I'm still astonished at the quality a DVR can produce when recording from Off the Air through a converter, or especially when capturing a VHS signal and producing a video file.
Yes it is 2019 and many people have moved on, but a few people (a few like you say) are looking for a simple and easy way to convert a bunch of VHS tapes to files. - I am one.
When I looked at the options, most pointed in the direction of a USB dongle.. cheap, semi-hard to find a good one, and terrible logistics.. of coordinating the time and space to get a VCR and PC together and working (long enough) to get the job done.. plus I'd need a TBC in most cases.
The DVR turned that on its ear.. simple, records for hours (days) even uninterrupted and produces beautiful full bandwidth MPEG2 files with perfect sound.. no Lip sync problems... nothing like with USB dongles.. or capture cards plus audio cards and TBC with proc-amp plus detailer.. all kinds of things I knew very little about.
The major problem was with DVRs you had DVD media restrictions on resolution and length of program. And you had to wait for the media to burn.. and then it might fail.. the drive might fail.. or the recorder might fail after recording lots of hours of video. And if you used it for editing.. it might corrupt the drive and you loose any video already recorded also.
Extracting the video from the drive direct eliminated all of those downsides, provided a backup plan in case the burner, hard drive or recorder failed, or corrupted.. and transfers at top speed faster than it would take to burn a DVD.
So its 2019.. and I'm still excited.
I think based on a few conversations.. in the US it might be a small issue, but in Canada and Europe.. there seems to be as much or more interest. And its still only a couple months this has been possible. The Official release of the feature is only a few days old, less than a week.. so there is still time before I'd call it wasted effort.
Comparing an mpeg4 vs mpeg2 (yes I know the terms are being misused) the quality is light years different. Those boxes that record in hyper-compressed low color resolution are very different in quality. And many DVRs have a signal clean up section not unlike a full frame TBC, so they are very tolerant of awful signal. Bonus for PAL users is these DVRs often work in NTSC or PAL modes.. so an avalanche of features from a DVR that most people 'think' worthless, that they don't want.. and sells for a song. Digital is Digital.. from 2004 or 2019 being able to offload at the highest speed/resolution and as a recording that ran for hours, even days is not something I think you can get from any recorder currently on the market.
As an archival tool, or archeologists tool.. recorder hard drives can now been opened up like Tombs of information from years past.
I'm fascinated by USB dongles, capture cards and lots of other methods of converting.. but hands down.. the DVRs of yesterday.. still available from auction sites, garage sales and grandmas garage.. are incredible machines.. even if TV Guide doesn't work anymore.
1 time ? hmm.. it is much, much more than a tool for this one task. Its a general purpose file and data recovery tool for any hard drive. It works with nearly a hundred different file systems. And one purchase can be used over and over again across many different DVR makes and models.
Its not a limited "one time use" program. It stays on your PC and and can work with not only hard drives, but compact flash, usb flash drives, sd cards.. anything that that looks like storage to your PC. That's a bit technical for most people.
But if a family has two or three DVRs scattered across several residences. Or a School, Police station or Fire department has a collection of DVRs used for training or video monitoring.. one license can be used to recover video from all of those DVRs. So on a personal level and a group level its got long term uses.
Personally if I invested in a DVR to start with.. they cost about $500 to $1000 in the beginning. A $40 license for a bit of software that is not going to expire or stop working years down the road doesn't seem like a lot of money to me.
The value proposition for buying a $50 DVR from a garage sale and then $40 for software gets a bit more suspect.. if I have never seen it work.. but that's a bit of an extreme case.
Most DVRs I've seen up for sale on line are running $100+ and Magnavoxes with ATSC tuners are running $300 to $500
I could dwell on missing out on the hey day when they could be bought new.. but that's my luck.. I missed out on a new recorder. But the used ones seem to work really well to me, even if their DVD burner is dead.. which drives down the resale price and work perfectly fine for me since I can copy the recordings to a PC.
The extra nice thing is the software supports more than one brand or model of recorder.. so I can go shopping for used DVRs from many different brands or models.. I don't have to hunt for that one specific DVR and turn aside all others.