The best VHS to DVD converters can be a lifesaver for anyone with old video or camcorder tapes that contain valuable memories. Because even when stored properly, magnetic tapes experience deterioration and decay – within as little as 10 years. So it’s basically a race against time to transfer them to a digital format, before you lose them forever (and before your video player breaks down).
There are a range of VHS to DVD converters on the market, but they all work in roughly the same way. You get a cable that connects to your video recorder or pre-digital camcorder, to gather the footage, and a USB cable to transfer it to your computer. You can then burn the digital files to DVD, share them with loved ones via email, upload them to YouTube or Facebook, or just store them in the cloud for safekeeping.
To choose between VHS to DVD converters, the most important thing is to check what ‘Out’ ports you have on your old video recorder or camcorder.
The most common is RCA, which is three round slots that are white, yellow and red respectively (also known as phono connectors). There’s also S-Video, which offers better image quality, and SCART, which is the best of the three. Most VHS to DVD converters only have connectors for RCA ports, but some offer two, or all three.
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VHS to DVD converters are normally bundled with software that allow you to use them. With pricier devices, this software often includes editing and DVD burning tools as well. However, note that this software is normally supplied on CD-ROM, so if you don’t have a disc drive, it’s usually available to download it from the web. The suppliers of these products don’t seem to make this easy, though: you’ll normally have to search the user manual for a URL or, in the last resort, email the manufacturer.
A final word of warning. A quick glance down the customer reviews of these products on Amazon suggests that whether VHS to DVD converters actually work in practice can be a hit and miss affair. We’re dealing here with multiple generations of incompatible technologies, not to mention aging machines versus continually updated Windows and Mac operating systems, so that’s not a huge surprise. But it does mean you should avoid getting your hopes up too much, and keep an eye on those returns policies.
6 best VHS to DVD converters in 2021
While the quality of any old video footage you have is going to look pretty ropey to anyone used to crystal-clear HD, you still want to translate it to digital as accurately as possible, and avoid losing any further definition in either the audio or video. And with that in mind, Elgato’s is the best VHS to DVD converter we can recommend.
It supports RCA, S-Video and SCART inputs, so you should be able to connect any VHS recorder or camcorder, and is compatible with all recent versions of Windows and macOS. And while it’s the most expensive device on our list, the better picture quality may well make that investment worth it to you.
The Elgato may be the best VHS to DVD converter overall, but it sure is expensive. So if you’re looking for something more affordable, we’d suggest this more affordable device from Digitnow. While it may not reproduce your video and audio as accurately as the Elgato, it does a pretty decent job nonetheless.
You can plug it in to either RCA or S-video connectors, and it also comes with a SCART adapter. Note that this VHS to DVD converter is compatible with all recent versions of Windows and some versions of MacOS, although it doesn’t support macOS Mojave 10.14 or 10.15 Catalina.
Diginow offers another VHS to digital converter that’s a little pricier than number 2 on our list. What you get in return is a wider variety of ways to play your captured video.
First, it has its own internal screen, so you can watch it directly on the device itself. Second, you can play it on your TV using your own HDMI or AV cable. Thirdly, you can record it onto your own memory card. Or fourthly, you can transfer it to your Windows computer via the supplied USB cable. Note that there’s no S-video or SCART connector though, and that this device isn’t compatible with macOS.
Another cheap and cheerful VHS to DVD converter, the notable thing about this device is that the company provides 24-hour online technical support and a one-year money back guarantee. Other than that, it’s pretty standard stuff, including an RCA connector for your video recorder or camcorder (but no S-video or Scart), and a USB cable to plug into your Windows PC or Mac. Note: the included software comes on a disc, but if you don’t have a disc drive, there’s a download link in the user guide.
Most editing software that comes with VHS to DVD converters is quite frankly, a bit rubbish. But here’s the exception: the Diamond VC500 comes with a free copy of Cyberlink’s Power Director. This consumer-level video editing software is a standalone, paid-for product in its own right, and although this is quite an old version (released in 2013), it’s still pretty capable.
Meanwhile the device itself isn’t anything particularly special, but it does the job, sells for an affordable price, and offers S-video input as well as RCA. Note though, there are separate Windows and Apple versions, so you need to check you are buying the right version for your computer.
The cheesy name and dodgy clip-art advertising may instantly put you off Video-2-PC... and we wouldn’t blame you. But surprisingly, this easy to use device is still one of the best VHS to DVD converters available today.
Allowing you to capture video from any VHS, S-VHS or Betamax VCR with a Scart output, it includes software to capture, timeline edit, produce MP4 video files or burn to DVD. And if you don’t have a disc drive then don’t worry, as download links are also available. The company provides both written instructions and a video tutorial to get you started, plus there’s a 28-day money back guarantee.
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