Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Good value, some limitations
on 22 January 2017
I bought this device to transfer material on VHS and S-VHS tapes to MP4 files, using a Linux computer. No drivers are provided for Linux, but several of the chips used in EasyCAP devices have drivers built into the Linux kernel. The problem is that there is rarely any information given on the chip itself, so I took a bit of a chance with the August VGB100, which one reviewer had indicated worked with Linux. In the event, the chip identified itself as a Conexant CX23102, which is supported in Linux, via the cx231xx driver.
I tried to capture the video and audio with VLC and immediately ran into problems:
1. The S-video input gave only a monochrome picture although the composite video (somewhat lower quality) produced colour
2. The picture aspect ratio was roughly square instead of 4:3 and I could find no way to correct this
3. The resulting captured video was noisy (white flecks)
In fairness, the suppliers do not claim support for Linux, so running out of time, I resurrected an elderly Win XP machine and loaded up the drivers and the supplied software - ArcSoft ShowBiz. This was much more successful and did not suffer from any of the above 3 problems. However, despite the manual claiming that the video could be captured in several formats, dependent on the codecs installed, I could find no way of setting the format to anything other than MPEG-2. This plays OK on the likes of VLC, but is not the format I wanted and the file size is quite large at around 35-40MB per min. Transcoding to MP4 with ShowBiz is possible but with no control settings available it results in a file of double the size.
With no other options, I switched to capturing to AVI with VirtualDub, with a view to better quality conversion to MP4 (h.264 codec). This of course results in absolutely enormous AVI files - around 1.25GB per min. Yes I do mean gigabytes. Subsequent conversion to MP4 with HandBrake reduces this to a very manageable 11.5MB per min, or around 700MB per hour.
The supplier, Daffodil, did follow up my purchase with an unsolicited customer service email, which was appreciated, but when I asked questions about alternative capture formats in ShowBiz and about the quality of the audio, no response was forthcoming. As it turned out, with standard VHS, which is of relatively poor video quality anyway, there was nothing to be gained from capturing to AVI rather than to MPEG-2 on subsequent transcoding to MP4 via HandBrake. It remains to be seen whether this still applies with S-VHS tapes. The audio quality seems to be quite good just from listening tests, but I used HandBrake settings of 256-bit audio and a quality level of 20 for video.
I have since tried the device on a Win 10 computer although it is specified as compatible with Win XP to Win 8 on Amazon's site and Win XP to Win 7 on Daffodil's site, and I can confirm it works fine on Win 10, albeit with the same limitations.
In summary, this device works as specified and is good value for the little it costs. For VCRs with just a SCART output, a SCART adapter was provided in the box. I cannot give it 5 stars owing to the lack of technical information, the inaccurate statement in the manual concerning capture formats and the lack of response of the supplier to technical questions.