Review: Blackmagic Video Recorder

Rip your analog video easily. (July 21st, 2009)

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Product Manufacturer: BlackMagic Design Inc.

Price: $149.99

The Good

  • Everything you need to digitize video included. Easy to use software and hardware. Simple software interface. No audio lag issues. Component, Composite, and S-Video support.

The Bad

  • Saves files to the desktop only. Device became rather warm during extended use. S-Video requires a separate adapter.

As digital technology becomes increasingly affordable, many of us want to digitalize our older analog media that may be sitting on a shelf quietly degrading away as the years pass. The Blackmagic Video Recorder, designed for people who have a large analog VHS or Video-8 collection and want to create digital copies, comes with all the pieces you need to copy those tapes to your computer. Please note you cannot copy commercial DVDs with the Blackmagic Video Recorder, but you can copy DVDs you've made yourself.

Video Recorder

Smaller is Better

The Video Recorder is slightly larger than a standard thumb drive, with the male USB plug at one end and the component connections at the other. The Video Recorder handles composite or component signals, and features options for recording S-video signals with a separate adapter. These options allow the device to record signals from VHS players, video cameras, and most devices with RCA output options. A small USB extension cord is included, which moves the device away from the computer, freeing up space for surrounding USB ports.

Video Recorder Size Comparison


Video Recorder Size Comparison

Easy to Use Software

The software included for recording videos is one of the simplest programs that I have used; yet still features more than enough options. All of the features are seamlessly integrated into one main window, which is impressive.

Video Recorder


Video Recorder Software


The left side of the window includes options for selecting the appropriate input (component, composite or S-video) and output video recording presets, including iPod, iPhone, and YouTube. A file name dialog box and recording options complete the options.

Advanced Recording Options

The advanced recording options include: the ability to record video in smaller pieces based on time or file size, an option to stop recording in a set amount of time, plus an option to automatically send recordings to iTunes.

Video Recorder Options


Recording Options


The bottom of the window houses the large red record button, several A/V controls including brightness, contrast, color, and audio, plus a timer, and a drop down menu to select the recording quality. The left side of the window presents a preview of video recorded and includes cropping marks so you can remove blank space around a video clip.

Minor Issues

The one issue I had with the software is the lack of an option for choosing a folder in which to save files. The software always saves recordings to the desktop and this is a hassle when you have set a long video to record in short timed intervals. I sincerely hope this software issue is solved with a future update. The software supports video recording at resolutions up to 720x480, which is sufficient for backing up DVDs but is too low for any HD source. It would be nice if the Video Recorder supported HD signals, but because the device is designed to create digital backups of analog sources, the omission is understandable.

Recommended

My tests found the Video Recorder an effective tool for turning VHS tapes into digital files. The resulting good quality files did not include any audio lag, a major flaw I experienced with other devices in the past. The reliable software never crashed during the recording process. I did find that the USB device became rather warm when working through long recordings, and for this reason, made sure to always keep it in an open environment.

While BlackMagic's Video Recorder offers a simple solution to back up composite, component, and S-Video sources, it could benefit from a few additions. In the future, I would like to see support for HD signals added, even if only at 720p. At first glance the $149 retail price seems a tad high, especially without the higher resolution recording options, but its ease of use and hassle-free recording make the money well-spent when you have a large VHS collection to digitize.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Bradley McBurney


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