N.B. I considered posting this to hardwarerecs but not only is it much less active than this site, I also have a feeling there's a lot more specialist knowledge on the topic here, and practical questions about hardware that is no longer manufactured does appear to be on-topic.
I have some family home videos on VHS that I'm responsible for digitising. I know I will need both a VCR and a USB capture card, but money is tight so there are a few important details I want to clarify before I spend anything.
The Capture Card
This is probably the easiest part, and I'll more than likely be buying this one here as it seems to be the cheapest one without a lot of worrying reviews.
The VCR will obviously be bought second-hand, but being born in the last decade of the 20th century, I'm just about old enough to remember having to choose between PAL/NTSC on my PlayStation, and don't have a lot of experience with VCRs themselves.
Firstly: with regards to PAL vs NTSC, Wikipedia indicates that it does matter, so now I'm wondering if my tapes are marked as PAL SECAM, do I need a PAL VCR? I've seen a few local listings on eBay for NTSC VCRs, and confusingly I even saw one that said "NTSC Playback on PAL TV" (see below), but actual PAL VCRs seem surprisingly hard to come by considering they would have presumably been the default where I live (in the UK).
Secondly: and perhaps most importantly, this forum suggests it's necessary to invest in an S-VHS VCR to get the best quality out of the videos:
Not only would it be a good idea [to invest in an S-VHS VCR], but it's practically an essential requirement. Want to use a cheap VCR? Your "highest quality" requirement just bit the dust. Good output begins with a quality capture. No quality capture, no quality output. Period. For vcr's We never never never recommend eBay or similar auction sites. You find good VCR's in our marketplace forum. A recommended source for rebuilt high-end VCRs and other rebuilt goods is Tom Grant's shop.
Recommended VCRs for NTSC and PAL are listed here: VCR Buying Guide (S-VHS, D-VHS, Professional) for restoring video
Which of those VCR line you should consider depends on your analog tape library. Are most of them retail tapes and tapes recorded at high 2-hour speed? All of the listed brands will do them justice. Are they slow-speed recordings, 4 to 6 or 8 hours??? I'm afraid Panasonic is your only choice. Slow-sped tapes look like crap on a JVC.
Is this true? Will I need to shell out for a more expensive S-VHS VCR to avoid sacrificing quality?
Finally: are there any other VCR features I need to look for/avoid, that will improve/hinder the quality of the conversion? I see some are listed as 4-head, 6-head, Super Drive, etc.? Do any of these matter for my purposes?