Firewire - what do I need

  panhandle 16:50 18 Jul 05

A guy is trying to sell me a 2nd hand digital video camera. That is fine in itself. The connection to PC is firewire, but he cannot show me one, and I have not seen the camera yet.
What is a firewire - in physical terms? Is it USB - I have loads of those. It is not a LAN cable which I connect with mu daughters laptop sometimes.
I'm on XP Pro and USB 1 - a secondary quewstion, is USB 2 backwards compatible, are the connections different, and is it easy to upgrade?
Can someone advise me - thanks for your time.

  jack 17:05 18 Jul 05

Put simply 'FireWire' is a USB variation, byt the plug profile is different and it is a lot quicker.

Whet you need is a 'FireWire' PCI card[assuming you have a spare slot] They cost about £20 or less- dont pay more like at PCW.

  Danoh 17:26 18 Jul 05

Firewire, USB and LAN uses different protocols and different socket shapes to ensure they do not get mixed up.

Firewire (or sometimes referred to as IEEE 1394) has a 400 Mbps data throughput capacity whereas USB 1.0 = 1.5Mbps, USB 1.1 = 12Mbps and USB 2.0 = 480 Mbps.

To transfer video from a camera, you will need to have the 400 Mbps Firewire available on your PC as video cameras would not have a USB 2.0 connection.

USB 2.0 is backward compatible with 1.1 and 1.0 and the sockets used are identical.

You can get a combination Firewire and USB 2.0 card to add to your PC to give you both. And it is very simple and relatively to install.

  Danoh 17:33 18 Jul 05

That should has said, "relatively cheap", e.g. click here

Typically, the steps are 1) disconnnect and open up your PC box. 2) push in the new card firmly 3) allow XP to use its own drivers for the new card or swap to use any drivers provided 4) reboot PC and check Hardware Manager that all is ok 5) start using Firewire and USB 2.0

  Danoh 18:52 18 Jul 05

Didn't realise how hard it is to find a web page with a clear picture of what Firewire, mini-Firewire and USB ports look like, so I could provide a link to the picture here!

But in my search, I found a step-by-step "How-to" article. It does go further in adding a covenient front-mounted hub in a PC so you don't need to fish around the back of a PC everytime you wish to connect up a Firewire or USB 2.0 device.
click here

Hope that's been helpful.

  Danoh 19:00 18 Jul 05

Ah, here's a diagram; click here

To the left are 3 "spade" USB ports and the middle is a "male" USB port, with the 3 on the right being Firewire.

Its for the Apple mini-Mac but its identical for PCs.

  panhandle 19:25 18 Jul 05

Jack & especially Danoh - you've been very busy whilst I was making a Risotto. Many tahnks, very clear and useful help.

  alB 17:55 19 Jul 05

PC World do a digital video editing kit at £9.99 that has a firewire card, a 6-4 pin firewire cable and MGI videowave 5 editing software...alB

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