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How to Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR

Ways to Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR

Last updated on January 23rd, 2024 at 02:30 am

Don’t Risk Losing Precious Family Memories

You want to convert VHS to DVD so that you don’t want to lose precious family memories.

VHS tapes are susceptible to mold attack and other forms of degradation the longer you keep them.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - VHS tape mold attack

Environmental factors like heat, moisture, and dust can take a toll on them over time.

The sooner you get them converted to DVD or a digital video format, the lower the chances of losing your precious memories.

Getting Started without a Functional VCR

You would know by now that to convert VHS to DVD you would need a video player, namely a VHS player, a video capture device, and a computer.

What if you don’t have a VHS player or VCR? Maybe you have one but it’s not functional.

You’ll not find a replacement set in your neighborhood electronics store. VHS player production ceased in 2016. The only way to lay your hands on a VCR is to get a used unit.

That, too, wouldn’t be easy in certain places. If you can’t find a VCR in your neighborhood thrift store, you may look for a VHS VCR online.

If for some reason you can’t lay your hands on a VHS player, then check out the following options to convert VHS to DVD without a VCR.

You may want to watch the short video below to know more.

Use a Tape to Digital Conversion Service

If you have only a tape or two to convert, save yourself the trouble of buying a VCR and setting up your computer to convert your VHS tapes to digital or DVD.

It would be much more economical and convenient to use a tape-to-DVD or tape-to-digital conversion service to convert VHS to DVD without a VCR.

You would surely find one in your neighborhood. Just Google VHS to DVD + name of your town.

Before proceeding, you may want to read about the type of service you can expect when using a tape to DVD conversion service.

Using a VHS Camcorder to Convert VHS to DVD without VCR

In order to convert VHS to DVD, you need a VHS playback device. There’s no other way you can send video from the VHS tape to the video capture device connected to your computer.

This is one of the major drawbacks of analog tape-based video. Each has its own format and playback device. You’ve to use a specific device to playback a videotape. For example, you can’t play back a mini-DV tape on an 8mm VCR and vice versa.

You have it easy with digital video. A DVD can be played back on a DVD player, game console, or a computer DVD drive. Video captured on a memory card can be played back on a DVD player, computer, and even a TV box.

Since you can’t lay your hands on a VCR, the alternative is a VHS video camera or camcorder.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - VHS Video Camera

VHS camcorders were once popular (1980s) because after shooting you can easily play back your tape on a VCR.

Also, you can play it back directly to the TV if you don’t have access to a VCR.

How can a VHS camcorder act as a VCR replacement? Although a VHS camcorder is basically a video camera, it is also a VHS player.

It has the functionality of a VHS player, that is. It comes with the necessary Play, Pause, Rewind and Fast Forward buttons.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - VHS Video camera VCR buttons

You may want to ask around if anyone you know has a VHS camcorder. Or you may want to visit your neighborhood thrift store to see if you can get hold of one.

If you can’t, then you would have to source for it online.

Frankly speaking, you would find it much easier to land a VHS VCR than a VHS camcorder or video camera.

This is because VHS video cameras were the province of video production companies rather than consumers.

Size and weight deterred people from buying them. Only in later years did some compact VHS camcorders arrive on the market.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR - Panasonic VHS palmcorder

Many opted for 8mm camcorders and later mini-DV owing to size, weight, and video quality.

Still, if a VHS camcorder is available without cost or for an affordable price, go for it.

How to Connect Your VHS Camcorder to Your Computer

Testing Your VCR Camcorder

If you’ve gotten hold of a VHS camcorder, it’s advisable to power it with an AC adapter. You probably can’t rely on an old VHS camcorder battery pack to see you through the video playback and video capturing process.

First of all, you want to test whether the VHS camcorder could play back your tape.

The easiest way to do it is to connect the VHS camcorder to your TV after inserting your tape into it.

Usually, you would do it through an RCA connection, just like you would connect a VCR to a TV.

There would usually be an RCA out for video and audio as shown below. Just connect RCA cables to your TV, switch the camcorder to VCR or Player Mode, and hit the Play button.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - VHS camcorder AV out

Connecting Your VHS Camcorder to a Video Capture Card

If your VHS camcorder can successfully play back video on your TV, then you’re ready to connect it to an affordable video capture device as shown below. This is the first step towards converting VHS to DVD without a VCR.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - USB analog video capture device

This video capture card will convert the analog video signal into a digital video signal and store it on your computer’s hard disk.

An example is the Pinnacle Dazzle DVD Recorder.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR  - Pinnacle Dazzle DVD Recorder.

This is done with the help of a video editing program, which usually comes bundled with the video capture device as shown in the image above.

Once you’ve captured your video footage to your hard drive you can easily edit it, cutting out parts that you don’t want. You may also add titles, effects and so on.

Capturing Video without a Computer

If you don’t have a computer or don’t fancy buying a video capture device. You can opt for an analog video-to-digital converter like the ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0.

With this converter, you would not need a computer to digitize your analog video footage.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR - ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0.

The device allows you to record video from an analog source like a VCR or a camcorder directly into a pen drive or a memory card in the MP4 format. In this way, you can play back your captured video directly through your HDTV USB port.

Of course, you don’t have an editing facility with the device. But then you can easily import video into a computer to edit, should the need arise later.

Check out the ClearClick Video to Digital Converter 2.0 if you want to quickly convert your VHS tape to digital without a computer.

DVD Recorder Option

The above options would require you to capture VHS footage into a digital file and then use DVD burning software to create a DVD. This would require you to have a DVD writer on your computer.

Computers these days don’t come with DVD drives. So, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a DVD writer on your computer, you can record your VHS footage directly to DVD.

This can be done with a DVD recorder. All you have to do is connect the VHS camcorder directly to the DVD recorder. After inserting a blank disc, press PLAY on your VHS playback source and hit record on the DVD recorder.

You may not be able to find a DVD recorder in your neighborhood electronics store but can do so online. Like the Toshiba DR430 DVD Recorder as shown below.

Learn more about DVD recorders.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR 9 - DVD Recorder

The Easiest Option to Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR

If you don’t fancy any of the options above and want a no-fuss solution, you could opt for the VHS – DVD recorder combo.

With this option, you won’t need a VHS camcorder, a capture device, or a computer with a DVD drive to convert VHS to DVD without a VCR.

Within a single unit, you get a VHS player and a DVD recorder. An example of a VHS-DVD recorder combo unit is the Magnavox VHS to DVD Recorder VCR Combo. It comes with HDMI connectivity.

Convert VHS to DVD without a VCR - VHS-DVD recorder combo

Put your VHS tape in the VHS player and a blank DVD in the DVD recorder. Hit the play button on the VHS player and the record button on the DVD recorder.

The drawback is the cost. Be prepared to fork out a generous amount of cash as the price for convenience and ease of use, though.

But then if you’re thinking of finally settling for a VCR, you may want to splash a few hundred dollars extra to grab any of these VHS-DVD recorder combos.

You’ve seen the possible options to convert VHS to DVD without a VCR and with a VHS camcorder or video camera.

The camera option is, of course, an inconvenient way of doing it, especially if you’ll be saddled with a bulky VHS video camera. You should only use it as a last resort. Otherwise, always opt for a VHS player or VCR-DVD recorder combo if it’s possible.

VHS to DVD without a VCR: Video Guide

Check out the video below, if you’ve not watched it, to refresh your understanding of how to convert VHS to DVD without a VCR.

Free Video Workshop