“My camcorder needs to connect to a FireWire port on my computer in order to capture video, but my computer doesn’t have one. It’s a laptop, so I can’t install one of those PCI cards. What are my options?”
Whether your computer is a laptop or not, there are ways you can get the functionality of a FireWire port without needing to install anything in your computer. One easy way is to get a USB hardware solution that passes FireWire connections. Laptop owners have more options because there are numerous PCMCIA and PC Express cards available with FireWire ports built in.
FireWire over USB
The solution I typically recommend isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s the one I find to be most reliable, which is the Pinnacle Studio MovieBox Ultimate. It’s a great bundle of stuff, including a green screen, the Pinnacle Studio software, and a hardware unit that allows you to connect your camcorder via FireWire and then passes the camcorder connection to your computer through a USB connection. It sounds strange, but it works effectively and solves the no FireWire port problem really well. I have one of these that I purchased to use with my laptop because my laptop had driver conflicts with the other solution I recommend specifically for laptop owners, which is a PCMCIA card with FireWire ports built in.
FireWire over PCMCIA
Many companies sell a FireWire card that goes in that generally useless PCMCIA slot on your computer. If you can find the one from HP pictured here, it tends to be one of the best priced options available. They all work the same way, although sometimes you can find one with both 4-pin and 6-pin connectors. The HP unit can be difficult to track down, but there are plenty of PCMCIA FireWire cards on eBay.