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A friend has come into possession of a VHS tape whose video is encoded in the PAL standard. He would like to play this tape back and record the output into some format that he can easily play back in the United States - either NTSC video, or some digital format. He can't just play it in a common local NTSC VCR, as he hears sped-up sound and sees no video.

What equipment would be required to do this, and are there any other considerations that need to be taken into account, such as power adapters?

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2 Answers 2

Any VCR to PC capture device should do the job.IF you can find a VCR which can play PAL. Usually these type of players are sold in the Indian or Arabic neighbourhoods. I think it is not worth the effort to buy one and deal with the capturing. Simply find a place close to where you live, where they can do it for you. The average cost is $5 to $10 per tape. And they will give you the information on a disk or flash card.

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You need two things - a PAL VCR and a digital video converter than can speak PAL. The last one I bought (in 2005) was software configurable for (or could autodetect) PAL and NTSC, and several that show up on Amazon appear to be both PAL and NTSC compatible. It looks like VCRs that are PAL compatible are available on both Amazon and EBay.

When acquiring a VCR, pay attention to its power supply requirements. I haven't purchased a VCR in over a decade, so I have no general advice on what to expect. However, if the VCR expects 220-240 V and/or 50 Hz, then you will need an inverter in order to use it in North America (120V @ 60Hz).

Edit: Once you've digitally captured the video, you should be able to play it on a PC or most mobile devices. If you really need to transcode it to NTSC, then something like VLC or Apple's Compressor should do the trick.

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I use the Ion Video to PC software and it copes with PAL and NTSC - works really well for either. –  Dr Mayhem Aug 17 '12 at 8:19

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