Thanks John, that was the cheapest model at NewEgg ($170).
I guess I wasn't missing anything... all DV bridges are this expensive then, eh?
As you have found... a cheap one is not likely going to produce files that are suitable for editing
You get what you pay for.
I have been using a Canopus ADVC100 for almost 10 years, and have had 100% success right out of the box the first time I used it. As noted above the model 55 (which wasn't available when I bought my unit) should be all you need.
Before I got the Canopus unit I tried several 'cheaper' (USB) devices but never got satisfactory repeatable reuslts. Be sure you have at least a Firewire 400 connection. If you need to add such a port make sure the device uses a TI chip to avoid conversion problems. I purchased a " Syba Low Profile PCI-Express 1394b/1394a (2B1A) Card, TI Chipset, Extra Regular Bracket SD-PEX30009 " (which has both FW 400 & 800 ports) apprx $26 from Amazon.
By the way I use the Canopus to convert/capture both VHS and Hi8 analog tapes.