Holiday gift ideas: Getting Digi With It

This is the second year of this category, featuring devices and services that let you "get digi with it" -- or rather digitizing your old analog content. From old music to old movies, if you have boxes of old content, you'll need the latest gear to help bring that content into the digital age.

Honest Technology VHS to DVD 4.0

If you're like me, you have a ton of old VHS tapes lying around that you'd like to convert to DVDs, if for no other reason that the aging VCR (you know, that strange box with the flashing "12:00") you paid a fortune for today just sits around taking up space. Enter Honest Tech's (you gotta love that name!) VHS to DVD 4.0, a tiny box and associated software that bridges the composite video and stereo audio outputs of your VHS deck (caution, though, the required RCA cables are not included) to USB, and provides the necessary digitization and even limited optional editing capabilities. This product is also useful for capturing video from older camcorders that lack a digital connection, as well as audio from equally-aging cassettes, LP records, and the like.

Installation took a while -- we had to install the product (with a few confusing pauses that looked like hangs), along with Windows Media Runtime and AppleApple QuickTime for Windows, and then (gulp) reboot, install an update for QuickTime, enter a lengthy product key (irritating for software that requires particular hardware), and then manually install an update, which we were informed of by the application (why not install it automatically, we ask). Alles zu Apple auf

Finally, ready for a little capture and burn, we used the product's Easy Wizard Mode to digitize a VHS tape of a few precious memories (we'd never dream of testing this with copyrighted material, we want all law enforcement officials to know). The app fired right up, and the preview window was filled with the glorious days of yesteryear. The only tricky part was selecting the length of recording (you need to know this so the app can optimize for quality), but we were off and running quickly. The whole process can take a while, depending upon the length of the source material and speed of your burner, but it's completely automated so it won't waste any of your time. And the result -- priceless! - with quality as good as the original VHS tape. Except for a little installation and application clunkiness, this product is perfect for most conversion applications, and highly recommended.

Cool Yule Rating: 4 starsPrice: $79.99Product Web site.Reviewed by Craig Mathias ~~

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