Thoughts, information and reflections about technology

Magnavox MWR20V6 – VHS to DVD Dubbing

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As we mentioned in a previous post, the device we bought to try to copy our VHS tapes to DVD via the PC just didn’t work out.

Instead, we purchased a Magnavox MWR20V6. Among other things, this device has the ability to copy your VHS tapes to DVD and vice versa, if the tapes are not copy protected.

It works pretty well, we have not had any coasters yet. On the other hand, there is a fairly steep learning curve and some of the functions seem a bit awkward.

Once you get everything set up, you put your VHS tape in and set it to about 5 seconds before where you want to start. It is proably a good idea to fast foward and rewind the tape which will even out the tape.

You can feed the machine a wide variety of DVDs including +R, -R, +RW and -RW. We’ve only tried the +Rs at this point although it appears that the RWs would give us a little more flexibility.

At this point we are trying to archive our vhs tapes. Tapes deteriorate over time. We want to get copies in a digital format for posterity. That leads us to our next decision: what quality to use for recording the DVDs? You have several options where you can trade the recording time for quality. At the best quality, you only get one hour of recording on a DVD. At one notch down, you get 2 hours. Most of our VHS-C’s are about an hour and a half. Right now, we are recording at the second level to get one tape on one DVD. We plan to go back and redo things at the highest level once we get all the initial tapes archived.

The copy protection, obviously installed to the whims of the hollywood elite, is incredibly annoying. The tapes I was archiving initially were from about 1995 and were not viewed very often. I kept getting alerts that ‘copying this program is not allowed’ while recording. When this happens, recording stops but the tape continues. If you walked away, you will now spend time trying to re-cue the tapes. Obviously, the copy protection system is overly sensitive.. G-d forbid that Hollywood doesn’t get every penny possible. The actresses and singers are so poor, Brittney can’t even afford panties.. Anyway, enough ranting.. This could be very frustrating if you had recorded a long segment and the scene stops in the middle of something important. It seems that a fast forward and rewind will help reduce the false copy protection alerts.

It takes some time to determine how to set up the titles and chapter marks. If you are using DVD +/-Rs instead of the RWs, you cannot split titles up. This reduces the functionality of the menu screen when viewing the DVD. However, our initial objective is to digitize the analog tapes. Therefore we aren’t spending too much time ont he front end.

Our plan is to eventually take the digitized tapes and run those videos through pc based video editing software and create more polished presentations.

Some other random thoughts.

  • As we mentioned earlier, there is a learning curve.
  • The 800 support was very good. We had a question on navigating the screens and got the right answer withing 15 minutes. (your mileage may vary)
  • Creating the titles can only be done through the handheld remote. This process can be a little tedious and if you don’t hit the enter key, you lose your edits.
  • You should understand the issue of finalizing the DVDs. That will allow them to be compatible with other machines but will prevent further edits.
  • Hitting the ‘display’ button while in the recording mode should show the amount of time remaining on the disc. Keep in mind that edits use up the workspace.
  • If you delete a title, it appears that you have lost all of the video associated with that title.
  • This device does not interact with your PC. If you have a video out on your PC, you should be able to copy from the PC to DVD, although you could do that on the PC. You can take the DVDs you create and use them in the PC with your PC based video editing software.

Overall, the Magnavox was a good purchase. It will take a while to really get the dubbing process moving. It’s long overdue. As we go through the process, we are taking copies of the DVDs offsite. That will greatly increase the odds that the videos will be available for future generations.

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