DVDR vs PC capture card for transferring VHS - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
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DVDR vs PC capture card for transferring VHS

I have some homemade VHS & S-VHS tapes that I want to transfer to DVD and/or make MPEG files. I've done a few by copying the tape into my Panny EZ-17 and then taking that disc & copying into my PC.

But is it better to feed the video/audio directly into a PC via a capture card such as the Hauppauge 2250 or 2255 or some type of USB device? Will something like a Hauppauge card create a better picture?

Currently I don't have an empty slot in my HTPC in order to try a video capture card. But if the Panny 2 hour SP mode is going to be as good as anything I'll just stick with it.

Anyone have any experience comparing the different methods?
Thanks.
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post #2 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 09:10 AM
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Odds are the two hour mode of a DVD recorder are going to be better than VHS quality, so nothing is really gained by using a PC. Unless you want to capture in some lossless format and intend to apply some filters to the video like color correction, cropping or de-noising.


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post #3 of 19 Old 07-31-2014, 04:30 PM
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DVD recorder is more convenient. It all depends, though, on how picky you are, and how much time and $$ you care to invest into the project.

I think the overall quality is slightly better when using a PC/Capture device (if you have the proper equipment).

I have Panasonic DMR models E50, E55, E30, ES15, ES20, ES25, ES18 (international model), EZ28, and EZ48, as well as 3 Toshiba DR430 units.

I have done comparisons from recordings made on those models, vs capturing to Sony Movie Studio 13 via Canopus ADVC110, and then creating MPEG-2 files with TMPGEnc Video Mastering Works 5.

Granted, the ADVC110 capture compresses to DV, then that is compressed to MPEG-2, but I have better control over bitrate, and the result is better, for the most part.

Both methods have their pros and cons, when it comes to MPEG-2 artifacts.

DVD recorder methods, in my case, result in sometimes seeing a "watery" image in some places (dark backgrounds, etc). However, on the PC/Canopus method, the watery image was less present, but there was slightly more fine pixelation going on in some areas of the picture; not macroblocking, finer than that. But I think the overall look is better.

Neither method is perfect. Like olyteddy mentioned above, with a PC, you can edit and tweak if you want.

It all depends on how much time you want to put into it, and how much a perfectionist you are. I've transferred thousands of tapes using DVD recorders, and had very, very few complaints. And that was years ago (early-to-mid 2000's), and most of the complaints were that the DVD wouldn't play in the customer's player. But that is pretty much a non-issue these days, unless they have a really old DVD player.

I would disagree that 2-hour mode of a DVD recorder is "better" than VHS, on an EZ-17. Maybe with an ES-10, ES-15, or ES-25, which, in my experience, act as somewhat of a TBC, which helps jitter and tearing. They don't have true TBC, but they do definitely help. My ES-20, EZ-28, and EZ-48 don't have the same filters as an ES-10, ES-15, or ES-25, from what I can tell.

I'm not sure about the Hauppauge unit you referenced... Does it have settings for bitrate, etc? So you will know what size of file you will end up with?

Do you plan on editing and re-compressing your files? Is that what you were doing with the EZ-17? If you plan on editing, I don't recommend going to MPEG-2 at all. Something like a Canopus ADVC110/NLE would be better. You will be capturing to DV, which is still compressed, but not nearly as much as MPEG-2.

Be aware, though, that the ADVC-110 does not have any kind of TBC etc. built into it. So if your tapes are not perfect, you may get some video dropouts. Tearing, (or "flagging") will also not be fixed. A standalone TBC would be good when capturing to PC, whether you use the Hauppauge or something like the Canopus ADVC110.

Hope this helps.
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post #4 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 06:05 AM
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I would disagree that 2-hour mode of a DVD recorder is "better" than VHS, on an EZ-17. Maybe with an ES-10, ES-15, or ES-25, which, in my experience, act as somewhat of a TBC, which helps jitter and tearing. They don't have true TBC, but they do definitely help. My ES-20, EZ-28, and EZ-48 don't have the same filters as an ES-10, ES-15, or ES-25, from what I can tell.
Nice post All the models you mentioned(with the addition of the '05/'06 ES-40v) all use LSI silicon, it makes sense the other models you mentioned(and I've been told the international models, including your ES-18) use Panasonic silicon.
IMO comparing VHS quality to DVD quality is kind of tricky. True the static picture quality of DVD(up to 4hrs(LP) on '05 and newer Panasonics) may be superior to VHS SP, once motion starts the differences become less. LP is not a good choice for VHS, just not enough bitrate on newer Panasonics and not enough resolution on older Panasonics, SP is best or maybe FR(on newer Panasonics) for those extra long SP tapes. VHS recorded in SP and with a good quality VCR actually had the possibility of quite good picture quality, not as much resolution as full D1 DVD but better bandwidth or ability to handle fast movement without artifacts.
Out of curiosity, what speed do you use for your conversions, SP or do you ever use FR for shorter or longer tapes? Due to compatibility with very old DVD players I never used XP much(too high of a bitrate for some older players) but FR for ~90 minutes probably wouldn't be a issue with pretty much any DVD player, of course using -R blanks again for best compatibility with the very old players.
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post #5 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 06:23 AM
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Out of curiosity, what speed do you use for your conversions, SP or do you ever use FR for shorter or longer tapes? Due to compatibility with very old DVD players I never used XP much(too high of a bitrate for some older players) but FR for ~90 minutes probably wouldn't be a issue with pretty much any DVD player, of course using -R blanks again for best compatibility with the very old players.
I never record on LP. I use FR almost exclusively, never setting it for less than about 1 hour 20 minutes, to avoid bitrate spikes. I never set it for more than about 2 hours 4 minutes. I use the 124 minute FR mode on many Hi8 and VHS tapes that are full, SP mode tapes. I am comfortable doing that, to give a customer 1 disc instead of two for the tapes that are juuuuust over 120 minutes. (I'll always remember the early days of DVD recorders that stopped at exactly 2 hours.... what to do with those extra few minutes... Glad those days are gone.

If tapes are on LP/SLP/EP whatever, and are several hours long, I give them multiple discs as needed, never more than 2 hours (give or take) per disc. I'll preview the tape to find good stopping points, to avoid breaking up a scene.

I have been using your trick of recording a few seconds on an EZ machine, then putting that disc in an ES machine, so the disc fills up more. Handy trick! Doesnt' work on +R discs, though.
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post #6 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 06:43 AM
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I never set it for more than about 2 hours 4 minutes. I use the 124 minute FR mode on many Hi8 and VHS tapes that are full, SP mode tapes.

If tapes are on LP/SLP/EP whatever, and are several hours long, I give them multiple discs as needed, never more than 2 hours (give or take) per disc. I'll preview the tape to find good stopping points, to avoid breaking up a scene.

I have been using your trick of recording a few seconds on an EZ machine, then putting that disc in an ES machine, so the disc fills up more. Handy trick! Doesnt' work on +R discs, though.
Yes 2hrs 4 minutes seems to be about the max for a T120 tape using SP, many of my VHS transfers were about 2hrs 4 minutes as I liked to fill my tapes to the end. Sounds like you don't get many tapes of the T130/T140 or even T160 variety? I had quite a few of those(all recorded in SP) and I felt most comfortable going up to the T-140s(about 2hrs 24 minutes). I did use just one discs for the T-160s(2hrs 44 minutes) but that was truly the max I'd feel comfortable with, anything more would require 2 DVD. For those extra long tapes(anything really over SP on DVD) I'd use one of my "prepped" DVDs, which as you know gives one ~350 extra MBs of disc space.
I really never use + discs, besides the fact that as you said they cannot gain the extra space on a Panasonic, Panasonic in general records to + discs in a rather odd format that reduces the maximum search speeds when played back in some DVD players, that and again some very old players will not play + or even RW discs.

BTW, nice website Sioux Falls isn't too far from me although the only time I really get by there is on my way to the Black Hills, that or occasionally we vacation in Blue Mound state park near Luverne. Good luck in your business, looks like you are a stickler for quality which is always nice to see. Nothing worse than doing a 1/2 ass job on something like tape/film transfers and then getting rid of the master I'm still hanging onto my tapes/films although I'm sure some day they will become landfill material.
http://www.fallsfilmvideo.com/

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post #7 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 07:06 AM
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Thanks for your kind words, jjeff.

I get up to MPLS a couple times a year, for concerts, or if my wife wants to do some shopping or if we just want a weekend getaway. I also have family in Norwood Young America and northwest of the cities.

If you're ever passing through and feel like saying "hi", please do so. Looks like you figured out where to find me.
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 08:26 AM
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Sounds like you don't get many tapes of the T130/T140 or even T160 variety?
I don't think I've ever seen a T140. I've only seen a few 130's over the years, and occasionally I get 160's. (Many PAL tapes I see are T-160's). I've probably seen a 180 or two.

Of course, anything over a T-120 would all be split onto 2 (or more) DVD's. I've toyed with the idea of using DL media, to fit these longer tapes onto one disc, but that seems like can of worms that I don't want to open.
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 11:29 AM
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I don't think I've ever seen a T140. I've only seen a few 130's over the years, and occasionally I get 160's. (Many PAL tapes I see are T-160's). I've probably seen a 180 or two.

Of course, anything over a T-120 would all be split onto 2 (or more) DVD's. I've toyed with the idea of using DL media, to fit these longer tapes onto one disc, but that seems like can of worms that I don't want to open.
T-130s were mainly sold in the retail version by BASF, they were kind of advertised as being a T-120(and T-120 pricing) with a bonus 30 minutes(of course 10 minutes for us SP people). They were in a bright yellow sleeve, the T-140s that I have(and I have quite a few) were all from a commercial house and were the maximum amount of T-120 thickness tape that could be put in a VHS shell, actually 142 is the absolute max. The PAL 160s are actually closer to a NTSC T-120 in length(I think it might yield you 130 minutes of NTSC SP). In PAL-land there standard speed was a bit slower than our SP so they got 160 minutes in their best speed. NTSC T-160s(up to a maximum of 182) were the thinner tape and once over 182 I believe it was even a thinner tape, up to I believe a maximum of T-210 but I'm not positive on that as T-182s were the longest tapes I used.
So do you also do PAL to NTSC conversions? I used a old(it was new at the time) Panasonic AG-W1 VCR to play my PAL tapes and it would output NSTC, I then recorded that NTSC output(with another NTSC VCR). Years later I had even better luck playing my PAL tapes in a PAL VCR, recording that signal to my international Panasonic EH-59 in PAL and burning a PAL DVD then playing that PAL DVD in my Pioneer DVD player that can play a PAL DVD and output as NTSC, finally recording that signal on a NTSC DVDR. Kind of a roundabout way but I actually preferred that quality to my original method of using the AG-W1 with another VCR. Of course if I had had a Panasonic DVDR back then(early 90s) I may have very well just used that to record the NTSC output of the AG-W1, as it was I only had VCRs back then for video recording.

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post #10 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 01:08 PM
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So do you also do PAL to NTSC conversions? I used a old(it was new at the time) Panasonic AG-W1 VCR to play my PAL tapes and it would output NSTC, I then recorded that NTSC output(with another NTSC VCR). Years later I had even better luck playing my PAL tapes in a PAL VCR, recording that signal to my international Panasonic EH-59 in PAL and burning a PAL DVD then playing that PAL DVD in my Pioneer DVD player that can play a PAL DVD and output as NTSC, finally recording that signal on a NTSC DVDR. Kind of a roundabout way but I actually preferred that quality to my original method of using the AG-W1 with another VCR. Of course if I had had a Panasonic DVDR back then(early 90s) I may have very well just used that to record the NTSC output of the AG-W1, as it was I only had VCRs back then for video recording.
I've used several units over the years. At the place I used to work at (before I started my own business) we had a Samsung unit - I don't recall the model #. It was an all-in-one unit; when it worked, it worked great. It suffered from a well-known snowy picture problem, however, and we had to get rid of it.

Then we got a Panasonic multisystem VCR + converter box from World Import. Decent setup, though the converter box would "glitch out" sometimes on poor sections of tape.

At my business, I have an older Aiwa HV-MX1, that I purchased from another video transfer guy that was getting out of the biz. I actually have yet to use it. I haven't seen any PAL tapes come in since I've been in business on my own (which has only been a few months, I was employed at another transfer place in town from Oct 2003 to April 2014).

The DVD recorders we used over the years were mainly Pioneer and Sony. We started in 2003 with a single Pioneer PRV-9000, and then got two more DVR-7000's, and IIRC, they were $2000 each! Then we got a couple Pioneer DVR220 (or maybe they were DVR-225, I don't remember now.)

Then, from about '06 until Sony stopped making them, we started hoarding Sony VRD-MC5's and MC6's, I think we ended up with about 18 of those, running all the time.

At my new business, I like my Pannys. I have a few stray units, (Sony RDR-GX257, VRD-MC6, Samsung VR357, and 3 Toshiba DR430's) simply because I found them for cheap and I like to have backup units of some kind.

Just last night, I bought another ES-25 on Ebay - a supposedly "very infrequently used" DMR-ES25. I think I will now start hoarding ES-15's and ES-25's. "They don't make 'em like that anymore..."
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post #11 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 01:39 PM
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My PAL VCRs are Aiwa and while I really wanted a MX1 I never bit the bullet and got one, I also saw the Samsung but read there were issues with it so I passed. I actually used a few Samsung VCRs in my VHS conversion project which seemed to track some tapes that others may not and tended to reduce jitter that effected my Panasonic VCRs. As I'm sure you know, no one VCR is best to play back all tapes, you need a collection of different ones to have the best possibility of playing back all tapes.
I almost picked up one of those beautiful $2k Pioneer 7000 DVDRs(for <$100 used AFAIR) but decided against it, mainly due to the media one can purchase now days, much too fast for what was recommended.
I agree the ES-15s and almost identical ES-25s are one of Panasonics best models and I have quite a few(maybe 6??) several purchased new in '06 for $99 although I've had 2 ES-15s die recently with the dreaded laser failure, I think the heat sink or laser may not be as good as older(pre '06) models and IMO they aren't really worth fixing. I'm not really using my realtime Panasonics as much lately, really only for very long recordings(2 1/2hr +) where I use one of my prepped DVDs, otherwise I mainly use my HDD Panasonics(EH-50, EH-55, EH-59) with the EH-50 being my favorite.

Re DL media: while it's true '06 and newer Panasonics support burning DL media I will NOT be using it anymore. For one it's quite expensive compared to SL media, more than several times the cost, another issue is -R DLs are all but impossible to find, well unless you want to spend >$5 each for good ones and when it comes to DL media for Panasonics I'd only suggest Verbatim. I've also read +R DLs recorded on our Panasonics will not play on select BD players, and of course the old DVD players that won't play +R discs will also not play +R DLs. Lastly 2 of my laser failures were when I was trying to record to +R DLs(and quality Verbatims at that) so I don't know if DLs take more laser power to burn or what but I will NOT be burning them anymore in my standalones. In PCs or DVD duplicators are fine but NOT in my standalones.

kind of expensive IMO but says it's basically new, in my back yard
http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/da...545598878.html

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post #12 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 02:17 PM
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As I'm sure you know, no one VCR is best to play back all tapes, you need a collection of different ones to have the best possibility of playing back all tapes.
Absolutely! I have mostly Sony, with a couple JVC's, and a certain GE model that I really like. I've got many backup Sonys, and a few Sanyo, RCA, and Samsung el cheapo models for backup backups!

One think I'm really picky on is being able to turn off OSD on VCR's. I can't stand when a player says "Play" or shows any other on-screen function, that could potentially get recorded to DVD. Tacky as hell. And I also prefer that my VCRs have full time display on the front of the unit. I can't stand using players where I can't see the to-the-second time that the tape is at.

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kind of expensive IMO but says it's basically new, in my back yard
http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/da...545598878.html
Oh man, I've seen that listing, and I want that so bad! I haven't attempted to e-mail them to see if they'd ship it, because they probably wouldn't. As much as I want it, I don't think I wanna drive to MPLS for it. I'd be willing to pay the $125, if I hadn't just bought a few other things for the business. Maybe in a week or two, if it's still on CL...
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Well, with apologies to the OP, I guess we've really derailed this thread.

jjeff, I've never even seen a Panny with a hard drive - what can you tell me about them?

For example, the EH-55 looks just like the ES15/25. Does the 55 have the filtering capabilities of the 15/25? Or are the similarities only on the outside?

Thanks.
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post #14 of 19 Old 08-01-2014, 02:37 PM
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One think I'm really picky on is being able to turn off OSD on VCR's. I can't stand when a player says "Play" or shows any other on-screen function, that could potentially get recorded to DVD. Tacky as hell. And I also prefer that my VCRs have full time display on the front of the unit. I can't stand using players where I can't see the to-the-second time that the tape is at....
Totally agree, the worst is when a VCR displays TRACKING on the screen while it's auto adjusting the tracking, actually I prefer VCRs that don't auto adjust, or at least don't constantly auto adjust when it thinks it needs to while playing the tape. Assuming the tape was all recorded on the same VCR the tracking shouldn't have to change once set, problem is if the individual recordings have a bit of snow between them many auto tracking VCRs will detect this and constantly readjust the tracking, displaying TRACKING while doing it
I'm also in complete agreement with your point about display, it needs to have a external display. What I liked to do was FF my tapes to the end of the material, zero out the counter and finally rewind the tape. Then the external display, which I could easily see, would tell me exactly how long was left for my dub and don't get me started on VCRs that automatically start to PLAY when a tape(with record tab removed) was inserted If I wanted to start playing the tape I'd push PLAY
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Well, with apologies to the OP, I guess we've really derailed this thread.

jjeff, I've never even seen a Panny with a hard drive - what can you tell me about them?

For example, the EH-55 looks just like the ES15/25. Does the 55 have the filtering capabilities of the 15/25? Or are the similarities only on the outside?

Thanks.
Yes, us bad
The ES-15/25s HDD cousin is the EH-55, it has all the features of the ES-15/25 and more. The nice thing about a HDD recorder is it's ability to easily trim out material you don't want, after that you HS copy it to DVD. With realtime burning any mistake is permanently on the DVD.
The EH-50 is very similar to the ES-10, again with the exception of the very handy HDD. Once you start using a HDD it is hard to go back to a HDD less model, although for quick simple VHS dubs a non HDD model may be quicker. You'd save the 15 or so minutes it would take to HS copy from the HDD to DVD. For my extensive VHS to DVD project I used HDD less models almost exclusively although I had thousands of tapes to convert and didn't really need to edit any of them.
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post #16 of 19 Old 08-02-2014, 12:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, with apologies to the OP, I guess we've really derailed this thread.

jjeff, I've never even seen a Panny with a hard drive - what can you tell me about them?

For example, the EH-55 looks just like the ES15/25. Does the 55 have the filtering capabilities of the 15/25? Or are the similarities only on the outside?

Thanks.
No problem, I enjoy all the comments.

My goal is to transfer tapes to DVD and/or the PC's HDD in order to clear some shelf space. I might do a little editing depending what I find on the tapes. I'm not sure if it's worth burning DVDs since they don't last forever & it appears some folks make duplicate copies every 5 or 10 ten years in order to insure they don't lose the contents. I realize a HDD won't last forever either, but it's easier to periodically make a copy of one HDD than a hundred DVDs.

I'll use my Panny EZ17 (with DVD-RAM) as advised since I don't have any exotic equipment such as a TBC. The few VHS tapes I've copied to DVD look good when using the Panny's 2 hr SP mode. While I haven't tried a faster speed when copying, I'm surprised that FR or 1 hr mode would be better considering the relatively low resolution of VHS. I'll try a faster speed, especially since I also have some S-VHS tapes. And then transfer to a PC's HDD for possible editing and/or burning to DVD.

As I think about it, I seem to recall reading a long time ago that copying VHS to DVD may end up using a high bitrate because of all the video noise on the tape. Could that mean that restricting the recording bitrate would prevent the noise from being recorded? I realize you may lose some picture sharpness, but is the trade off worth it? OTOH I could use the Panny's noise reduction option.

Of course when all is said & done I'll probably never watch the DVDs anyway. But at least I'll have cleared off some shelf space.
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post #17 of 19 Old 08-02-2014, 05:58 AM
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As I think about it, I seem to recall reading a long time ago that copying VHS to DVD may end up using a high bitrate because of all the video noise on the tape. Could that mean that restricting the recording bitrate would prevent the noise from being recorded? I realize you may lose some picture sharpness, but is the trade off worth it? OTOH I could use the Panny's noise reduction option.

Of course when all is said & done I'll probably never watch the DVDs anyway. But at least I'll have cleared off some shelf space.
Unfortunatly the encoder doesn't really know the difference between noise and what you really want to record so restricting the bitrate would effect both noise and the picture you want to save. Resolution isn't really the issue(newer Panasonics retain full resolution all the way through LP or 4hrs/DVD) but by cramming more on a disc you reduce bitrate which increases macroblocking or when the picture breaks up into smaller squares and is very noticable in areas of fast movement(strobes, running water, etc.). That said SP or slightly better(maybe down to FR1.5) is probably your best bet, when you get down to XP you run into the possibility of issues with certain older DVD players that can't handle the fast bitrate. Not sure about FFVT but I always leave the NR filter ON, never turn it off. I don't really notice a big difference with it on and figure if it can help filter out a bit of noise, all the better, it will leave more bits for recording what I want and maybe not the noise??
All my VHS and new material is now on DVD, I've tinkered with the idea of converting it all to HDDs, believe it or not I figure I could fit my entire collection of 1000s of DVD on a handful of 4TB USB HDDs(less than 6). Of course it would cost some money not to mention the T-I-M-E- required and even at ~10 minutes/DVD were talking months and months of work One thing I do worry about only using HDDs is if I do lose a HDD(fails) I will have lost 100s and 100s of DVDs worth of material.....Been burning DVDs since mid 00s and AFAIK I've only experienced a handful of DVD failures, mostly kids DVDs damaged by my kids careless handling and storing.

In regards to your last point, shhhh, of all the VHS tapes I converted to DVD I'd be lucky if I've watched 10% of them yet, not to mention of all my VHS tapes I would have been lucky to have watched 25% of those.....ahhh the life of a archiver

Last edited by jjeff; 08-02-2014 at 06:07 AM.
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post #18 of 19 Old 08-02-2014, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
In regards to your last point, shhhh, of all the VHS tapes I converted to DVD I'd be lucky if I've watched 10% of them yet, not to mention of all my VHS tapes I would have been lucky to have watched 25% of those.....ahhh the life of a archiver
I used to record & save some TV programs & movies, but I rarely watched them. We seldom watch the same movie twice so now I hardly ever record something to keep. But I still save a few recordings to DVD-R and buy a DVD or Blu-ray every so often. Over the years my shelves have become crowded & getting rid of the VHS tapes would free up some space. I would just store the tapes in the basement just in case...
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I looked at a couple videos that I copied from a Panny made DVD-RAM using the 2 hr SP mode over to the PC. The Overall Bitrates were about 4800 Kpbs & the Video Bitrates were about 4500 Kbps.

According to Wikipedia,
"DVD-Video discs have a raw bitrate of 11.08 Mbit/s, with a 1.0 Mbit/s overhead, leaving a payload bitrate of 10.08 Mbit/s. Of this, up to 3.36 Mbit/s can be used for subtitles, a maximum of 10.08 Mbit/s can be split amongst audio and video, and a maximum of 9.80 Mbit/s can be used for video alone.

Professionally encoded videos average a bitrate of 4-5 Mbit/s with a maximum of 7–8 Mbit/s in high-action scenes."

I'll try using XP and FR 90 minute modes & see what bitrates these create.
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