I (like everyone else) have some old home movies on VHS, VHS-C and 8MM (and maybe a couple DV even...). I'd like to get them on my computer so I can edit them and store them.

In the past, I've used an old stand-alone DVD recorder that has an internal HD in it. So, I'd record VHS to my DVR via the SVHS video cable, and then edit them on the DVR and burn to DVD. Fine. No problems. But, I noticed most of the DVDs are blocky and have color banding issues. The quality just isn't that great. In some ways, the VHS actually looks better.

What I want to do is find the best way (in a consumer sense) to convert these to digital. I've heard of people using Hauppauge PVRs, I've heard of people using video capture cards, I've heard of FireWire though I'm still not sure what exactly that is...

I plan on buying an entirely new setup for this. I figured I might take a look at AlienWare since they're built for gamers and would likely be the best "off the shelf" box to start with. Can someone give me some input as to where I'd go from there? I don't want to spend $10K doing it, but if it costs $3K I'd consider it a good investment.

  • A Firewire cable is typically used to losslessly transfer DV (Digital Video) tapes to a computer, but maybe you should ask about that in a separate question.
    – Duvrai
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


Please tell me you didn't spend thousands of dollars. You can get the hardware you need in under 50.

I rip my VHS tapes with a PVR card as well, the Hauppauge (WinTV) are good ones.

I just use an RCA cable from my VHS player into the TV card, and record the input using V4L tools on Linux.

You'll need to use v4l utils to set the proper input on your card, and then use ffmpeg to copy the stream directly.

Here, I know what the length of the video is, and do a straight codec copy:

ffmpeg -i /dev/video0 -vcodec copy -acodec copy -t <hours:minutes> vhs.mpg

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