 to help isolate the issue, provided that your computer has a USB 1.1 port.   Another option is to install a USB 2.0 card from a different manufacturer.


Video Quality Issues

The video quality of the resulting DVD produced by the HP DVD Movie Writer can only be as good as source material from which it is created.   Normally, DVD image quality is much better than that of video tape, but this isn't possible to achieve when you're creating a DVD from a video tape.  It is possible to produce a video with much worse quality than the original if you select a bit rate that is too low.  For the best capture quality, select the highest bit rate that will allow you to fit the whole video on a DVD disk.  One hour of video can be captured and authored at 7 Mbps and still fit on a 4.7GB disk and the video will look as good as the original.  If you want to fit more than an hour, the bit rate must be reduced accordingly.

If you're using the Video Transfer Wizard, the following constant bit rates are automatically selected depending on the length of the video capture for single layer disks:

1 hour or less    7 Mbps
1 to 1.5 hours    4.8 Mbps
1.5 to 2 hours    3.2 Mbps

With the latest dc4000 software, the maximum length of the video has increased to 2.5 hours by automatically adjusting the video resolution.  With the dc5000, the maximum length has increased to 7 hours if you use dual layer media.

If you're curious about how the movie studios can fit a high quality 2-hour movie on a commercial DVD in addition to special features, it's because they use two layer recording.  The laser can 'see through' the partially reflective first layer and focus on the second below it.  Therefore the capacity of commercial DVDs can be up to 9 GB.  Dual layer recording is available on the dc5000 only.

There is an error in the dc3000's on-line documentation that erroneously reports that the good, better, and best capture rates allow 1, 2, and 3 hours of recording on a single 4.7 GB DVD.  This is not correct.  It should read 2, 1.5, and 1 hour for good, better, and best video quality respectively that can fit on a single 4.7 GB DVD disk.

For a more in-depth explanation on Video/Audio settings, please visit this section.


Video Transfer Wizard

The HP Video Transfer Wizard is a program that allows you to easily make copies of a video to DVD without having to learn how to run the Arcsoft ShowBiz video editing program.  It gives you a taste of success in creating a DVDs early on which otherwise can have a rather steep learning curve.  You just choose a background, type in a title and the length of a video and walk away.  When you return, the DVD disk will be waiting for you along with chapter points and a title giving it a very finished look during playback.  The Video Transfer Wizard can be launched by pushing the button with the red dot on the HP DVD Movie Writer.


Vista Issues and 64-bit compatibility

There is a problem with the installation on Vista where you get a message that it has the wrong WinNT version number and it appears to fail, but then Vista then automatically re-launches the installation in a 'compatibility mode' where it asks you if you want to use the recommended settings and if you select that option, it will complete the installation and your DVD Movie Writer will work with Vista.

The DVD Movie Writer will NOT work with any of the 64-bit versions of Windows because that requires special drivers which are not available for the capture device. If you have a 64-bit system operating system, then I recommend you read this article I wrote for HP DVD Movie Writer owners who need newer hardware for video capture.


Why does the dc3000 use only the DVD+R/RW format?

The dc3000 will not write to DVD-R/RW media.  So if you bought DVD-R/RW media by mistake, you should take it back and exchange it for DVD+R/RW media.

The dc4000 and dc5000 can write to DVD+R/RW as well as DVD-R/RW.  None of the DVD Movie Writers support DVD-RAM.


Windows 7 and 8 support

The DVD Movie Writer went out of production long before Windows 7 was released and the main installation file (setup.exe) on the Installation CD doesn't work correctly on Windows 7 or 8, giving an error about in incorrect WinNT version. If you say, OK sometimes it will recover and install the software. However, if you just want to run Showbiz, which is the main application for video capture/editing, you can install that program by opening up the Installation CD and then open the Arcsoft_Showbiz folder and double click on its setup.exe file. That will install Showbiz DVD. Then you need to go into the device manager and install the driver for the video capture part of the DVD Movie Writer. You should see the device listed as 'unknown' and when you click on it, select 'Update Driver'. When it gets to the point where it asks you if you want to automatically find the driver or manually browse your computer for the driver, select 'Browse computer'. Then browse to the "Drivers" folder of the Installation CD (or the folder where it is unzipped) and select OK and it should load the DVD Movie Writer driver which will cause the video capture device to then appear as an HP DVD Movie Writer. Once that's done, you will be able to use Showbiz with your DVD Movie Writer. However, if you find that that doesn't work, then I recommend you read an article I wrote for HP DVD Movie Writer owners who have Windows 7 an 8 systems who want to capture videos. It covers an economical USB capture device that costs around $30 and includes the latest version of Arcsoft's Showbiz.