Welcome to the forum.
Does your laptop have an ExpressCard, or PCMCIA slot? If so, you can pick up an IEEE-1394a card for it.
No it does not
I took a quick look at the specs and don't see any option for this. Ironic given that Dell offers this laptop bundled with Premiere Elements, but then again not everyone uses DV for their video.
Sorry I don't have any suggestions.
BTW I have two HV40's and am considering a third! Canon still sells them new so hardly "obsolete".
I am very new to this. Will a USB To Firewire iEEE 1394 4 Pin iLink Adapter Cable work?
Unfortunately, no. Capture from miniDV tape is ONLY via FW-400 (IEEE-1394a).
Dell is obviously bankning that everyone will be using some form of memory card for Video, such as AVCHD. They have turned their backs on HDV miniDV tape cameras, like the excellent Canon Vixia HV 40. I suppose that their "focus groups" indicated that AVCHD, etc. was the way of the future.
Personally, I would never get a computer, that did not offer IEEE-1394a, and/or have an ExpressCard slot. Matter of fact, I held off updating my Sager laptop, until Clevo adds those back onto the MoBo. Right now, it appears to be April, 2012, but I can wait.
One option, though not ideal, would be to pickup/build a computer WITH an IEEE-1394a connection, and as PrE allows one to have two installations, just not running at the same time, you could do the Capture to that, and then transfer the Captured files over, say with a Gigabit NIC and cable, in each computer. For just the Capture, that computer could be minimal.
Sorry that Dell has moved on to an "less desirable" format, IMHO. However, with all of its problems, and need for CPU power, AVCHD (or some flavor of H.264) seems to be the "winner." Can anyone say "VHS vs Beta?"
I agree with Bill, the HDV format is by no means obsolete. Consumer demand is much higher for hard drive hi-def camcorders -- but most video editors I know still prefer tape-based, for a number of great reasons.