Answer Best answer as chosen by user Jak T Rip
One Box Answer
I did this recently with around 80 VHS tapes, real pain no matter how you do it. For me it was best to capture to the PC so I am not using the answer I am going to give. However I looked at this long an hard and I own a Panasonic DMR-H55 HDD/DVD video recorder and actually had the same issue, wanted to get what was on the proprietary hard disk to a common format, I went with .wtv (Windows TV format, since my HTPC is cenered around it.
What I can say is there is no one box answer, that is a sure thing unless it came out in the last few days and I missed it. So you known, none of the VHS/HDD/DVD Player/Recorders have files in any usable format except to the unit itself, when my first DVD recorder failed I tried to hook the HDD to my computer and get the files, no such luck.
So just scrub the all-in-one's if you need files you can use/play and or edit on the PC and are not stuck on that box.
Since you don't want your PC tied up for the weeks or months this will take you, I would go with a HD DVR with a compisite input, there are a ton of them, I use Hauppauge, but any of them with composite input will work.
This will still be pretty simple, just toss in a tape and hit record on the DVR and play on the VCR and that is it, once the tape is done you'll have it on hard disk and in a common format. Most DVR's of the type I am talking about are extenable, you can add all the disk you want and/or keep swapping in new disks as you fill them.
To keep the file sizes manageble, and given that these are SD VHS, you miight want to go with a low bit rate recording, I find SD clocking in at about 5Mbps on average so set your recrd bit rate accordingly, if you store at higher pit rates you will really start to eat up disk, for example, in wtv format a 2 hour show in SD takes 6GB of disk, in HD that might hit 18GB. So copied at the same quality for 100 2 hour movies you'll need about 600GB but I would just go with a 2TB drive.
The trick for fast and easy use on the DVR is just set the defaults to optimize for this operation and then you'll only need to name stuff, all the other settings will be set.
The advantage of getting them on a DVR is that it meets 90% of your criteria, the solution takes your VCR plus one box, there is no one box solution:
- Will allow essentially 2 button operatrion, press record on the DVR and Play on the VHS
- Recorded shows can be directly played back on your TV and/or PC
- Standard file formats are used MPEG4/WTV/H.264 and the list goes on. (Deciding on the format is not a critical as it once was with all of the format converters out there today but I would start out with the format you are most likely to use the most, convsersions can take a very long time, so once you get this stuff you want it in a format you can use without another step.
- All files will be accessable to your PC as well as the TV, so at your leasure you can mess with the video if you want to. (I used VideoReDo to remove commercials)
- The DVR can be used for many other recording situations, like recording more TV from live TV
- The DVR goes into the future with you, if you get an HD model then once this project is done you can keep using it for newer material.
I huneted low and high for answers to this and I think a DVR plus your VCR is as close as you will get, also note that the DVR's are stand-alone, no need for a computer in the mix at all and no need for what you want to mess with the networking side of the box.
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