watching VCR tapes

daveyjay

Well-known member
Dec 2, 2008
126
7
18,595
Visit site
My father in law has asked me what would be the best way to still be able to view his old collection of VHS tapes once he's dragged himself into the twenty first century and bought a nice flat screen tv. I've given him a list of what I think may be his options:

1/ Connect the VCR to the tv using a scart lead - Not sure if this would actually work. Picture would be pretty poor.

2/ Transfer the videos over to DVD - Just connect the VCR to the DVD player, press a few buttons. Time consuming. Picture would be pretty poor.

3/ Pay a company to transfer the videos to DVD - expensive. Picture would be pretty poor.

4/ Forget the whole thing, dump the VCR and tapes - Nobody ever looked quite as cool as they thought they did in the eighties, anyway.

Does anyone have any thoughts on any of the above options? Apart from option four, which isn't one.
 

Andrew Everard

New member
May 30, 2007
1,878
2
0
Visit site
daveyjay said:
1/ Connect the VCR to the tv using a scart lead - Not sure if this would actually work. Picture would be pretty poor.

Assuming the TV has a Scart input – which by no means can be taken as read these days – then this is your best, and most cost-effective, option. None of the others is going to give you better quality from the tapes, given their inherent limitations, so it's really not worth spending extra money to try to do so.

Have recently faced the same problem in updating an elderly aunt's viewing with a flatscreen TV/digital recorder, and had to replace a defunct VCR so she could keep on watching some old tapes. Best solution turned out to be a charity shop VCR – an old Sony monster from way back when, for the princely sum of £10!
 

tvmog

Well-known member
Apr 1, 2008
83
2
18,545
Visit site
I bought a £60 Thompson VCR a few years back when I upgraded to Sky HD, just in case I ever needed to watch an old video. It's been in the loft for the past 4 years, but I dug it out over Christmas to watch an old family tape. Connected it to my Panasonic plasma via scart and it worked fine. Picture was as good as VHS is ever going to seem in this day and age, and almost on a par with some of the dodgier SD satellite channels (Men and Movies, The God Channel etc)
 

wireman

New member
Aug 6, 2009
17
0
0
Visit site
daveyjay said:
3/ Pay a company to transfer the videos to DVD - expensive. Picture would be pretty poor.

I considered doing this too... until my brother pointed out that you can buy a widget off the 'bay for under £10 which enables you to connect your old VCR (composite, scart, or S-video out) to your laptop (USB) and then do the copying yourself... with stereo sound too! Either write the DVD on your laptop, or copy to server and stream all your old VHS tape content direct to your telly. I'm still in the process of doing this copying myself, but so far it's working a treat... and quality isn't too bad at all. The USB widget is called "EasyCap" and comes with windows editing software (not 64-bit win 7, but 32 bit 7, XP, Vista, 2000 are okay). You'll also need an extra cheapo lead if you want to take output from your scart socket though - but for a couple of quid more (also off the 'bay), it's a better solution IMHO.
 

Andrew Everard

New member
May 30, 2007
1,878
2
0
Visit site
chudleighpaul said:
Err, what is a VCR?:doh:

l.jpg


To err is human, my child...
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
wireman said:
daveyjay said:
3/ Pay a company to transfer the videos to DVD - expensive. Picture would be pretty poor.

I considered doing this too... until my brother pointed out that you can buy a widget off the 'bay for under £10 which enables you to connect your old VCR (composite, scart, or S-video out) to your laptop (USB) and then do the copying yourself... with stereo sound too! Either write the DVD on your laptop, or copy to server and stream all your old VHS tape content direct to your telly. I'm still in the process of doing this copying myself, but so far it's working a treat... and quality isn't too bad at all. The USB widget is called "EasyCap" and comes with windows editing software (not 64-bit win 7, but 32 bit 7, XP, Vista, 2000 are okay). You'll also need an extra cheapo lead if you want to take output from your scart socket though - but for a couple of quid more (also off the 'bay), it's a better solution IMHO.

Does it circumvent the copy protection on films?

Personally I'd buy them all again on DVD (eBay is your friend) and chuck the tapes out. If you have any 'home movies' then I'd have them copied onto DVD...
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
453
12
18,895
Visit site
wireman said:
I considered doing this too... until my brother pointed out that you can buy a widget off the 'bay for under £10 which enables you to connect your old VCR (composite, scart, or S-video out) to your laptop (USB) and then do the copying yourself... with stereo sound too! Either write the DVD on your laptop, or copy to server and stream all your old VHS tape content direct to your telly. I'm still in the process of doing this copying myself, but so far it's working a treat... and quality isn't too bad at all. The USB widget is called "EasyCap" and comes with windows editing software (not 64-bit win 7, but 32 bit 7, XP, Vista, 2000 are okay). You'll also need an extra cheapo lead if you want to take output from your scart socket though - but for a couple of quid more (also off the 'bay), it's a better solution IMHO.
Really, I have one and found the quality rubbish.

The picture occasionally stutters and there is loads of noise on the audio channels, I chucked it in the bin.
 

ukdavej

New member
Oct 12, 2009
73
0
0
Visit site
I'm with Mr Duncan on tis one (not that I imagine he's bothered :) ) It takes ages to copy Videos to disc and even then the quality is average.

If it's home movie, get it copied professionally, if its just an old Video, buy the DVD version, it will most likely be in the bargain bin at most supermarkets. I have found car boot sales to be a good source of DVD's - I have replaced my Mum's VHS collection of classic musicals for about a fiver (takes a bit of leg work but can be quite rewarding in a weird sort of way)
 

ultraminiature

Well-known member
Aug 13, 2010
53
10
18,545
Visit site
You have not said what is in the collection. If pre-recorded tapes then the film or TV series is likely to be on DVD with a much better quality and might be obtained from charity shops or online from Amazon, Play.com and eBay - if worth watching again.

Having gone through a few collections of old VCRs many had clips, not likely to be easily found on DVD or repeated on TV. Some had TV programmes that you can't find on DVD - if really they want to keep them anyway.Most were unlabelled or had several labels crossed out and nothing as to what they currently had on them.

Home movies are a different thing, even if transferred from Hi8 to standard VHS among assorted unlabelled clips from films and TV, and that is all that is left of family holidays, events and the kids growning up. These may well be worth converting to DVD before the tapes become unplayable as many 30+ year old tapes are. There are ways to get a passable playback by baking them in an oven but the temperature range is tight.

The easiest way to transfer is to hook up the VCR to a DVD recorder. However you can't easily edit them. DVD recorders with hard drives allow the video to go to hard disk and may include some basic editing to remove unwanted material before putting on DVD. A PC/Mac is more flexible but needs a video input card or USB, some software and lots of time.

One reason for transferring to DVD and not simply leaving on a media player or computer is that looking through a bunch of labels DVDs does not require any skill or much thought and is usually faster than using a remote control to navigate through a directory on a PC or media player.

Even so for just a one more time looking though them it is worth hooking up with a SCART cable or RCA video (yellow) and L/R audio (red and white).
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts