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Another reason to throw out your VCR

By Shoshana Berger
Business 2.0

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(Business 2.0) -- Anyone who grew up during the VHS era might feel a pang of guilt when faced with the stacks of tapes stashed in the TV-room closet.

Ah, the memories recorded there -- vacations, weddings, your kid mooning the crowd at graduation. As time marches on, those plastic cartridges steadily degrade. DVDs have a much longer shelf life, but unless you've had an army of audio/video geeks at your disposal, until now the only option for transferring analog to digital has been to bring your tapes to the pros at the camera shop. Or you could buy one of those pricey new DV camcorders that turn analog content into digital video automatically.

The AVerMedia DVD EZMaker puts you in the director's chair again: With the help of a USB 2.0 connection, the process of putting VHS material onto a DVD or CD becomes a high-speed, do-it-yourself affair. The EZMaker USB 2.0 is a nifty little palm-size gizmo that uses basic video cables (the red, white, and yellow ones that connect your TV to your VHS or DVD player) to transfer recordings from a VHS player, camcorder, or TV to your computer.

Requires power

There are a few caveats to air before I give the EZMaker two thumbs up. This device has bleeding-edge system requirements: Your PC must have a 2-gigahertz or faster processor (e.g., a Pentium 4 or Athlon XP 2100), a USB 2.0 connection, and a speedy graphics card capable of 720-by-480-resolution video capture.

For those of you who think you can use your old USB connection, I have a word of advice: Don't. I tried it, and it's just not fast enough to capture the video signal for real-time recording. But when I hook up through a USB 2.0 PC, everything's perfect.

The NeoDVDstandard and MovieShop software programs that ship with the EZMaker are intuitive in design and let me capture VHS video and burn it to a DVD in just a few steps. MovieShop comes with video-editing modules too, so you can add backgrounds and audio tracks, and blur out your kid's backside.

At just $90, the EZMaker pays for itself after just a few transfer jobs. OK, now I'm ready: two thumbs up.

For more personal technology news visit Business 2.0.

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