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Q: Aarrgh! VHS and PC question. I'm stumped! ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Aarrgh! VHS and PC question. I'm stumped!
Category: Computers > Hardware
Asked by: pinkhippo-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 26 Feb 2004 04:35 PST
Expires: 27 Mar 2004 04:35 PST
Question ID: 310949

I am in the UK, so please bear this in mind.

I have been looking into the possibility of burning my VHS tapes onto DVD.

Problems that I am finding answers for:

- How do I know that my PC has a TV/Video card?

- I am confused as to whether I need a TV card to be able to record my
VHS tapes onto DVD.

- I can't find out how to actually connect my VCR to my PC. 

- Do I need some sort of gizmo or special leads to be able to connect VCR to PC?

- Because I haven't worked out these issues, I have not yet purchased
a DVD burner. I would like an external one, with USB lead. Any
recommendations, at a good price?

- Which DVD burner should I get? I am confused about DVD + and - and
RW or R etc. I want one where I can loan a spare DVD copy to friends,
possibly some in the USA. So would need to be region 0 or region

- My VCR has a scart socket, so I would like to utilise this. 

- I have 3 USB ports on my PC. But I am not sure if they are 2.0 (or
whatever it is called). Whilst Googling I noticed that most articles
say that 2.0 is recommended, so how do I find out if I have 2.0? And
if I don't, can I get away with it?

- Hopefully, once I have been able to copy the VHS onto my PC, are
there any software that I should get?

Subject: Re: Aarrgh! VHS and PC question. I'm stumped!
Answered By: majortom-ga on 26 Feb 2004 07:34 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, pinkhippo-ga, 

Thanks for the opportunity to answer this interesting question.

> - How do I know that my PC has a TV/Video card?

Look where your monitor cable plugs into the back of your computer. In
the same vicinity there should be a composite video jack (an RCA-style
jack as commonly used with VCRs and stereo equipment), and/or an
S-video jack, clearly labeled as being for INPUT rather than output.
This distinction is very important; if they are output jacks, then
they are only useful for using a TV or VCR to view the output of your
computer, not the other way around. But they will be labeled. There
may also be an antenna-cable-style RG-6 jack for coaxial cable, if
your TV card has a tuner built into it. You can find a good picture of
a typical TV/video capture card here:

Video Capture Card - FlyVideo 2000 FlyVideo 3000

Note: although that page quotes US prices, the card shown is for both
PAL and NTSC video (PAL is the European standard, as I'm sure you

Note that if you purchased a typical PC with a typical video output
card, or built-in video on the motherboard, you almost certainly do
not already have a TV/video capture card. It is not a standard item
included with most personal computers. In most cases you would have
purchased it yourself and you would already know about it. Judging
from your other comments about not being able to figure out how to
connect your VCR to your PC, you simply do not have a TV/video card at
this time.

TV/Video capture cards are not expensive items. Simply as an example,
Amazon UK has the following card for sale: Electronics & Photo: Swann Ezy Capture Card

The card you purchase will include complete instructions for hooking
up your VCR, of course.

As to the matter of DVD burners, the items I'm finding do specify a
USB 2.0 port. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no guarantee that
a DVD burned on a personal burner will play on all ordinary DVD
players. In fact, you may have more luck playing a VCD (video CD)
burned on an ordinary CD-R burner in a typical DVD player; most DVD
players can also accept CDs and have support for the VCD format. For
complete information on the subject of compatibility between CD
burners (for making VCDs), DVD burners, and typical home DVD players,
see the & site, which has very extensive
information about which formats are compatible with which players: &

The above site also has information about TV/video capture cards,
including whether they support various forms of video input.

To summarize the competing DVD standards: the "R" and "RW" simply
denotes whether the DVD can be written to just once (R) or erased and
rewritten many times (RW). Of course, the DVD-RW discs cost more, but
devices that can write DVD-RW can also write DVD-R on the cheaper
single-use discs.

The + and - are in fact competing, incompatible standards. Some
writers support both formats. According to the site,
DVD-R can be read by a larger number of DVD players than DVD+R.

> If I don't [have USB 2.0], can I get away with it?

About.Com's web site says that USB 1.0 and 1.1 are not suitable for
use with external CD and DVD writers:

Before You Buy: CD and DVD Writers

If your USB ports are too slow, you can purchase a USB 2.0-compliant
card for your computer that provides USB 2.0 ports, or you can
purchase an internal IDE DVD writer instead. Internal writers are
cheaper, although installation is more challenging.

> Any software that I should get? has an article on how to convert VHS to DVD, mostly
with freely available software, plus a DVD writing package such as
Nero Burning ROM, which in many cases is included with your DVD writer
when you purchase it. You can find that article here:

Tom's Hardware Guide Audio Video: Workshop: A Digital Facelift for
Your Analog Movies - Introduction

> So would need to be region 0 or region friendly.

DVDs you burn on your own DVD writer are region 0 unless you specify otherwise.

Thank you for the opportunity to answer this question!
pinkhippo-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Sorry it took me so long to rate it!

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