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Go Back   Thoughts Media Forums > DIGITAL HOME THOUGHTS > Digital Home Hardware & Accessories

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Old 02-17-2010, 04:00 PM
Jason Dunn
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Default Digitize Those Old Tapes With Roxio Easy VHS to DVD

<p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1265558890.usr1.jpg" style="border: 0;" /></p><p>Roxio's <a href="http://www.roxio.com/enu/products/easy-vhs-to-dvd/standard/overview.html?rTrack=b_easyvhs" target="_blank">Easy VHS to DVD</a> product is an affordable (<a href="http://astore.amazon.com/digitalhomethoughts-20/detail/B0031AY7RI" target="_blank">$59.99 USD, Affiliate</a>) video capture solution. I digitized my main family home video tape years ago, but I have a few VHS tapes still kicking around and I wanted to see what the current solutions are able to deliver. I contacted Roxio to ask to check out their Easy VHS to DVD product, and they sent one my way. Here's my experience using it. <MORE /></p><p>Easy VHS to DVD is a Windows-only product that's compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. There's also a <a href="http://www.roxio.com/enu/products/easy-vhs-to-dvd/mac/requirements.html" target="_blank">Mac version</a>. In the box, you get the USB video capture device, a miniUSB cable that connects to the USB device and offers various inputs (S-Video, composite video, left/right RCA jacks for audio), a CD with software, and a USB extension cable. Following the instructions in the box, I connected the USB video device, and watched as Windows 7 confusingly told me that USB 2861 device had no driver found, but it was ready to use. Next I installed the included software (or tried to), which ridiculously offers to install the Google Toolbar as part of the install. Come on Roxio, this is a commercial product - don't cheapen your brand by promoting Google.</p><p>I say that I tried to install the software because it hung at the DirectX 9 runtime stage of the install. I'm using a fully updated Windows 7 Ultimate system with no other software installed. During the install I saw a pop-up window that said my system didn't require this update - presumably speaking of DirectX 9 - but I assumed the Roxio software would be smart enough to bypass that part of the install. Not so. I let the install run for five minutes, then canceled it, and waited another ten minutes staring at a "Preparing to roll back" message until I decided to cancel that as well, except that it wouldn't cancel. Over and over I told it to cancel, and I ended up having to open up Task Manager and kill the process. Rebooting the system, I tried the install again and strangely it worked this time with no errors. Not a good first impression.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1265584583.usr1.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #d2d2bb;" /></p><p><em>Figure 1: The Roxio Easy VHS to DVD software.</em></p><p>Finally able to start using the product, I loaded up the Roxio Easy VHS to DVD software. It's an attractively designed user interface with large, easy to understand icons. It wasn't impressive to see a broken red "X" though; not exactly confidence-inspiring, especially after I updated the software to the latest version. The options include Capture Video (which captures the incoming video to a file on your computer), Plug and Burn (which burns directly to DVD as it captures), Digitize LPs and Tapes, Burn Audio CDs, Burn MP3 CDs, and Capture Audio from Sound Card.</p><p>To test it, I put an old VHS tape my in VHS/DVD combo deck that I've kept solely for this scenario. The capture settings are, unfortunately, really no different than what you'd have seen on a device of this type five years ago. The options include DV-AVI (720 x 480), MPEG2 (720 x 480, 8 mbps), MPEG2 (352 x 480, 4 mbps), MPEG1 (352 x 240, 1.7 mbps). There's a VCD setting on the drop-down menu, but it can't be selected for some odd reason. The first tape I captured was 1 hour 53 minutes long, and it was a colossal 23.9 GB in size in DV-AVI format. I knew I was going to be converting it to h.264, so I figured I'd start with maximum quality before compressing it. Ultimately, that's where this product fails to impress: because it's limited to capturing in DV-AVI and MPEG-2, both formats that offer little in the way of modern high-quality video compression, you're going to have to re-encode the video in another program to get it to h.264 or another modern video storage format.</p><p>When I watched the resulting DV-AVI file I'd captured, I noticed something strange: there was a low-level buzzing in the audio that wasn't present in the live audio playback I heard when I was capturing the video. Perhaps it was introduced during the capture process, or perhaps during the encoding to DV-AVI process. Regardless, there are no tools present either in the hardware or software to clean up problematic audio, so I'll need to load this video file into a competent video editor (<a href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/96756/corel-videostudio-pro-x3-perhaps-the-video-editor-you-ve-been-waiting-for.html" target="_blank">perhaps Corel VideoStudio Pro X3</a>?) to try and clean it up. It would have been great to see some basic tools in this kit to help with that problem.</p><p>For the price, it's hard to argue with the simplicity of this product and the results it delivers - if you have old VHS tapes, don't let them decay any further. Capture them to a digital format, even if you don't want to edit them right away - but have a big hard drive ready to capture them in DV-AVI format, and be prepared to use a video editor clean them up.</p><p><em>Jason Dunn owns and operates <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Inc.</a>, a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys <a href="http://photos.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">photography</a>, mobile devices, <a href="http://www.jasondunn.com/" target="_blank">blogging</a>, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, his son Logan, and his sometimes obedient dog. It makes him sad when software developers don't pay attention to detail.</em></p><p><em></em><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><strong>Do you enjoy using new hardware, <a class="iAs" href="http://www.digitalhomethoughts.com/news/show/93798/dell-s-inspiron-mini-10-reviewed.html" target="_blank">software</a> and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Thoughts Media Review Team</a>! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? <a href="http://www.thoughtsmedia.com/reviewteam.php" target="_blank">Then click here for more information.</a></strong></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com//ppct/auto/1240336793.usr1.gif" /></p><p><a href="http://cmp.ly/Publish/user/CmpLy.php?cid=2" target="_blank">DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p>
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:22 PM
asims
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This sounds like a very promising piece of hardware/software. However, while searching for price deals, I came across reviews on Amazon that paint a pretty dark picture of it, at least the installation of it. Out of 103 customer reviews, this program only has two stars. I personally don't want to take the chance of going through the experience some of them went through.
It's too bad that Roxio doesn't have better support for this product. It sounds like something that I could really use. I have several video tapes and cassette tapes that I would love to convert to DVD and CD. I also have a few LPs that I would like to convert.
 
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Old 02-18-2010, 08:33 AM
Jason Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asims View Post
However, while searching for price deals, I came across reviews on Amazon that paint a pretty dark picture of it, at least the installation of it.
It was a bit of a hassle to get it installed as I noted in the review, but not too ugly - and once it was installed, it worked nicely. I don't know why Roxio has trouble getting the install working smoothly, but for the price, it's hard to beat. I ended up using Corel VideoStudio X3 to clean up the audio - it has some nice audio clean up features.
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Old 02-20-2010, 01:16 AM
Reid Kistler
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We have a number of VHS tapes that it would be nice to convert - including several containing "plays" put on by the kids that I am certain they would LOVE to have preserved!

But, alas!, have also been scared away from Roxio products by numerous user complaints.

Certainly one sometimes needs to take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt - but when there is a fairly large number of complaints, and for a variety of products, Caution in purchasing seems warranted....
 
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:20 PM
Jason Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reid Kistler View Post
Certainly one sometimes needs to take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt - but when there is a fairly large number of complaints, and for a variety of products, Caution in purchasing seems warranted....
Oh the other hand, it's $60, not $600, so if you believe my review to be true, you shouldn't be so afraid to buy it.
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