Originally Posted by jjeff
I'm thinking a PC may be the OPs best choice, they probably have tons of choices for thumbnails and I'd think they might have the auto-chapter options and if so it probably works better than something a DVDR may offer.
It can be a tough decision, largely determined by the number of tapes involved, your $ budget, how much time you can realistically devote to the task, and how comfortable you are (or can get) with the various PC utilities required for each part of the process. In some ways, digital video/HDTV is spinning our world backwards ala the ending of "Superman"- instead of ever-better and ever-easier-to-use consumer video recorders and PC options, things have gotten progressively worse
over the past decade. Standalone recorders have all but dried up, and the selection of PC capture accessories has devolved into "cheap and nasty" vs "over-priced, over-fussy, over-complicated" with little middle ground for making VHS dubs (the story is somewhat better when it comes to recording new TV material, but for VHS,.. ugh).
The utility curve for DVD/HDD recorder vs PC capture is somewhat peculiar. I think the PC lends itself more to the extremes: great if you have just a handful of tapes, or great if you have hundreds. But DVD/HDD recorders seem to be optimal for midrange projects involving 50-300 tapes. For just a few tapes, you can wing it on the PC with a decent cheap capture device and passably good free utilities. For a huge collection, you can justify spending the money (and learning curve) for a really good capture device and top-notch paid video software.
But if you're in the middle? The cheap PC options are sucky, while the expensive ones are overkill/poor value relative to a good DVD/HDD recorder. The PC often requires additional hardware for VHS dubbing (TBCs, fancy discontinued VCRs, etc) that the standalone recorder doesn't, so here again one wants to carefully evaluate the cost vs number of tapes. The wildcard in all this, as jjeff noted, is the wider range of options you can get via PC software: it is far more flexible and feature-laden than any currently-available DVD/HDD unit.
The PC will let you create amazingly detailed and precise menu navigation for the DVDs, or let you forget making DVDs altogether in favor of digital video files that can be much more space-efficient and usable across multiple devices (tablets, phones, laptops, media players, BluRay players). The standalone recorder is a simplified dedicated unit designed for one task only: quickly and easily create standard DVDs with basic menus and navigation.
If considering the PC route, look into an inexpoensive second-hand "ATI TV Wonder HD 600 USB" on eBay, and download the Windows Vista driver package for it. It was widely considered one of the best USB video dongles for capturing VHS signals, unfortunately it was discontinued in 2010 and support drops off after Windows Vista (although the Vista drivers reportedly work with Win 7 and perhaps Win 8). Once you see how this suits your tapes, you can either move forward with upgraded software choices or resell the ATI and opt for a new Magnavox MDR533 or Panasonic EH59.