Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Watching VHS tapes on Mac iBook ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Watching VHS tapes on Mac iBook
Category: Computers
Asked by: chrysippus-ga
List Price: $45.00
Posted: 31 Jul 2003 09:20 PDT
Expires: 30 Aug 2003 09:20 PDT
Question ID: 237383
Summary: Is there any way I can use my iBook as a monitor for my VCR? 
I'd like to watch -- not capture, just watch -- VHS tapes with my
iBook (running OSX 10.2.6; 256MB memory, 700 MHz PowerPC G3

Details: I've got a VCR and lots of tapes; I've got a clunky, old and
big TV; and I've got a nice, shiny, and most of all *small* iBook.  I
only ever use the TV as a monitor for the VCR, and it's a hassle to
lug it in & out of storage every time I get a hankering to watch a
tape.  If I could hook the VCR up to the iBook & watch my tapes
through iMovie (or something else), then I could get rid of the TV
(thereby reclaiming the precious space it takes up in my tiny
apartment) and I'd be a much happier camper.

If the only way to do that is to burn the tapes to CDs, I can do that
(I've only got a CD burner, though -- no DVD burner), but I suppose
I'd rather avoid that, at least for now.  (If that turns out to be the
answer, I'll need instructions on how to do that too.)

Plenty of websites will tell me how to capture video & transfer it to
disk; plenty more will tell me how to funnel my computer screen's
image to an external monitor; but what about going in the opposite
direction?  Surely I'm not the only person who wants to consolidate
her screens?
Subject: Re: Watching VHS tapes on Mac iBook
Answered By: kyrie26-ga on 31 Jul 2003 15:03 PDT
Hello there chrysippus-ga!

It sounds like you need a video capture device that is

I did a Froogle search for you and found you a range of ideal products
to choose from. Have a look :

Search strategy :

Froogle search on 'ibook video capture', narrowed to under $130 :

All you do is hook the video capture module up to your iBook using USB
(the installation should be a cakewalk), hook up the VCR into the
module, and voila! You are in business!

Please don't hesitate to post a Request For Clarification if you need
further information.

Enjoy your increased living space and entertainment at your



Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 31 Jul 2003 15:04 PDT
Hi again,

Oops - I just realized that you specified NOT CAPTURE... give me a
moment while I refine my answer, I'll get back to you ASAP... thanks.


Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 31 Jul 2003 15:13 PDT

I did further research and found that the term "video capture" is very
common among such products, because when you have a video input it is
very to "capture" (i.e. record) the stream either as a still image or
a motion clip. So "video capture" is an additional capability that you
get with these modules, at no premium.

So yes, any of those products I specified earlier should work.

Here's also another link :

"tv tuner" under $100

This "XCLAIM TV USB Edition Mac" should work nicely for you, and it's
a good price too.



Request for Answer Clarification by chrysippus-ga on 31 Jul 2003 15:33 PDT
Hi! Thanks for the quick response.  My only concern about the devices
you suggested is whether they'd actually work for real-time video
watching: in some of the stuff I ran across, people said there were
e.g. audio synchronization problems during capture (though not in
playing back a version subsequently burned to disk).  Do you have any
sense about whether I'd get a satisfactory--forgive the
expression--'viewing experience' with these?

Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 31 Jul 2003 16:11 PDT
Hi Chrysippus-ga,

Any possible audio synchronization problems would be an issue of
hardware performance, not of technical feasibility. As far as these
modules go, they should not be the limiting factor, the only thing I
can think of is if you have a slow display card (ie. with a low
refresh rate), that you may have problems. Given the specs on your
iBook, I doubt that would be a problem.

To give you more background - the video and audio streams coming from
your VCR are two separate streams, as you may tell from the output
jacks. Usually, audio is analog, so there is no issue of performance,
since you could theoretically plug it into any speaker system and hear
the audio right away. As for video, however, if you plug it into an
older system with low display performance, you may get some stutter or
lag, compared to audio (since audio is always on track).

However, since people use the TV Tuner video card to watch TV, and
since the output stream from a TV is the same as from a VCR, then we
can conclude that you can also "watch" from your VCR in the same way.
I would make that decision in full confidence.

Also, from the product descriptions it sounds like these products are
geared for you to "watch' (i.e. the XCLAIM), and then video capture is
an additional feature.

If there's any issue with your newly purchased module, I believe you
have every right to return the product and get a full refund!

Just out of curiosity though, can you point me to the sources that
highlight this issue? Maybe analyzing that would help.



Request for Answer Clarification by chrysippus-ga on 31 Jul 2003 17:51 PDT
And thanks again!  Naturally, I now can't find where I (believe I) saw
that claim about possible audio sync problems, and a trawl through my
browser history doesn't pull it up either.  *sigh*  Sorry about that. 
(Though further random searching on Mac review sites does produce
, and the Dazzle forums likewise suggest that lots of people have sync
problems with some of those products.)

Anyway, I'll try one of the ones you recommend.  Thanks for the

Clarification of Answer by kyrie26-ga on 31 Jul 2003 18:18 PDT

I believe those are isolated cases, and relate to the product itself
(there are always bad products out there for any given technology) -
and it is not an issue with the technology. I would go ahead and try
any one of these. If still in doubt, you can always search for a
review of the specific product before buying. If you need any more
help, feel free to ask... otherwise we may consider this question
answered. Thanks, and enjoy your experience.

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy