Does movie-to-DVD capture work? - The Buffalo News

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Does movie-to-DVD capture work?

Those VHS tapes that you made in the prehistoric days before DVDs and that are gathering mold in your garage are degrading faster than your kids are growing up.

They – the tapes, but mostly not the kids – are degrading because that’s the way tape is. VHS tapes fall apart over time at worst, or lose color and clarity at best. But there are several ways to save those tapes that were created by a camcorder as large as a threshing machine.

Roxio Easy VHS to DVD (version 3) is one of them. Maybe.

I’ve been testing it for the better part of a week, and I’m underwhelmed. Despite high hopes, I couldn’t get it to work. And because Roxio doesn’t offer live tech support, I can’t give you a real-world evaluation. If ever there was a reason for offering limited phone support, this was it. As it is, you get a measly 14 days of email support if you register. Puzzlingly, each time I called up the software, I was asked to register again. Something is very wrong here.

There are better, workable ways to capture VHS moments. IGrabber, for one, lets you edit clips on the fly, and save them to the desktop. From there, the clips can be imported into Pinnacle or other movie-editing software, where you can add sound or music tracks and titles and fine-tune your editing.

These products have similarities. Both have devices that connect to a VHS player – remember those? – or camcorder through blue, yellow and white cables. The other end is connected to a USB port on a computer. The iGrabber has a button that allows you to stop and start recording. The Roxio converter doesn’t allow saving clips to the desktop, as far as I could tell; recordings go directly to a DVD. To edit on the fly, you have a record button on the software interface.

Both programs have preview windows that display the movies that are being recorded, although the preview window on the Roxio program just stayed blue in my tests. The Roxio program boasts a sound enhancer that clears the static and other annoying hisses from an LP or cassette tape. It will also transfer cassette audiotapes to DVDs, cleaning up degrading noise along the way. The Roxio program also has a label-maker.

The Roxio program says it will help correct video noise, shaky clips and color problems, and it will allow you to create transitions and credits. It’s also able to split movies onto multiple DVDs. I guess.

While comparing iGrabber ($30 on to the Roxio program may not be appropriate or fair, given the fact that I couldn’t get the latter program to work, iGrabber worked right out of the box.

As it is, I sent an email to the Roxio folks for help, and got a link to a page that outlined the minimum requirements for running the program, all of which I had figured out anyway, except for the part about barking at the moon.

As if I haven’t complained enough, the Roxio cable is way too short.

Now the really bad news. When I installed the Roxio program for the first time, my PC’s screen turned black. Coincidence? Maybe. Probably, if I’m in a forgiving mood. When I reinstalled the Roxio software, it simply refused to acknowledge that a VCR was hooked up to my PC. For argument’s sake, I hooked up the same color-coded cords on iGrabber, and it recognized the VCR immediately. Did I mention that live tech support could have solved the problem with the Roxio software?

The version I tried to evaluate is for Windows; another version is available for Macs. The Windows program that I tried also allows transfers to iPhones, iPads and Android devices. It also helps you upload videos to Facebook and YouTube. Lotsa luck with any of those features.

Roxio Easy VHS to DVD costs about $60. There is a phone number for sales, of course. For more information, visit

As I said, I had high hopes for this software/hardware device. But waiting for its netherworld tech support to at least try to fix my problem had me worried. My kids are getting older, and the VHS tapes on which they starred are getting older, too.

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