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Roxio Easy VHS to DVD review

Seth Barton
21 May 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
29
inc VAT

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It's not just TV broadcasts that are going through a digital switchover; analogue video tapes are also fast becoming obsolete.

There may not be a fixed date for converting your videos to digital formats, but those old tapes certainly aren't improving with age, so maybe now's the time to capture them to your PC.

Here, we look at two all-in-one kits for PC video capture: Magix's Rescue Your Videotapes (RYVT) and Roxio's Easy VHS to DVD (EVD). Both provide all the software and hardware you're likely to need, apart from a VCR or camcorder on which to play your old tapes.

Could it be Magix?

The RYVT box contains a USB video-capture stick with composite, stereo phono and S-video inputs. Most camcorders have composite and phono outputs, as do many VCRs, but for those few VCRs that don't have composite video out, Magix has thoughtfully supplied a SCART adaptor. Handy tutorial videos help you hook everything up properly.

Installing the software and hardware was easy. The supplied Movies on DVD 7 application isn't the most attractive piece of software we've used, but it integrates video capture, editing and DVD authoring into a single program. Three tabs let you flick back and forth easily between these key steps.

The default option is to capture video to Magix's own proprietary MXV video format. If you're writing it to DVD, you should change this to MPEG2 so that the software doesn't have to re-encode it to MPEG2 before burning the finished disc. Before you can do this, however, you'll have to register the software online and get an email with a confirmation code. This is a pain given that you've already entered a serial code to install it in the first place. You can also capture directly to MPEG4, but not without paying an additional £3.99 for the codec - a ludicrous situation given that MPEG4 has no licensing restrictions.

There are plenty of other capture options on offer. You can set the bit rate, frame rate and aspect ratio, as well as encoding quality, motion compensation and noise sensitivity. If you set the latter three options too high, some PCs may struggle with the real-time video capture, but the software indicates CPU usage and dropped frames, so you can push your PC as far as possible. There are also numerous options for cleaning up your video. You can adjust brightness, gamma, contrast, white balance, saturation and sharpness. Captured video looked a little garish, but you can easily tone this down.

The edit tab contains all the basic editing tools you'll need to string together clips and add music, transitions and titles. Finally you can burn the results to DVD or export them to a limited variety of video file formats, including WMV, MPEG1, MPEG2 and QuickTime - but again there's no built-in MPEG4 support. It's not bad, but we've seen DVD authoring tools that were easier to grasp, and the supplied menu themes are unlikely to impress anyone.

Roxio and roll

EVD's USB capture device is essentially the same as the one bundled with Magix's RYVT, with composite, stereo phono and S-video inputs. There's no SCART adaptor supplied with this kit, but you can pick one up online for £2 including VAT (see www.cableuniverse.co.uk). It was easy to get everything installed and working.

The software is essentially a cut-down version of Roxio's Creator 2009 media suite. Like its bigger brother, it looks great and is easy to use. Different windows handle capturing, editing and burning video, and navigating through the various steps is simple. Compared with RYVT's tabs, however, it's not as easy to take a quick step back.

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