Converting Hi8 (and other) videotapes to DVD

Week of April 17, 2005

Q: I have a Hi8 camcorder that is getting old and I would like to convert the Hi8 tapes to DVD. How do I do it, is it difficult, and any recommendations on what to buy?

-Susie Rosenberg, O’Hara Township,PA

A: The cable used to connect your camcorder to a television can also be connected to the inputs of a video recording device to make copies of your videos. It works the same for both DVD recorders and VCRs.

To make a copy, connect the camcorder output cable to the inputs of a VCR or DVD recorder. If one of the cables or inputs has two connections (white and yellow) and the other has three (white, red, and yellow), use only the white and yellow connections.

Next, select the input on the recording device. For example, if you plugged into Video 1, select Video 1 using the TV/Video button on the remote.

Some DVD recorders have a hard drive for storing and editing video before transfer to DVD. If you have this type, choose between recording to hard drive or recording to DVD.

Press record on the recording device and play on the camcorder to make the copy. If you have a DVD recorder, you aren’t done yet. After recording you must go to a menu and select “finalize” to close out the DVD so it can be played on compatible DVD players.

Please note a very important word- “compatible”. Compatibility issues plague recordable DVD, which has confused consumers and hindered acceptance in the marketplace. At the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show it was revealed that DVD recorders have a 40% return rate at the retail level. That’s a sobering number for the industry, but it is a number they have earned.

When you buy a VHS tape, you have one type of tape- a VHS tape. If you go to buy a blank DVD, you have a choice of DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD+R, DVD+RW. Typically they are not compatible with all recorders or players.

Recorded DVDs may not play on every model of DVD player. One relative may have a newer player than can read your recorded DVDs, but the other’s slightly older player cannot.

There are compatibility issues between brands of blank DVDs. A brand X DVD-R may play fine in your sister’s DVD player, but if you switch to a brand Y DVD-R next time, it might not. When you find a brand of media that works for you, stick with it!

Finally, DVD recorders seem to be some of the most counterintuitive pieces of consumer electronics I have ever seen. I had a Panasonic DVD/hard drive recorder last year and I ended up selling it on ebay because it was so cumbersome to use, specifically when editing on the hard drive.

Lately I have been testing a Liteon LVW-5045 DVD/hard drive recorder. I never thought I would say this about any DVD recorder, but I actually ENJOY using it!

Liteon DVD recorders feature an “Easy Guider” recording wizard that is extremely intuitive and a joy to use. Editing on the hard drive is a snap, and the “All-Write” technology is compatible with any of the DVD formats, as well as CD-Rs. (A Video CD has about the same image quality of a VHS tape and play on DVD players and computers.)

There are a few drawbacks. The progressive scan feature does not have 3:2 pulldown, which improves the picture quality of DVDs made from film. If you are a serious home theater buff, you may want to get a different DVD player to watch movies. The Liteon’s TV tuner is mono, not stereo. If you record from an antenna the DVDs won’t be recorded in stereo, but if you record from the inputs, they will be.

Quibbles aside, it’s a great product that is fun and easy to use, and ideal for converting videotapes to DVD. Liteon recorders are typically priced below the major brands and have a one-year parts and labor warranty, much better then the typical one year parts/90 days labor. You can see them at

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