Creating a VHS to DVD system

By Goalie
Dec 28, 2004
  1. Hey guys,

    My father is trying to come up with a new system, and is asking advice that I'm relatively unqualified to answer. I'm sure ya'll got better advice than I do.

    He has literally hundreds of old VHS tapes that he wants to convert to DVD. There are standalone systems to do this, we realize, but they mostly miss one feature: The ability to edit the videos before burning to DVD.

    The capture should be of the highest quality possible from a PAL stream, as the quality of the VHS is already crappy, we don't need to make it worse.

    On top of this, he would like a machine he can use for other standard computing purposes- web browsing, AOL (Save your lecture, I've tried to convert him), MS Office (see above), sound ripping/conversion.

    The machine doesn't need to be dual p4 extremes. Ideally, we spend under $2000 for doing this, if not more reliably. He's not a techie at all, so systems should assemble stable.

    Here's the basic list of what he wants to do.

    1. Capture streams from VHS (or TV or yadda yadda)
    2. Edit them. Particularly remove commercials.
    3. Burn them to DVD. The program(s) for doing 1,2, and/or 3 should all be relatively simple. He's no sys admin. He's not a total *****, can learn some things.
    4. Office, web browsing etc.
    5. Sound capture from vinyl to wav (or mp3). He's got the program to do it, we can reinstall that.
    6. Any/all software used should be as legit as possible.
    7. If the machine comes with a monitor, should be CRT. His eyes aren't great, he has particular difficulty with LCD/Plasma displays.
    8. Hardware modem. I think we've all seen enough in the networking forum to know why win cards are not good. We're currently on dialup, if/when necessary I have the knowledge to install a network card and so forth.
    9. The display on the machine will be 800x600 or lower. Hopefully the video editing can accomodate this, if not I'm sure we can find some way to make it work.
    10. Everything else is pretty standard. Assuming it's a WinOS, we'll be able to port his apps and so forth.

    For our purposes, it's appearing cheaper to buy a gateway/dell/something prefab. Either this system already comes with the video capability, or we can add it on within the price constraints. This has a few "features" to it that we like- if we get a bundled CRT monitor, printer, great. We have uses for those, but aren't hard up. Also gives him some tech support if/when I move out and he needs help. It gives him relatively cheap, legit copies of XP (Home or pro, we don't care, I prefer pro but I'll compromise), and Office (All he uses is word or Excel, if it's something more than basic we don't care.)

    I don't know what sort of CPU/RAM is needed for video editing. It's my understanding that usually the vid capture device does hardware conversion, so the Video card shouldn't impact things. If that's true we don't need top of the line card. If it's not true, the lowest possible card to maintain quality is in order- the most advanced graphics my father uses is Civilization Call to Power. ;) For everything else, I assume 1.5GHz and 512mb ram is sufficient. I'd say 160+GB HD would be recommeneded, plus we'll move his old HD in for additional space and ported documents. Sound wise we need input and output. Ideally two outputs with independent volume control. Quality is good here, but we don't need top of the line Audigy cards- I think a SB Live with mini or RCA outputs is best. We don't have optical or hi def lines. The turntable is ancient, and the vcr.. well.. enough said.

    Right now he has a 1ghz 512MB Win98SE machine. Is there a possibility of converting this machine for use? That's another question in the same vein.

    Either way we probably want to move him up to XP/Office 2k or better. Based on reviews, we're shying away from XP MCE. There seems to be some quality issues when streams are placed into ASFs (MS's fancy drm'ed mpg2 wrapper). However, if you have experience with the OS and it's fine, let us know that too.

    Look forward to reading your input. Details, links, and the whole 9 yards appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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