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VHS Content to DVD Media
Patience can sometimes be rewarded as my experiences with this next product proved. Grabster AV150 comes with the claim of being able to convert VHS tapes to DVD media. I must admit that my initial attempts to get this product to work were a complete failure. This is where the patience comes into the picture. Let me explain.
Naively I expected the Grabster box to contain all the bits and pieces you would need to get the product up and running. I was wrong and therefore have to accept some of the blame for the period of frustration that accompanied my early failures with this product. .
The product, as sent to me, consisted of a dark grey box (measuring 95 x 65 x 19mm) with various connection sockets along two sides; a USB 2.0 lead; a Y-cable with one 3.5mm jack and two phono plugs; and a CD containing drivers, the bundled software and an electronic version of the User Guide. According to the instructions, printed on the side of the box and also in the Electronic User Guide, all you need to do is to connect the USB lead; link the Y-cable to your sound card and Grabster device; install the drivers and software; and then attach the leads to your VHS machine.
Unfortunately, while both the VHS recorders available to me had phono sockets for inputting audio and video plus output for audio, the only means of providing video output (the whole reason for the Grabster's existence) was via SCART. The Grabster does NOT have a SCART socket. Many a long session followed as I tried various combinations of leads and sockets. I could get audio from my VHS recorder while a DVD player was able to give me both video and audio via the Grabster but this did not solve the problem of transferring VHS tape content to DVD media.
Fortunately help came but from a surprising source. It was my local supermarket. On a recent visit, while looking for a totally unrelated item, I came across a converter kit for turning a SCART socket into phone sockets for audio and video. This piece of kit also allows you to switch between input and output. No longer will I complain about the propensity of the supermarket to reorganise its layout of products (well at least for a couple of visits) so making everything hard to find. Sainsbury's take a bow for solving my problem - thank you
With the addition of this SCART conversion kit (you even get the leads for linking between devices), setting up the Grabster was easy. Audio is automatically passed through the Grabster to your sound card leaving the software to deal with the digitising of the VHS content. I half expected there to be a possible problem with lip-synching but I was unable to detect any.
Terratec supply a copy of Ulead's DVD MovieFactory 3 and Ulead's VideoStudio 7SE. Using the supplied software you can capture files in either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 formats while viewing the captured content in a window. On-screen information is provided as to the actual time length of the captured video plus available hard disk space. Multiple clips can be captured in a single session and thumbnails, appearing in a kind of storybook pane, are used to represent each captured clip.
When appropriate you can import clips (presumably non copy-protected items) from other media and add these to your project. You can remove unwanted sections, rearrange the order of the clips plus add vertical and horizontal titles, personalised menus, background images and audio for linking sequences or background effects. Once you are satisfied with the results then you can burn your creation to a DVD disk that should be playable in any DVD player.
So as I reported at the beginning of this review, patience does have its reward. The Grabster enabled me to transfer some old video content to DVD media. At its price point of £49.99, I can appreciate that including a SCART conversion kit was not an option, however I do feel that some mention of this type of device should have been mentioned - perhaps Terratec could offer such a device as an optional extra. System specification required for the Grabster are a Pentium III 800 MHz, 256MB RAM, 400MB hard disk space, USB 2.0, sound card with line input and DVD burner running Windows XP.
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