My System: A Sony Vaio laptop, model VGN-FS742
My R2R: An old Akai, which works fine. The only outputs are standard RCA jacks, same as found on all A/V gear.
After scrutinizing all ports on my Sony earlier today, I didn't believe it had a FireWire port, especially after reading thru all printed material that came with it, plus the entire PDF manual and no mention. In the latter, an entire page discusses a mysterious "i.LINK port," yet never ONCE mentions this is 'Sony proprietary-speak' for FireWire. That was clarified only after 45 minutes of online chat with Sony! It turns out mine has a 4-pin plug for FireWire, and while 6 & 8 pin plugs now exist, he couldn't explain the difference. If what I later found is correct, the 6-pin added *power for external devices and *a ground wire...and suspect the 8-pin is for the newest 800MB/sec. According to him, they don't make a cable with RCA jacks on one end and FW on the other, nor would that alone work. Other than informing me that i.LINK is synonymous with FireWire, he was of no significant help.
Prior to contacting Sony, I'd Googled extensively and read through a ton of related material. Initially thinking I'd be going USB, I kept reading that actual throughput is NOT as fast as FireWire. I plan to add a webcam soon and read that FW's the best way to go there too. So having decided against USB, it makes sense that I'd find no clear 'n simple solutions which utilize FireWire. Instead, I readily found inexpensive USB devices that would work, and make going that route a breeze. Examples: http://www.zzounds.com/item--BEHUCA202 and http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/imic
Apparently, one must use a FireWire PCMCIA Cardbus like http://www.cwol.com/firewire/firewire-3-po...%20requirements or some sort of Firewire Hub. Other sites mention the need for "a good Analog to Digital Converter." Gee, is this in addition to one of these other devices? Not even in non-retail, tech site forums did anyone lay out in plain English, exactly what options exist or their individual advantages/disadvantages. Now, I know for a fact that the identical solution would work for a cassette deck too, meaning this has to be a fairly common need for a vast number of people.
So, what's the best solution? Is there any advantage in going through a PC Cardbus vs the Sony i.LINK port, be it in speed, compatibility, etc? One downside to the PC Cardbus I foresee, is the port being located at the very right-front of the laptop, directly adjacent to ones mouse. Not only does the card protrude, but so will any wires connected to it. (Great design, Sony!)
And what about using one of these FireWire Hubs vs the options above? I read that Hubs, which "distribute power equally to each of its ports," can cause problems with other USB devices that don't "appreciate" this. I have a 500MB external HD, and it sounds as if I'd be better off leaving it plugged directly into the laptop. Also, they say with some USB devices the software is installed specific to that USB port, meaning another potential problem if you move it to a Hub. Last but not least, I think they require a separate power supply. Since my laptop sits on my dining room table, I really don't want some clunky hub sitting there with a pile of wires running all over. While the R2R transfer project will be a relatively short lived project, I'll be leaving the webcam connected, and want a clean, uncluttered solution - something I don't feel is unreasonable to expect.
Pardon my frustration, but I'm on chemotherapy and this has exhausted my patience. Silly me for thinking I'd find a clear, simple solution like:
"Here's the best way to go for high quality results, and keeping the solution affordable. You'll need the following cable (insert name/model here). On one end it has RCA jacks which connect to your Akai R2R. On the other end are jacks which connect to a (insert device type: PC Cardbus, Hub, or Analog to Digital converter). You will also need the following cable (insert name/model here) to connect the new device to your laptop's (i.LINK port, or whatever)."
Any suggestions or links would be greatly appreciated.
Edited by NorCal_Mike, 23 January 2009 - 03:32 AM.