Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Hardware Review – Smartdisk’s Videosafe

Video tapes degrade over time. If you don’t do anything, they will eventually be unusable.

We found a piece of hardware by Smardisk called VideoSafe. It’s simplicity itself with a usb connector and jacks for video, left and right audio and s-video. The software by arcsoft is also minimalist. The unit was just $49 at OfficeMax.

The idea is that you plug it in, then put a tape in your VCR or Camera and you can easily record up to 2 hours onto a standard 4 gig dvd.

The install went easily and didn’t require a reboot. When you plug the unit in, you need to be patient as it will load the video drivers and then the audio drivers. However, when we tried to use it, we were getting a ‘could not find the device/ device in use ” message.

We checked out the web and found that it could be related to the usb port we were using. So, we tried other ports and could not get it working. This probably isn’t the fault of the unit but rather that we have a machine that is several years old (and due for replacement soon). The machine does not have usb 2.o ports.

One other issue was that we were down to 3 gig free on the machine. The software told us we didn’t have enough space but didn’t say how much to free up. We moved a couple of gigs to an external drive (told you we need a new desktop). That eliminated the space message. There was no provision for pointing the temp files to another drive.

The software looked extremely easy to use even for a complete novice. Overall, it is probably a good choice if you have a limited library of tapes that you want to digitize.

The software doesn’t appear to support Vista at this time although that will probably change soon

On reflection, we decided it might not be the best solution for us. We are going to go out and get one of the units that has the tape player and Dvd recorder in one unit. They can be found for under $150. The nice part about them is that you put the tape and dvd in and walk away. You are not tying up disk space or your machine while burning DVDs.

So, regardless of the solution you choose, consider doing something to get copied of your videos onto a more durable media.

(check back later after we’ve purchased a tape to dvd machine for a report)

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