I tried every way to Sunday to get USB to work under Win7 (XP under Virtual Box, MS Virtual XP) for me miniDV cam. Nothing worked. Finally gave up and bought this guy at Amazon:
It's $42 and there are cheaper ones out there, but the buyer reviews for this one specifically mentioned Win 7 and I wanted the problem solved. Works great. Love to be able to actually control the playback of the cam from the PrE capture app.
The usb connection on a mini dv camera is for ingesting photo's.
The only way to get your footage from tape to pc is through firewire.
There are PCMCIA cards that allow firewire, that is if you have a connetion for that on the laptop.
Where the confusion may lie is that Sony provided "streaming USB" support under XP. I used the feature extensively with my aging Sony miniDV camera using Premiere Pro. The Win 7 USB drivers for my camera no longer support USB streaming and of course PrE only talks about IEEE1394 to capture.