Do you have boxes and boxes of family videos on VHS tape that you would like to transfer to DVD without paying a fortune? If so, then the DVD Maker USB 2.0 may be the product you are looking for – just remember that you usually get what you pay for, so you may have to adjust your expectations. Following is my review of :
Having two college-aged kids, I though it would be nice to take all of the VHS tapes that had accumulated over the years, from infancy, preschool, dance recitals, sports, high-school events, family holidays, etc., and transfer them to DVD for the kids (and myself) to keep with their treasured mementos. After doing some online research, I found the DVD Maker USB 2.0 to be the product with the most positive reviews, the least amount of negative feedback and the most reasonably priced (between $45-$60).
The box contained:
1 capture device – USB 2.0 Plug-and-Play Interface
1 “Quick Start Guide”
1 CD-ROM with driver, utilities and basic user manual
1 CD-Rom with Cyberlink PowerDirector v5 software and PowerProducer v4 software
The Quick Start Guide amounted to about ¼ of a page in English – the rest of the sheet was translated into other languages. It all seemed simple enough, so I really wasn’t worried. I installed the software and the driver utilities CDs and proceed to plug the capture device into my computer and VCR.
On one end of the capture device are cords for your source, a yellow video (composite) connection, audio (red and white) connection and an s-video connection. On the other end are the cords to connect to your computer, a USB 2.0 plug and Audio Out (to be plugged into your line-in port for sound).
Problem – I have an old VCR which only has one audio port (white) and this device has two (red and white). I searched for a splitter without any luck, so I had to borrow a “newer” VCR from a friend in order to make the sound work.
After wasting too much time trying to solve that problem, I had it working. Note – I was able to view my small cassettes directly from the video camera without any problem, but for the really old, large VHS tapes, I needed the VCR.
The PowerProducer program contains several options, one allows you to transfer your movie “Right-to-Disc” and another option, “Produce Movie Disc,” allows you to make a more customized DVD, like breaking your movie up into snippets or chapters. There are other options for managing and editing your videos. I was never able to get the “Right-to-Disc” option to work – after about 30 minutes into the movie, the program would freeze up and I would have to reboot the computer and start over. It became very frustrating and was not happy with the lack of product support available.
I ended up using the “Produce Movie Disc” option for everything, which isn’t all bad, as the end result turns out to be a better presentation and easier deal with when viewing, since you can select “chapters’ to view individually if you don’t want to watch the entire movie. It was nice to cut out all of the dead space and lousy takes from the original tape.
I did not use the PowerDirector software much, because whenever I tried to do something with it, I was prompted to upgrade – it seems these programs are the lite version. It would have been helpful if there were manuals included with the software instead of having to hunt for one online.
As for the quality of the recorded DVDs, they turned out to be fairly decent after tweaking the sound settings on my computer and keeping in mind the quality of the original videos. The more recent tapes came out perfect, while the old, grainy tapes came out as new, grainy, DVDs. In the end, I am just grateful for the ability to copy the movies to a format that allows my family to continue to enjoy old times.