It’s about this time every year that I get a plaintive plea from my parents, who would like nothing more for Christmas than for me to convert some form of old media into a new and more usable format. As a kid I remember taping records for my mom so she’d have music to listen to in the car. More recently I converted slides from my dad’s days in the Peace Corps into image files that I loaded on to a digital photo frame. This year I’m tackling some of the VHS home movies in the parental archive in the hopes that I can make a dent in the job of turning their videotape library into something watchable on TVs, PCs, and iPods.
On impulse I picked up a VuPoint ST100B Digital Video Converter on sale for $30 in a JustDeals offer earlier this week. (It’s $53.14 at Amazon now.) We have an old analog-to-digital converter, but it’s hardware we haven’t touched in years, and it’s been known to be finicky in the past. The VuPoint comes with some warning. It doesn’t play nice with Macs, and it only converts files into .asf format suitable for Windows Media Player. However, I figure I can download something off the net to transcode .asf files to .mp4 – something like the open-source HandBrake software we’ve used for Roku playback in our house. Once I’ve got a batch of .mp4 files, it’ll be a cinch to burn a DVD, transfer the lot to a USB stick, or steal my mother’s iPod Touch and upload the files there. Voila, old-media-to-new-media dilemma solved.
Perhaps I’m being over-optimistic about the conversion process with the VuPoint box. Anyone out there found a simpler, faster route to playable home movies? If this doesn’t work, I’ll be looking for suggestions.