There are ways to convert your videotapes to digital formats without a conversion kit. However, for users that aren’t tech-savvy, the conversion process can be confusing and challenging. All-in-one conversion kits make the process much easier. These kits provide everything you need, except a computer and a VCR. If you don’t have a player that still works, you’ll need to pick one up.
Included components: VHS to digital conversion kits should include all the parts necessary to complete the task. Components include the converter box, connector cables, and the required software you’ll need to be installed on your computer.
Compatibility: Make sure you buy the converter kit that’s compatible with your computer. The kits featured in this article have versions for both Mac and Windows. So, just double-check which one you’re buying before paying for it.
Video resolution: Old VHS tapes have notoriously low video resolution. The best conversion kits can upscale VHS content to standard definition resolution. Unfortunately, HD conversion is a bit much even for these products.
Export formats: Before you begin the process, you’ll have to select which digital format you want to convert your tapes to. The most common video format is MP4. But, you may occasionally need to convert to a different format. Unfortunately, only one of the products in this article does more than MP4. You may want to invest in a video format converter program.
Supported video standards: Depending on where you live or where your videotapes came from, you may encounter compatibility issues between the NTSC and PAL standards. If you live outside the United States, double-check which regional standard your tapes are in before beginning the conversion process.
Burning capability: If you want to watch your videotapes through your optical disc player (DVD or Blu-ray), you’ll select a product capable of burning discs. If the program you choose can’t do that, you’ll need to buy disc-burning software and a disc burner.
Standalone converter: Two of the products featured below require no computer to digitize your videotapes. You simply connect the capture box to an analog device and record content directly to a USB flash drive or SD card.
- ✓ Available for Windows and Mac
- ✓ Full region code compatibility
- ✓ Optional DVD burner
- ✗ Requires a computer
- ✗ Mac version only captures in MP4
VIDBOX is an excellent choice for VHS to digital conversion. The included converter box has outlets for RCA, USB, and XLR cables (XLR cord not included). You can connect it to VCR, camcorder, or computer, so it’s quite a versatile device.
VIDBOX comes in three versions, one for Windows, one for Mac, and a suite that includes both iterations. The combo suite is perfect for users who own both Windows and Mac machines.
VIDBOX can convert your tapes to 720×480 resolution for the Windows version, but only 640×480 for Mac, which is slightly disappointing. However, this is the only product that converts to formats other than MP4. VIDBOX can convert your analog content to DVD, and MPEG-2 as well. Mac is limited to MP4, another disappointment.
This product is also compatible with all regional standards, including NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. So, no matter where you live or where your tapes come from, you can immortalize them in digital format.
One more feature worth mentioning is that it can convert video content into an audio format. It’s convenient if you’ve captured a speech or concert with your VHS camcorder and only want the audio version of the performance.
VIDBOX Video Conversion Suite
Convert your tapes easily on both PC and Mac
- ✓ Both standalone and computer version available
- ✓ Built-in screen shows what's being captured
- ✓ Computer versions include video editing software
- ✗ Only produces in MP4 files
- ✗ Storage devices not included
Diamond has three versions of its analog-to-digital product. The first is the VC500 Digital Converter, a standalone device that connects directly to your VCR or camcorder. Once connected, all you have to do is play the content you want to digitize and press record on the capture box.
The 3.5-inch display shows you what’s playing, allowing you to pause at any time, so you only capture the content you want. You can save recorded footage to either a USB flash drive or an SD card with up to 512GB of storage capacity.
Once captured, you can use your newly digitized videos with any editing program, disc burner, or media player. You can even use the HDMI port to connect to a TV or other display and watch straight from the device. The one big downside of the standalone product is that it only records in MP4 format. So, if you need something other than that, you’ll need to use a file format converter.
If you prefer to capture your video footage with a computer, the VC500 Digital Converter is also available for both PC and Mac. The process is the same, except you have all the power of your computer’s superior processor, larger display, and built-in hard drive.
The computer versions of the converter also come with a copy of Cyberlink’s video editing software: PowerDirector, allowing you to import, edit, and enhance your analog footage just the way you want it easily. Another benefit of the computer versions is that they cost about $100 less than the standalone offering.
Diamond Multimedia VC500ST One Touch Standalone Digital Converter: Capture/Record Video from VHS, HI8, Camcorder, Set Top Box or Any Source with Composite/S-Video RCA AV outputs
The Diamond VC500 Digital Converter enables you to convert VHS to digital with or without a computer.
- ✓ No computer required
- ✓ Captures from nearly any analog video device
- ✓ Display shows recording in real time
- ✗ No computer version available
- ✗ Video editing software costs extra
The ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0 is another standalone capture device that does more than converting VHS tapes. It can also record content from a DVD player, DVR device, retro gaming systems, and more. You can use it on any analog device with an RCA or S-Video connection. So, if you’ve been waiting to record your speed run of Super Mario Bros to upload to the internet, this device is an easy way to do it.
Like Diamond’s standalone recorder, ClearClick features a display where you can watch what’s the recording in real time. It also has the same storage scheme: USB flash drives and SD cards (not included). And also like Diamond, it features an HDMI output port. This enables you to connect the capture box directly to a television or display with an HDMI input port. So, no need to use a computer to watch, burn a DVD, or any other rigamarole necessary to display captured footage on a screen other than your computer’s.
This device is totally computer free. Unlike Diamond, there are no versions for your computer. If you want to get your captured footage onto your local hard drive, you need to insert the flash drive or SD card you used to capture the footage into your computer. Then you can do whatever you want with it. And ClearClick also sells this product bundled with a basic video editor program: VideoPad. But you have to buy it from their website, and it costs about $20 more.
ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0 (Second Generation) - Record Video from VCR's, VHS Tapes, AV, RCA, Hi8, Camcorder, DVD, Gaming Systems
Convert your VHS tapes to digital with no computer required.