Review: Conquering Mount VHS the easy way with the Pinnacle Video Transfer

Call me a pack rat, but in the 20 years between 1984 and 2004, I probably filled about 200 VHS tapes with stuff. No, not really important stuff like weddings or graduations, but just things I recorded off the TV for posterity. Looking back over these tapes, I now realize that I no longer have any interest in 90% of it, so a while back I began copying the bits and pieces I really wanted to DVD-R, then chucking the tapes. Now I've found a much better way.

We came across the Pinnacle Video Transfer back in January at CES, and this seemed like the perfect answer to my problem. Sure, I could have just ripped those DVD-Rs to a hard drive, but this seemed so much neater.

The Video Transfer is about as simple as it gets. At one end you have analog stereo audio and video inputs (composite and S-Video), while at the other end you have a USB port. The Video Transfer digitizes the signal, converting it to H.264 MPEG4 and sending out through the USB port. From there you can send it to a flash drive, Video iPod, PSP, or hard drive directly, without having to go near a computer.

Operation is utterly basic too. One side of the circular dial starts and stops the recording process, while the other side lets you choose between three quality levels. I found that for most of the VHS tapes the middle setting worked fine, but for higher quality material from my DVR or DVD player the best quality setting kept any losses to a minimum. For transfers to my iPod with it's tiny screen, the difference between middle and high quality was negligible.

You can control the start and stop point of the recordings by simply pressing the record button, or if you want tighter control over the editing, you can transfer the files into an editing program on your computer. I simply leave an entire two to three hour VHS tape to transfer, then zip through the recording to pull out the parts I want to keep. Simple and easy. This one's a keeper.

The Pinnacle Video Transfer is available now for about $100

Pinnacle Video Transfer