Reviewed by David Savage
People of a certain age will remember video tapes and will probably still have a video tape collection (as does my mum) and home movies on video tape. This could be costly to transfer all your tapes to DVD or Blu-ray discs but the Honestech VHS to DVD system is an inexpensive and effortless way to transfer your own tapes on to DVD or Blu-ray (and even edit them if you wanted to).
On receiving the Honestech VHS to DVD 7.0 Deluxe I was eager to try it and see how it worked or even if it worked. Inside the package is the small capture device (measures approx. 9 x 6 x 2cm), RCA cable (Composite),USB cable, Scart connecter, Software CD and a quick setup guide. You will need your computer/laptop to be equipped with a DVD or Blu-ray recorder to transfer to disc (you do have options to save to a folder on your hard disk drive or even to Facebook or YouTube).
Installation was very simple. The first step is to install the software from the CD provided following the onscreen instructions. This took a few minutes and installed without any problems. I installed on a laptop running Windows 8.1 but will work with Windows XP upwards.
Next was to connect the capture device. Again very straightforward – plug in the RCA cables (red, yellow and white) into the colour coded connectors on the back of the device and either into the supplied Scart connector and then plug that into your VCR or plug the 3 coloured cables into your VCR directly (if your VCR supports them).
Once that is completed all you need to do in plug the capture device into your computer using the supplied USB cable. No technical knowledge needed.
Now after such an easy installation I was ready to start the video transfer. On opening up the software I was greeted by a splash screen with 3 options: Easy Wizard Mode, Advanced Mode and Audio Recorder.
I chose to use the Easy Wizard Mode as all I wanted to do was transfer a video recording to DVD (with the advanced mode you can edit the captured video before putting on DVD). Once clicking on the Easy Wizard Mode icon you are then asked your disc type, DVD or Blu-ray, if you don’t have a recorder you can click the option to save as a folder on your hard drive for later burning. Next is a screen with six options; Camcorder, VCR, TV/Antenna, DVD Player, Game Console and Set Top Box. As I have connected a VCR I clicked this icon. Next you select the cable connection type, in my case RCA (Composite), you can also use S-Video. The next screen shows you how to connect your devices which I had done before starting. On the next screen is where you set your recording time as obviously you wouldn’t want to record a full 3 hour video tape if you only had 10 minutes of film on it (if you set for over 2 hours the image quality will reduce). Next you will see a preview screen to view the device you are recording from, so once the video tape is playing it is displayed in the preview and when you get to the point you want to record from you just click the record button on the screen. Once the recording time I set had finished it started to automatically burn to DVD (providing you have a recorder on your laptop or PC).
That’s was it, all very simple. Once it had finished copying to DVD I was very keen to see how it turned out. While the copy wasn’t as good as the original (it was a little bit grainy). I did also try from DVD afterwards and again wasn’t as good as the original but was still quite good but most of all is watchable. A very simple solution to transfer to DVD without the need for any technical skills.
The Advanced Mode option gives you much more control allowing up to 2 hours 13 minutes of video on to a DVD (4.7GB) using average quality (Best Quality will give a recording time of 1 hour 9 minutes). Here you can also set TV standard (PAL or NTSC) and recording resolution. In this mode you can also edit your captured video and transfer to Facebook and YouTube should you wish (there are also options for iPhone, iPad, iPod and SkyDrive.
The third option available is the Audio Recorder. This allows you to record from cassettes, LP records and video cassettes and create WMA files and audio CD’s. So if you still have old audio cassettes you can easily transfer to your computer or onto CD’s.
Overall, I’m very impressed by this tiny capture device and its ease of use. The installation was simple and straightforward without any complications. Using the Easy Wizard Mode to transfer and convert a video tape to DVD was very done in a few simple clicks without the need for any complicated set up. The Advanced Mode lets you edit and customise your video including adding music and effects.
While the finished transfer was a little bit grainy the quality was very good (I expected this from video tape but thought the quality when transferring from DVD would have been slightly better). This is a great way of transferring old video tapes, that degrade with use and time, to a digital format so that you can give copies of your family memories to your entire family or even share on Facebook and YouTube.
As for value for money, it is well worth the RRP of £59.99, especially when you consider that if you took 1 video tape to a company that will do this for you, you would be looking at paying around £10+ per video tape.
The Honestech VHS to DVD 7.0 Deluxe capture device is a great little device and I highly recommend it. Although it says VHS to DVD it does so much more than that capturing from lots of devices to save on your computer, DVD, Blu-ray, cloud storage or sharing on your favourite social media.
For more information visit www.honestech.com.
Available to buy from Amazon here.
Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8
Processor: Intel Pentium D 3.60Ghz, Pentium M 2.26Ghz, Pentium Core 2 Duo1.86Ghz or higher. AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 3600+ or higher
Memory: 1GB Ram
Hard Disk Space: 700MB for program installation. 10GB for DVD creation. 25GB for Blu-ray creation
Ports: USB 2.0
Needed for disc creation: CD Writer (VCD, SVCD), DVD Writer for DVD or Blu-ray Writer for Blu-ray