Digitise your analogue
Anyone under 25 will struggle to remember media being sold on anything other than digital media. CD’s and DVD’s have always been sold in shops, as far as they’re concerned.
The rest of us can remember a time when video and audio were sold to us in ANALOGUE formats (*gasps*). We had VHS and Betamax tapes, vinyl LPs and TDK D90′s. As anyone that uses these archaic forms of media knows, they tend to wear out from general use, and they’re also far more susceptible to physical damage than any form of modern media.
In truth, if you want to keep a grip on the contents of your old analogue devices, you’ve got to find a way to digitise them, and that’s what Honestech aim to do with VHS to DVD 7.0 Deluxe.
Inside the box
The VHS to DVD 7.0 Deluxe kit takes the form of an interface box to connect your old playback devices to your computer, and some software to help you record and manipulate the media itself. Inside the box you’ll find:
- An Honestech “Vidbox”
- An RCA video/audio cable
- A USB power cable
- Software CD
- Quick Start guide
The box itself is quite small, fitting easily in the palm of your hand. To the rear of it you’ll find RCA composite connections, an S-Video connection and the USB connector for connecting to your Windows PC.
The build quality of the box feels pretty good, there’s not much to say about it other than it should stand up to being thrown in a rucksack and carried around pretty well. The connectors themselves feel pretty solid, and should put up with having your old analogue devices jacked in to them repeatedly.
To use the kit, it’s a case of connecting your old analogue devices to the box, then installing the bundled software on your PC. Connect the Vid Box up to your PC via USB and you should see the output from your old analogue device within the software.
If you launch the software in wizard mode, you’ll be asked if you want to record to a DVD or BluRay disk, and then asked what type of input source you’re working with. You’ll then be instructed how to connect up the source, and the system will check to make sure it can sense it. After this you’ll be able to record the output from your source and record it to a BluRay or DVD.
More adventurous users can use the advanced mode, which allows you much greater freedom in setting up your source and recording its content. Not only can you record to a DVD or BluRay disk, you can also record to a WMV or MPEG file on your computers hard disk.
You also get the opportunity to work with your video to add titles and credits, cool transitions between scenes, and effects to the video itself such as sepia and blurring. To be honest, these additional features are also available for free in packages like Windows Live Movie Maker, but at least this way you don’t have to process your video through a second application before coming up with the finished article.
The only analogue video device that I had to hand was a Nintendo Wii, so I used it to capture video and audio onto my computers hard disk and then manipulate this with the effects tools that come with the package.
First and foremost, the video output itself isn’t discernible from the video output you’d find on your TV, it’s every bit as clear and crisp as a composite signal can get. Audio is also captured with no loss of clarity from the original, you truly get on your PC screen what you would get on your TV.
When it comes to processing your video, adding titles and effects, the offering within the package is pretty anaemic. It’ll be fine for anyone who just wants to quickly add a title screen to their home videos, but it doesn’t offer you anything that you would want to use in, say, promotional materials.
In truth, I would have liked to have borrowed back the record deck that I loaned to a family member to see how good this system handled my old records, but sadly this wasn’t possible. That being said, the process for recording just the audio is very simple, and you get a decent quality digital file which sounds no worse than a purchased MP3 file.
If you’re a person that still has a large analogue video and audio library then you really should think about digitising it in some form, it’s just common sense.
This kit does offer you a means of doing that, and the software is useful to a degree whether you’re IT illiterate or a celebrated digital media guru. My only gripe with the product is its price.
At around £60 it doesn’t feel like you’re getting a whole lot of bang for your buck. The product itself is pretty good, but I certainly would have liked some more features and templates in the bundled software. When you can buy a fully fledged video editing suite for around the same price, it does seem like you’re getting done over a little. Even some free video editing suites contain the same or better functionality, so it’s a shame that Honestech haven’t included more than a few basic tools.
That being said, the wizard mode in particular will be a godsend for those that just want a quick digital copy of their old VHS cassettes, so if you have a large enough library of irreplaceable home movies, then this could be a good solution for you to quickly and easily get them backed up.