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  1. Member
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    hey guys, my neighbor Jack has some old VHS tapes and wishes to transfer them to CD/dvd. He has a win7 dell laptop. Can you guys advise on exactly what he will need to get both hardware and software to do this please?
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  2. The simplest route from VHS to DVD would be a standalone DVD recorder - no computer necessary. If you'd be happy with just direct transfers, it's probably the least painful option.
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    This recent thread covers the main options: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/393961-Want-to-convert-VHS-to-DVD-R-what-hardware-is-necessary

    Easy, relatively cheap ($20-$30/tape) and low to moderate quality - Have the tapes professionally transferred

    Easy, moderately cheap ($250 - $400), moderate quality - Buy a DVD recorder

    Not so easy, moderately cheap ($200 - $300), low to moderate quality - Buy a cheap VCR ~$150-$200 and a good capture device - ~$50

    Hard, expensive ($750-$1000+), potentially very high quality - Buy a setup described in the link to digitalfaq.com


    This is the most recent thread. Topic has been discussed and debated in hundreds of other threads before.
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    Originally Posted by Mr Chris View Post
    The simplest route from VHS to DVD would be a standalone DVD recorder - no computer necessary. If you'd be happy with just direct transfers, it's probably the least painful option.
    That's exactly what I had mentioned to Jack but he seems intent on going the hard way.
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    Originally Posted by mikehende View Post
    Originally Posted by Mr Chris View Post
    The simplest route from VHS to DVD would be a standalone DVD recorder - no computer necessary. If you'd be happy with just direct transfers, it's probably the least painful option.
    That's exactly what I had mentioned to Jack but he seems intent on going the hard way.
    Not being facetious. I'd tell jack to visit and search this site and digitalfaq.com for answers as he seems he'll likely to disregard anything you tell him.
    Last edited by lingyi; 12th Aug 2019 at 16:22. Reason: Clarity
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    Caveat with what has already been mentioned: Remember, it's VHS, so "VERY HIGH QUALITY" is relative to that format.

    Scott
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    Originally Posted by Cornucopia View Post
    Caveat with what has already been mentioned: Remember, it's VHS, so "VERY HIGH QUALITY" is relative to that format.

    Scott
    LOL! So true. TY!

    Whenever getting the "Best possible quality!" out of VHS is mentioned, I always think about the guy with his "restoration studio" and his twelve secret audio/video tweaks that no one but he and whomever pays for a $500 per tape session with him will ever know.
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  8. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Not so easy, moderately cheap ($200 - $300), low to moderate quality - Buy a cheap VCR ~$150-$200 and a good capture device - ~$50
    Hard, expensive ($750-$1000+), potentially very high quality - Buy a setup described in the link to digitalfaq.com
    I'd argue that cheap hardware is harder than good hardware. More problems.
    You save $$$, but spent that in spades in time-consuming problems.
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    Jack said he wants to save the VHS videos on his hdd and whenever he needs to he can burn to dvd.

    I have looked at the two thread referred to above but doing some research I am seeing this products as the simplest solution, what do you guys thunk please?

    https://www.roxio.com/en/products/easy-vhs-to-dvd/standard/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw4s7qBRCzARIs...8aAqOUEALw_wcB
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    OMG! Roxio. LOL, another newbie sucker.
    It's all over, fellas. Looks like they want the usual crappy VHS work.
    If Jack wants better results, he'll forget junkware like Roxio and research digitalfaq's guides as suggested. Yep, it's harder to do it right.
    Otherwise, it's same-o same-o.
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    Jack is a 70 year old man who is not all that tech savvy so he's seeking a simple way.
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    Take a big step back and start from the beginning.

    Is Jack doing this alone or are you helping at least on the computer side.

    What type of computer does Jack have? PC or Mac. Specs on the computer?

    What is Jack's budget based on the prices I gave?

    How many tapes does Jack have? Are they all home videos or pre-recorded?

    What formats are the tapes? VHS, Beta, 8mm?

    Does he already have a VCR(s)? If so, what brand/model?

    What are his expectations? He's already rejected a DVD recorder, which seems to mean he expects better quality = $$$ + time learning the process and software.

    Does he want to edit the videos? If so, it will take time to learn the software necessary.

    Why does he want the end product on DVD? Ease of use? Distribution to family/friends? if it's for archival purposes, the best option is to capture in a lossless format and save that for future editing, processing.


    Answer these questions and explain to Jack that a good capture method starts with the hardware. Minimal = VCR(s) + capture device with a Time Base Corrector (TBC) highly recommended. Unless he's willing and able to spend the money and time for potentially better quality than a DVD recorder can provide, he's best going the recorder route.

    Edit: Stop and don't go any further with any hardware or software purchases as good hardware at a cheap price is long gone and there are many free or low cost software options that do better the one you listed.

    Edit 2: Research on your own is generally a good thing, but stay here and you'll get strong, tried and true recommendations from members who have been doing video capture (some professionally) for a long time. Your asking about Roxio as a possible software solution shows that you're headed into potentially dangerous territory with software that promises far more than they deliver.
    Last edited by lingyi; 14th Aug 2019 at 15:07.
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  13. @lingyi
    Easy, relatively cheap ($20-$30/tape) and low to moderate quality - Have the tapes professionally transferred
    Easy, moderately cheap ($250 - $400), moderate quality - Buy a DVD recorder
    Not so easy, moderately cheap ($200 - $300), low to moderate quality - Buy a cheap VCR ~$150-$200 and a good capture device - ~$50
    Hard, expensive ($750-$1000+), potentially very high quality - Buy a setup described in the link to digitalfaq.com
    So you consider that having the tapes transferred by a professional in that field (or frame) typically yields an average result at best, on par with what can be obtained by a newbie with a simple DVD recorder, and possibly worse ?
    Also, $150-$200 is not exactly cheap for a VCR (considering that nowadays buying a second-hand unit is mandatory to get something halfway decent, and that a basic non-SVHS unit can be found for a 2-digit price, at least in Europe).

    Take a big step back and start from the beginning.
    Is Jack...
    What type...
    What is...
    How many...
    What formats...
    Does he...
    What are...
    Does he...
    Why does...
    And perhaps more importantly : how much time does he have to actually watch the damn digitized tapes ?
    As I wrote on HDDGuru a few months ago :
    “There's a brilliant little novel called L'ironie du sort by the almost forgotten french writer Paul Guimard, where near the end the main character opens a book of pictures and tells the story of the entire family tree of his future wife over a century by describing about a dozen of pictures – that's about all there was then and each one meant a world. Now we're flooded by countless pictures devoid of meaning beyond the split second they were taken, that for the most part noone will care to look at in the future, and yet people are somehow relieved that they have them stored somewhere, as if they felt that any event not thoroughly documented and stored as digital files did not actually happen, and therefore they didn't actually exist.”
    Or this from here :
    “In my case, the original VCR is a Portland VH 6197S – a 4 heads Nicam model but from a presumably lousy brand, purchased on sale at half its retail price in 1999. I still have it but haven't tried using it in the past 5 years or so, so I don't know if it's still good to go. I also purchased – at least 5 years ago, probably closer to 10 – a Panasonic FS100H, 80€ on eBay, without the remote. (...) I did some tests, but not thorough enough to be able to say anything conclusive – and after all those years, those tapes may have further degraded, to the point where I'm wondering if it's even worth the trouble. Most of those tapes contain TV footage recorded between 1999 and 2002 (generally on 4 hours tapes, which means that in LP mode each of them contains a whopping 8 hours of footage), most of which can not be found anywhere (for public access at least). But nowadays, I record each year such an insane amount of stuff that I couldn't possibly catch up and watch even the best 10% of it, unless someone designs a kind of Dragon Ball Time Room, or unless it's the end of the world and I have Time Enough At Last... There always seems to be something more interesting to do – like reading forum threads on the best possible methods to digitize those old and mostly obsolete recordings, which, if I ever get it done finally, I may not even have the time and desire to actually watch anyway !”

    Distribution to family/friends?
    Noone cares — too much s##t to do these days, too little attention for anything older than an hour ago.

    if it's for archival purposes
    People tomorrow will care even less.

    (Damn, I'm in a good mood tonight... é_è I could use a hug, but I'm only surrounded by bugs. That sugs.)

    @mikehende
    That's exactly what I had mentioned to Jack but he seems intent on going the hard way.
    At the risk of coming across as a bit harsh, you could tell him : “Frankly Jack, you don't know Jack.”
    (I'm out already, far, far away you can't catch me ! )
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    Ah, it's the old who-gives-a-crap routine. The old I-don't-give-a-crap, so-why-should-you.
    This arises from an internal cause that boils down to this: I don't know crap, which is why I don't care, and you should do the same.
    Maybe Jack feels differently, dude. Maybe his standards aren't as low as yours and maybe he's not as lazy as you.



    Say, how many times are we going to have to repeat this bizarre rigmarole? Browse the forum for the past 20 years. It's all been done, many many many many many many many many many many times. And more.
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    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    Say, how many times are we going to have to repeat this bizarre rigmarole? Browse the forum for the past 20 years. It's all been done, many many many many many many many many many many times. And more.
    I post because as demonstrated by the OP's last post, people get lead astray. I don't know when or where someone posted that the Roxio software is a good idea, but somehow the OP gleaned that it's a good solution.

    I'm just as tired of this subject as anyone, but if I and the others who are much more knowledgeable that me didn't post on these threads, all that would be left are posters who think their mediocre methods ("I use a $10 EZCap and a free VCR and it works great!") are the best and spammers touting their software.
    Last edited by lingyi; 14th Aug 2019 at 21:01.
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    Originally Posted by mikehende View Post
    Jack is a 70 year old man who is not all that tech savvy so he's seeking a simple way.
    That Roxio device is low quality. Not just visual quality, but overall usage will be horrible. In general, wobbly video, audio sync, flashing, color issues, excessive brightness, etc. It will be video hell. If he doesn't hate computers now, he will from using that ghastly device.

    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    but if I and the others who are much more knowledgeable that me didn't post on these threads, all that would be left are posters who think their mediocre methods ("I use a $10 EZCap and a free VCR and it works great!") are the best and spammers touting their software.
    Noting that Roxio is a rebadged Easycap.

    Originally Posted by LMotlow View Post
    Ah, it's the old who-gives-a-crap routine.
    This does get old.
    If it doesn't matter ... then why convert at all? Hmm?
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Take a big step back and start from the beginning.

    Is Jack doing this alone or are you helping at least on the computer side.

    What type of computer does Jack have? PC or Mac. Specs on the computer?

    What is Jack's budget based on the prices I gave?

    How many tapes does Jack have? Are they all home videos or pre-recorded?

    What formats are the tapes? VHS, Beta, 8mm?

    Does he already have a VCR(s)? If so, what brand/model?

    What are his expectations? He's already rejected a DVD recorder, which seems to mean he expects better quality = $$$ + time learning the process and software.

    Does he want to edit the videos? If so, it will take time to learn the software necessary.

    Why does he want the end product on DVD? Ease of use? Distribution to family/friends? if it's for archival purposes, the best option is to capture in a lossless format and save that for future editing, processing.


    Answer these questions and explain to Jack that a good capture method starts with the hardware. Minimal = VCR(s) + capture device with a Time Base Corrector (TBC) highly recommended. Unless he's willing and able to spend the money and time for potentially better quality than a DVD recorder can provide, he's best going the recorder route.

    Edit: Stop and don't go any further with any hardware or software purchases as good hardware at a cheap price is long gone and there are many free or low cost software options that do better the one you listed.

    Edit 2: Research on your own is generally a good thing, but stay here and you'll get strong, tried and true recommendations from members who have been doing video capture (some professionally) for a long time. Your asking about Roxio as a possible software solution shows that you're headed into potentially dangerous territory with software that promises far more than they deliver.
    I guess he will depend on me having to help on the computer side.

    He has old Dell Intel duo core laptop with 4gb ram so no firepower to begin with.

    He wants to go with the cheapest option

    He has like 50 tapes from Home videos.

    they are VHS

    Magnavox vcr

    His expectations are to transfer the tapes to a hard drive exactly as they are without any editing just to preserve them and to burn any to dvd should he ever need to.
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  18. Ah, it's the old who-gives-a-crap routine. The old I-don't-give-a-crap, so-why-should-you.
    This arises from an internal cause that boils down to this: I don't know crap, which is why I don't care, and you should do the same.
    Maybe Jack feels differently, dude. Maybe his standards aren't as low as yours and maybe he's not as lazy as you.
    Say, how many times are we going to have to repeat this bizarre rigmarole? Browse the forum for the past 20 years. It's all been done, many many many many many many many many many many times. And more.
    Hum, well, sorry, if this is directed at me — I was in a really bad mood, still am, too lonely probably, and my poor lady cat who's been fighting cancer for more than three years is not getting better.
    Otherwise, those were general remarks regarding the general state of mind of people nowadays, they were not based on my own feelings and propensions. You can't deny that this is largely true. Recently I tried to show a video I made a few years ago, featuring my deceased grandmother, to two aunts (one in her 70s, one in her 80s) who were sisters of my also deceased grandfather (parents of my mother, who was also there that day), and knew her very well (at least until her and their brother were divorced) ; but even at their age they were bored after about 10 minutes (they only commented that they had never seen their sister-in-law “white”) — they wanted to see the pictures I had taken the day before when they invited neighbours for a random saturday lunch with a quite tasteless atmosphere if you ask me...
    Also, if I didn't complete (or actually begin) the task of digitizing my own tapes, it's rather (in part) because I do care about quality enough to have read an insane amount of articles and discussions on that subject, to the point of getting overwhelmed with (often contradictory) information, while I had very little opportunity to get first-hand experience with the various equipments and methods that were talked about at length.
    Very recently I tried to provide specific replies to the best of my knowledge to someone having similar requests (but who had already done a lot of research on his own, making his endeavour seem perhaps more realistic), so I'm not gung-ho about putting down anyone willing to spend (hundreds of) hours on a particular video conversion task, I just meant to put this into perspective (admittedly a bit too harshly) : if it has to be done, it has to make sense for someone. In this case, with about 50 full-length tapes, and operating at a very low knowledge level considering how complex it all is, it may be wiser to select a few of the most important ones and have it done by a professional restorer, rather than spending more time on the conversion task itself than on the potential enjoyment of watching the converted footage. But that's just my opinion, and on many subjects it can change radically from one day to the next, or even in a matter of minutes sometimes...
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    Originally Posted by mikehende View Post
    He has old Dell Intel duo core laptop with 4gb ram so no firepower to begin with.
    Capture isn't about horsepower, it's about compatibility and stability. A Core Duo with 2gb+ of RAM is great. Main issue is HDD space, transfer (USB3/eSATA), and making the system lean for capture (disabling AV, network, etc).

    He wants to go with the cheapest option
    I cannot reiterate enough how much a quagmire that will be. He doesn't know what he doesn't know (and same for yourself).
    It really is akin to finding the cheapest way to cut the lawn -- and being given a pair of scissors. It'll work, maybe, but you're more likely to throw it from frustration than ever accomplish the task.

    He has like 50 tapes from Home videos.
    they are VHS
    Magnavox vcr
    His expectations are to transfer the tapes to a hard drive exactly as they are without any editing just to preserve them and to burn any to dvd should he ever need to.
    His expectations are not realistic. If he's thinking he can plug that VCR into a Roxio device, and get a result that doesn't make him want to throw the laptop again the wall, he's sadly mistaken.
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    To be fair, not everyone has the critical eyes and high standards of many of the regulars here. For some, just having something in a digital format is enough.

    I have some mediocre transfers of movies that I did on my DVD recorder years ago and remain in collection because they're a part of one my favorite actresses collection. These movies have never been released on DVD and will likely never be (one is an odd Hong Kong recut of a Taiwanese release), because the actress was blackballed in the early '90's because of a scandalous affair with a married man.

    When I moved and had to downsize several years ago, I tossed all the hardware and unless I hit the lottery, will never redo the transfers (one movie that I have on VHS, is a $300 LD. It took years of waiting to find the VHS copy for less than $90.

    That said, the cheapest, both in cash and time option for Jack is probably a DVD recorder. He could use it, then resell it to recoup some of the cost. It won't pass the critical eye test. But will at least be something that otherwise wouldn't exist in a digital format.
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    That said, the cheapest, both in cash and time option for Jack is probably a DVD recorder. He could use it, then resell it to recoup some of the cost. It won't pass the critical eye test. But will at least be something that otherwise wouldn't exist in a digital format.
    JVC SR combo S-VHS VCR with line TBC + LSI based DVD recorder is best option, under $500.
    How much under $500 depends on how good of a condition it's in.

    When done, resell it.

    That's easy + quality. Even I use that method for personal hobby tapes.
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    I gave Jack the advice stated here which is what I recommended to him time and time again but he is dead set on getting the cheapest capture device to do the transfer so nothing more for us to discuss really, I will report back how this goes with him but again, appreciate all of the help/advice from you guys.
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    You're a good friend to ask and try to help out. Wish you both luck with your endeavor.

    A parting word of advice if you should come back to ask further questions about this, more info and details will get you quicker and better advice.
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    Got it, will do, thx.
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  25. @mikehende
    I gave Jack the advice stated here which is what I recommended to him time and time again but he is dead set on getting the cheapest capture device to do the transfer [...]
    As for good and cheap capture devices, the most recommended at DigitalFAQ are ATI All-In-Wonder graphic cards (but those require a whole compatible desktop computer with circa 2000-2005 hardware running on Windows XP, it can be found for quite cheap nowadays – I've seen one recently selling for 20€, including an ATI AIW 7500 card – but it adds yet another layer of bulk and complexity), or the ATI TV Wonder 600 / 650 USB devices (which have the advantage of running on any kind of computer, hardware-wise, laptop included, but from what I read there are compatibility issues with Windows 8+).
    But according to the experts, the capture device is only a small part of the equation, and a very small part of the total bill for a hafway decent VHS conversion setup.

    @lingyi
    A parting word of advice if you should come back to ask further questions about this, more info and details will get you quicker and better advice.
    But as lordsmurf said, one doesn't know what one doesn't know... It's very difficult, on any subject, when starting out and looking for guidance, to come up with questions specific enough to elicit the sustained interest of those who are experienced enough to provide relevant guidance – and much easier to elicit vague, irrelevant, or totally misguided guidance from those who don't know what they're babbling about, who don't know that they don't know what they don't know, or won't admit that they know what they don't know, or are so confused that they don't really know what they pretend to know. (Hence Roxio.)

    @lordsmurf
    JVC SR combo S-VHS VCR with line TBC
    That kind of mention may be self-evident to you, but even I, having read dozens of pages of discussions on that specific subject, fail to determine what it encompasses and what specific models it refers to – considering that it's the first time the key-words “JVC” or “line TBC” appear on that particular thread, so you couldn't blame the O.P. for being puzzled and befuddled. I approximately know a S-VHS VCR is, I know that some have an integrated line TBC and some don't (although I still don't know exactly what it does – but you admitted yourself that you didn't know either beyond your lengthy practical experience), but what is “SR combo” ?
    @mikehende
    What he refers to is most likely the JVC models with a name in “SR-xxx” among those listed there :
    https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/286055-VCR-buying-guide-(S-VHS-D-VHS-Professional)
    http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/video-restore/1567-vcr-buying-guide.html
    But I couldn't say why the “SR-xxx” are better suited than the “HR-xxx” in this particular situation (or, as lingyi implied, if anyone who may actually watch those 100+ hours of footage is bound to appreciate the difference between conversions made with such a high-end unit, admitting that Jack can find one within his puny budget, and with the one which is already there and ready to run, however subpar its output may be in comparison with the very best, from the point of view of a seasoned professional).
    Quote from lordsmurf 10 years ago (who technically was a whole other person then based on the turnover of organic matter, but that enduring alias is enough of a proof of the consistency of his being over that time frame ! ) :
    Note that the "professional" SR decks are simply a continuation of the prosumer 7000 series. The "Professional" badge is just branding/marketing, and does not make these better units. Several of the SR series machines were part of professional-quality "combo" decks that mixed in DV player/recorder and hard drives.
    But if (several of) those machines (which specific ones ?) have an integrated DV(D) recorder and a hard drive, then what is the purpose of the “LSI based” DVD recorder ? (Again you didn't mention specific models, or provide a specific link to a list of recommended models, which would be very helpful complex it already is, how much information there is to swallow when starting from zero or even less than zero considering that there are many misconceptions and wrong recommendations to discard first and foremost.)
    Or, the other way around, what would be the purpose of getting one of these “combo” units (which must be rare and significantly more expensive than the regular VCR-only ones), if the capture should be done with a dedicated “LSI based” DVD recorder ? It is also the first time in this thread that “LSI” is mentionned – to the O.P. : it generally refers to the JVC DR-M10 or DR-M100.
    Quote (possibly from lordsmurf too but that article is not signed) :
    The very best DVD recorders ever made had the ability to filter out typical VHS noises, such as chroma noise and grain, as well as encode cleanly and without blocks. These excellent models included the JVC DR-M10S, JVC DR-M100S, JVC DR-MH30, JVC DR-MH300, JVC DR-M1V, JVC DR-M5V, Toshiba RDR-XS32, Toshiba RDR-XS34, Toshiba RDR-XS35, and Toshiba RD-KX50. Another excellent machine was the Philips DVDR-3575/37 and Philips DVDR-3576/37, which did not filter, but still had excellent quality recordings.
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    Originally Posted by abolibibelot View Post
    650 USB
    Not the 650. AGC issues.
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    lordsmurf doesn't like to promote his own good works and offers, so I'll do it for him.

    He has some AIW 600 (and clones) for sale at digitalfaq here: http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/marketplace/8253-sale-ati-600-a.html. May be a bit more than typical eBay prices, but it's tested and guaranteed to work. He also recommends the software to use, Virtualdub and has the drivers for the AIW's.

    He also has some of some of his recommended hardware (VCRs, TBCs, capture cards) for sale as well as complete capture setups. Again, in general, his prices are probably above eBay, but it's tested and guaranteed by him.

    Edit: He may also have the combo unit he recommends for sale since he stated he has one and as he's said at digitalfaq, he usually has spares of everything!
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