The evil of VCR to DVD recorders

I just had to tell this story.  It makes me feel dumb but I bet I’m not alone.
So many years ago, maybe 2002 timeframe, I bought one of those VHS to DVD conversion boxes.  Why?  Sure I could probably play my VCR into my PC and make copies but why bother with all the hassle?  These things let you stick in a DVD and a VHS tape, hit one button and walk away – I love it!
Yah, well…
I bought a Samsung (I don’t recall the model) but it was the cheapest one I could find at the time, about $250.
When I got it I tried the obvious – well it just sat there. 
I managed to hook up my PC to view the menu and played around with it.  Just couldn’t get it to work.
I remember (this was years ago) I called their customer support after a few days of no luck and I was told I had too new/fast a DVD in there to work.  Well gee, why can’t you tell me that you dumb machine!
I ended up useing some DVD-RW disks and I finally got it to work.
But when I viewed the resulting DVD, I was not impressed.  Just a very lame looking menu leading to titles.
I found out later that I have to use the remote to set things up to give proper titles etc. so that the resulting DVD is at least descriptive enough for a user to recognize what’s on it.
But using the remote was a real hassle – because there was a 1 second delay after every button I touched!  This was amazingliny slow!
This is a bigger deal than you might think because you have to specify the start and end times of each block on the VHS tape that is to be a separate title.  This can involve dozens of clicks and with a second delay between each click it can literally take a half hour to just set up one VHS tape to copy!
After repeated attempts to use it on rare occasions it just began to gather dust.  I used it so infrequently that I quickly past any chance of getting my money back.
Just a few weeks ago I gave it one more big try.  This time I simply couldn’t get any output out of the thing.  I don’t know if it was my new TV card in my PC or the wrong cables.  I went to various stores several times to try go get cables that would work including HDMI cables and adaptors – man are these expensive!  I eventually returned them all (except for a cable which the seller told me could not be returned because it wasn’t certified!  How LAME.  They charged me like $26 for that cable and I brought it back only two days after purchase!  (That was from Vetco)
So I had this thing for maybe 5 years and successfully copied maybe two VHS tapes.  Also the great feature I didn’t think about is copy protection!  If you bought a VHS movie, don’t expect these things to make a digital version for you – they just will refuse to work.  That really ticked me off because I threw out my old VHS player thinking this thing would have me into the digital domain in no time.  So don’t throw out your old VHS player!  It may be the only way to copy your VHS movies without having to buy a new DVD version.
So the dumb thing was in line to be trashed.
I was told that Stupid Prices had some VHS-DVD boxes for sale cheap.  I went over and they were going out of business so their Sony VHS-DVD boxes were only $65!!!  This was awesom!
But I wasn’t about to have the same thing happen to me again so I asked them to demo it for me (no refunds were allowed.)
They managed to hook it up to a TV but didn’t have any VHS tapes to test so I went home and picked up a copy protected VHS tape, a non-protected one, and two different types of DVDs (DVD-R and a DVD_RW)
When I got back I gave it a shot and no luck.  So I grabbed this kid (who reminds me of Drew)  and asked him to show me how to get it to work.  Well he tried the obvious, just like I did, and it just sat there.
I asked if he had a manual.  He didn’t the thing didn’t even come with a manual!  Then we realized that we probably needed a remote to get it to work.  He couldn’t find a remote for it but found one for a related model.  So what they were selling was a device that absolutely needs a remote…. without the remote!
I finally had to tell him I couldn’t buy it.
How do companies keep getting away with selling this CRAP?  Unbelievable!
I think I will try borrowing a friend’s VHS-DVD device and see if I can get that to work.
So much for easy.

About sanfords

Ex Microsoft Dev for 20 years. Currently retired at my ranch in Idaho near Kooskia. I like coaching Chess for kids so let me know if you are interested in those services.
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