How to convert VHS to digital

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If you want to keep old home movies or taped TV shows or movies stored on VHS tapes, here’s how to put them on DVD or convert them to a digital format such as MP4. VHS tapes are poor quality. If you haven’t viewed one for a while, therefore, it would be a good idea to play one to see if you’re still happy with them after becoming spoiled by the much-improved quality of more modern video formats.

How can I convert VHS to DVD?

After all, digitising your old tapes won’t improve the resolution one bit. Do take a good look at your old tapes before starting. If they’ve been gathering dust try to clean as much as you can from the part of the cassette where the tape is exposed to prevent it being drawn inside once you play it. Also, make sure the spindles haven’t seized up. If they have, try to get them moving by hand before trying to play the offending tape.

spindles

Most people will want to go down the cheaper route. One option is a VHS/DVD combo player (again widely available new and second hand, even though they’re largely obsolete) since most of these will let you record from VHS directly to a DVD (which can then be ‘ripped’ to a digital file on your laptop if that’s what you want).

A similar solution is to connect the video output on a VHS player to the video input of a DVD recorder. For this, you’ll need an A/V cable or a cable with composite video and RCA (phono) audio connectors. If you don’t have a DVD recorder then your PC will provide the means of digitising your VHS tapes and, optionally, burning it to a DVD. However, you will need some additional video capture hardware and its associated software.

Since image quality really isn’t an issue with VHS tapes (i.e. it’s inherently poor) issues such as price, ease-of-use, reliability and quality of the support will be the main issues you should consider when choosing software.

If you don’t have a DVD recorder then your PC will provide the means of digitising your VHS tapes and, optionally, burning it to a DVD. However, you will need some additional video capture hardware and its associated software. Since image quality really isn’t an issue with VHS tapes (i.e. it’s inherently poor) issues such as price, ease-of-use, reliability and quality of the support will be the main issues you should consider when choosing software.

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