So you?ve decided the time has come to transfer all of your VHS (or even beta) videotapes to DVD for safekeeping. But how?s it done? By David Hague.

Many people are realising the benefits of recordable and re-recordable DVDs. They are also fast accepting that tape ? at least VHS tape ? has had its day. And there?s one thing for certain – once you own a DVD recorder, you?ll never go back to videotape.

About the same time you realise this, you?ll probably also be thinking about what to do with that mountain of VHS tapes you?ve piled up over the last decade. While you might not want to watch the complete second series of Knight Rider ever again, there?s sure to be some of it that you?ll want to transfer to DVD.

Apart from being able to play VHS content on your shiny new DVD player, another compelling reason to transfer your collection is that tape wears out. Every time you play a VHS tape in a VCR, a small layer of the tape is abraded off and picture and sound quality suffer accordingly. Tape can also simply deteriorate and fall apart – and snap. None of these problems plague DVD, although don?t get complacent; unlike CDs, DVD is very susceptible to even the smallest of scratches.

 

Resist the urge to stick labels on your created DVDs. Instead, invest in one of the newer printers from Epson or Canon that can print directly on to “white writeable” blank DVDs.

Another benefit of using DVD is convenience ? in a number of areas. The smaller size of DVDs, even including their cases, means that they are easier to store. With a tidy storage unit, you can turn your mountain of tapes into, well, a small knoll. And the digital format means that any specific part of the video on the DVD can be found quickly. But another advantage, not as immediately evident, is that you can play DVDs back in any number of devices including the in car head-unit, portable players, your PC, laptops and even games consoles. In a word, DVD is ?portable?.

One trap for the unwary though is to believe that by transferring to DVD you?ll get better quality out of your tapes. Not so. You cannot get a silk purse out of a sow?s ear as they say. If anything, quality will drop a tad as any transfer from one medium to another causes some loss. But in this case, it?ll be minimal and most won?t even notice.

While we are mentioning the copying of tapes containing recorded TV footage or even movies purchased from a retail store, it is important to know that under current Australian legislation, it is technically illegal to copy such material from its source format to another.