What is it? Roxio Easy VHS to DVD available for £39 from Amazon UK, lets you “Create DVD movies from your VHS tapes and Hi8 or V8 home videos” or alternatively it lets you “Transfer video tape formats to your PC or DVD” – you don’t have to put them on DVD if you don’t want to, you can put them on your PC first and edit them or re-arrange them first.
What does it need? USB2 socket, video inputs: Composite video (RCA) and S-Video (mini-DIN), audio inputs: stereo audio (RCA x 2).
In the box you’ll find: a USB dongle, a USB extension cable, USB audio / s-video / composite lead, software CD rom (with cd key), instruction manual, and warning card telling you to plug to dongle in first before installing the software.
PC minimum requirements: Windows Vista / XP with 1ghz CPU, 512mb ram, DX9 gfx card, sound card, DVD-rom drive, 2gb free HD space for install, Windows media player 10 or higher, CD writer for VCD, SVCD and DVD writer for DVD, IE7, one available USB2 socket.
Install: 15 minutes to install. Seems to go very slowly and seems like it’s crashed during the install – patience is a virtue as they say.
Problems: Plugging in the USB dongle AFTER installing the software CD will cause problems. The USB dongle should be plugged in BEFORE installing the software. If you do it the wrong way round and the computer says “Driver not found”, then go to http://www.roxio.com/go/videousb and download the usb dongle driver – installing this should fix it.
Another potential problem you may get is the “Signal protected” error message even though the signal is not copy-protected. There is a fix for this from roxio available here (although so far I have not had to use this).
And some more problems I left the capture running, came back to find the video out of line, unplugging the usb dongle and reconnecting crashed the PC completely and it rebooted. Later I recaptured some more video went to close Roxio Media Import, and it crashed.
Using the software The program starts with a friendly wizard with the following options: Capture video, plug and burn, digitize lps and tapes, burn audio cds, burn mp3 cds, capture audio from soundcard. You can also select additional menus from the left – the one I’ve been using is the Video – Movies menu. The program comes with a software manager that will let you know when any critical or important updates are available.
Capturing video using Roxio Media Import – Capture settings – You have various options – DV 720×576 (AVI), DVD HQ (720×576, MPEG2 8mbps), DVD SP (352×576, MPEG2 4mbps), DVD LP (352×288, MPEG1, 1.7mbps), VCD (352×288, MPEG1, 1.12mbps) – none of them say “VHS-PAL” which you would think would be the most suitable option so that you are using the most accurate and efficient capture method. This would also enable the most efficient use of hard drive space. Why encode it as DVD quality or higher?
Making DVDs: After capturing the video you can: Edit the video using Roxio VideoWave and / or then turn it into a DVD using Roxio MyDVD. This is fairly straightforward, however, as soon as you start a new project in MyDVD, it automatically adds hideous buttons, background pictures, and music, and then everytime you add a video file to it, it uses the same horrible buttons, similar to “WordArt”. Changing it is thankfully quite straightforward – and results can turn out quit well (as can be seen above). After it re-encodes the video to fit the DVD, and writes it to the DVD, you can then use “Create labels” to create the DVD label, and print out a Lightscribe label.
Additional features / thoughts The dongle also lets you capture audio “LPs and Audio Tapes” according to the box. (Although your sound card probably already lets you do this, but I guess it’s a nice marketing sticker they can put on the box). You may already have S-video on your graphics card, which may have let you capture VHS / video without having to buy this dongle, assuming you have the right card / cable and software.
Overall: Roxio Easy VHS to DVD does what it says on the box, assuming you can get past the potentially numerous problems, or assuming you don’t have as many problems as me! Reviews on Amazon UK are mixed with some people having success, others much less. The price, at £39, is reasonable, with other solutions (Magix Rescue Your Videotapes also comes with a USB dongle) priced almost identically. It’s difficult to come to a succinct conclusion, it worked for me, but the number of problems myself and many others have faced make it difficult to recommend. I tested this with a high performance PC (Quad core, 4gb ram, 500gb hard drive etc), running Windows XP SP2, and would have expected slightly better performance.