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Over the years I have managed to keep lots of interesting moments in my life on video but, now that I no longer use my VHS player, it occurred to me that if I didn't do something with the tapes they could be lost forever. I know there are services that will transfer VHS to DVD but as many of mine were just little short clips I really wanted to do the job myself. I went on to the internet to look for options and I discovered the Honestech VHS to DVD package at Maplin for less than £50, it seemed to do what I wanted it to do so I placed my order. In due course it arrived so I proceeded to gather together my old videos with a view to storing them for the future.
Out of the box
It duly arrived and it didn't take me long to open the package to see what I had got. In the pack was a little box about 4" x 3" x1" thick which is the hardware used for transfer, there were two leads one is the USB connection lead to the PC and the other is for the input from the VHS player and has three connectors on each end (red, yellow and white). Also included was a SCART connector in case the input device has a SCART socket. There was also an instruction leaflet and a disc containing the software.
My first taks was to install the software on to my laptop and within minutes that was complete. Next I connected the cable between my TV with built in VHS player and the Honestech box and then connected the Honestech box to the laptop. I started the software and had the choice of using either the Easy Wizard or Advanced mode in order to transfer to DVD.
Using the device
My first choice was to try the Easy Wizard option and I found it was simplicity itself. You choose the type of device you are recording from, if you want to record in widescreen you can choose that option and you can set a time for your recording. The software shows you a little screen which shows the replay from the VHS device, when you reach the point where you want to start the recording you just press start and the recording begins. You can adjust the sound level of your recording, if you want to do so, to ensure that you are at the right level. You can also if you wish preselect the time of your recording so that the machine will stop recording when that time is elapsed or you can do what I did which is select a time of around an hour and stop the recording when you reach the end.
Once recorded you are ready to burn to DVD. It asks you to insert a blank DVD into the drive and it checks it to make sure it is blank and the right type of disc. When you are ready, press burn and leave it to work its magic. It depends on the length of your recording how long this process takes but once it is completed it will eject the disc so you can go off and do other things if you want. Once completed it will ask if you want to make a second copy which is really helpful if you want to do copies for other people.
That was great for my first recording but what I really wanted was to be able to record several little clips on to one DVD and that isn't possible in the easy Wizard so I decided to try out the Advanced mode which offers editing features. To use that you really need to look at the handbook which is installed as a PDF file as part of the installation process. I found it easy enough to use advanced mode once I had looked at what it was capable of and within no time I had found out how to record half a dozen clips on one DVD and include a menu to make them easy to find and insert titles on to each clip. You can also if you wish edit the individual clips, add soundtrack etc etc so my view is that the software is pretty good although I wouldn't pretend to have used all the options available. It is a much slower process burning a whole DVD by this method but it is very flexible as it allows you to choose formats.
Would I recommend it?
Yes I would, if you have lots of video clips or old camera footage that you want to convert to DVD or change to formats to allow you to upload them to YouTube. You will need to venture into Advanced mode to get the best out of it but for simply copying from VHS to DVD the Easy Wizard is quite effective. I have certainly had fun with it and the only thng I need to do now is find a home for my old VHS recorder and dump my old tapes!
One word of warning - if you just want to copy things to archive them and don't want to go back to edit your 'projects' in the future you might want to delete them from your hard drive as they do take up a lot of space!