Which video converter is best?
Since the first silent motion pictures, people have been entertained by videos. Videos took on many different formats, but all were analog, which limited the quality of the sights and sounds they reproduced.
If you’ve got boxes of old videos, now you can transform all of them to digital. If you want a way to convert your old VCR, VHS and camcorder videos without any computer or software, take a look at the Clear Click Video to Digital Converter 2.0 Bundle Edition.
What you need to know before you buy a video converter
Types of video converter
Video converters are devices you use to transfer your old analog videos to current digital formats. They turn analog video into digital in one of three ways:
- Standalone video converters: These all-in-one devices connect to an analog video source and digitize the video internally, without any need for a computer. Digitized videos are then downloaded to internal memory cards or USB thumb drives. Standalone converters have display screens so you can watch the video while it is being converted.
- High-definition multimedia interface converters: More commonly referred to as HDMI, these are small electronic gadgets that convert analog signals to digital. HDMI converters use RCA jacks and S-video connectors to link older analog video sources to modern digital televisions or projectors.
- USB capture devices: These tools digitize analog video by attaching to any computer that has a USB port. Capture devices require video conversion and editing software that you purchase separately.
Video converter or video-to-digital converter?
The term video converter can mean hardware, software or both. The term video-to-digital converter tells you this is a hardware device only. Some convert your videos directly and others need to be controlled and operated through your computer.
Only some video converters come with all the cables you need. If you are converting old VCR tapes, you need the familiar red-yellow-white color-coded RCA cables. Check beforehand, because some older devices need an S-video cable to connect.
Do you have a VHS player?
You need to find a player to be able to convert your VHS tapes to video. VHS recorders and players are not made anymore, so you’ll have to search the classified ads, visit garage sales or scour thrift shops.
What to look for in a quality video converter
If you buy a simple converter, your analog video gets transferred to digital just as it is. Because many old analog videos have low video quality, look for a converter that lets you improve the quality of your old videos by adjusting brightness, contrast, hue and saturation across the entire video spectrum.
Better HDMI converters with editing software can convert old 480-pixel-resolution videos into 1080p and even 4K. Lower-quality converters only copy what’s there and are unable to upgrade your video’s quality.
Not all video converters are simple to use. Look for converters with instructions for connecting and operating that are clearly written in plain language. A good source of how easy — or hard — the instructions are to follow is Amazon online customer reviews.
If you’re planning on converting all your old videos at once, look for plug-and-play converters that don’t have the steep learning curve professional systems have. Converters that are easy to use cost more, but unless you consider yourself savvier than most about technology, they’re worth it in decreased frustration and increased productivity.
How much you can expect to spend on a video converter
The least-expensive HDMI converters and USB capture devices cost from $10-$30, but not all come with the connecting cables you need. Fully-equipped USB capture devices cost from $40-$100. Standalone video converters cost from $100-$400.
Video converter FAQ
Are my video tapes too old to convert?
A. Video tapes deteriorate over time, but when properly stored, can last as long as 30 years. Most don’t last that long because the tape becomes brittle. As long as yours are free of cracks and breaks, you can convert them to digital.
Can I convert 8 mm film to digital video?
A. Yes. The best way is to use a converter specially made to transfer that old film format to digital. They use high-resolution scanners to record digitally while the film plays.
Can video converters save my old videos to a DVD?
A. Most can. Check before you buy to make certain the converter does the job you need and saves it the way you want.
What’s the best video converter to buy?
Top video converter
What you need to know: This converter lets you record video from VCR, VHS, camcorders and more without any computer or software.
What you’ll love: At the touch of a button, you get 720 x 480-pixel resolution from old-school videos made before today’s digital sophistication. Watch on your large preview screen as you record your favorite videos directly onto any USB thumb drive. The bundle includes built-in video editing capability and a 32-gigabyte flash drive.
What you should consider: It doesn’t work with modern video sources.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top video converter for the money
What you need to know: This simple, quick connector works equally well with PCs and Macs.
What you’ll love: This hardware comes with software that lets you adjust colors, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and more. The USB 2.0 interface and color-coded connectors hook up to all the older analog video formats.
What you should consider: With any software that performs technical functions there is a learning curve that usually turns out to be steeper than customers had hoped.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This box holds everything you need for professional-looking video conversions.
What you’ll love: With this bundle, you can connect the cables, play your old videos on your PC or Mac, and get crisp resolution from your old VHS, Beta, camcorder, DVD, 8 mm tapes and more. You get a capture device, USB and RCA cables, a software installation CD and a quick start guide.
What you should consider: Reviewers say the instructions use technical terms and get confusing sometimes.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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