Someone wrote to me a while back asking for advice on a better capture device than the one they currently tried. When they told me the name of the device, I thought it sounded familiar. I already had one ordered that was going to be used for both Mac and PC review. So here is that DIGITNOW! BR117 for PC review.
If there is one thing DIGITNOW! does great is the packaging. They go above and beyond giving extras to make sure the device will work for you flawlessly.
Well, flawlessly might be too enthusiastic a word.
There is a let down with this device and that’s with the software. I know Digitnow! don’t make the software, but sheesh, the software supplied here is old and fails.
Last update on 2024-02-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I think if they really wanted to upgrade this device, they should definitely change the choice of capture software supplied. That being said, you don’t need their software to make this work. I managed to make it work (better) using the Magix video editor.
A Closer Inspection
The BR117 kind of reminds me of the Diamond VC500. I like the fact it has an extended USB cable so the device isn’t relying on gravity to not fall out of USB slots. That only applies if you’re using a PC I would assume.
It has a durable plastic casing that can take any rough treatment and a design that appears to have a button for taking still shots. It doesn’t. It’s just there for cosmetic appearance only.
The composite connection consists of Yellow for video and Red/White for left and right audio.
There is the S-Video connection as well if your VCR allows for that.
Along the other end there is the USB 2.0 connection that extends for approximately 80cm in length.
What’s In The Box?
As I mentioned earlier Digitnow! supplies a lot into their products. Considering how cheap the product is, you do get value.
Unlike some recent capture products I got (which arrived in a plastic bag), the BR117 comes packaged neatly in a box.
The instruction guide covers the software and installation process in five languages (English, German, Spanish, Italian, French).
The software is the VHS to DVD 3.0 SE. The product code is along the back of the CD case. There is also a driver for the Mac, but no actual capture software.
You are supplied male to male composite cables.
As an added bonus there is a scart connection, which covers for people across Europe.
I actually like this because I’ve imported a VCR from the Netherlands, so it actually comes in handy. From what I’ve been seeing some of the best PAL VCRs I can only get from Europe.
The adapter has the option for input or output.
BR117 Connection & VHS to DVD 3.0
Something of interest, apart from the software supplied, there is a link to an update/software called Master AVCapture. It did take a while to download – for a 178MB file, but it actually has both Mac and PC drivers inside.
I was a bit dubious at first thinking I was just downloading OBS Studio renamed – (ezcap has a habit of doing that).
It is mainly ArcSoft Showbiz 3.5 software as an alternative to use plus drivers in the zip file.
Great! Except not great!
Arcsoft Showbiz 3.5 still asks for a product serial, which certainly doesn’t match Honestech’s VHS to DVD 3.0 serial number. So why supply different software that consumers are going to need to contact you anyway to get a serial for?
Just weird if you ask me. They do supply a Mac type of capture software called Master AVCap , so that’s a bonus I guess.
Connection is very easy, all that we doing is plugging in the matching colors from the VCR into the BR117.
So now I get to the Honestech VHS to DVD 3.0 software. I’m not going to go into the installation of it as you can find that here.
This software certainly isn’t the greatest. Is there worse? Yes, but this comes second.
I’ve had this issue before, where the video will capture but nothing appears on the screen, thus having you doubt whether the whole thing is capturing at all. Look at this example, the video is showing on the desktop as it’s been recorded and yet there’s no picture showing.
While it’s easy to blame, wrong settings/drivers/Windows 10/old computer – anything that’s human error, could there also be the chance that this VHS to DVD version 3 software is crap?
The updated zip file has completely different software , so that’s got to be saying something about the faith Digitnow! has in this.
After completing a test for approximately 10 minutes, the video appears on the right hand side up in its MPEG format.
From here I could simply edit the video or or burn it to a DVD.
When I capture through Magix Video Editor, I’m able to get the picture to play straight away. I can configure the driver properties and edit the sound levels without wondering if the video will record. The quality of the capture through an editor always looks better in my opinion.
I know I’m always using Magix as an example but it’s such a reliable piece of software that I’m happy with the recording from it whilst comparing it to other softwares.
DIGITNOW! BR117 For PC Results
The result sample images are from VLC Player, so this isn’t during the capture, this is after the video has been captured.
No wonder it didn’t want to show me the picture quality!
I’ve got to tell you straight off, the VHS to DVD honestech software is garbage. Never Mind the contrast, there are visible lines that appear vertically and horizontally. These are quality issues you cannot alter in the software, instead you are left with Good, Better, Best options to toggle in the settings.
By the way, the image above is on the best quality settings.
Would it record better from ArcSoft ShowBiz 3.5? Yes, I think it would, I just haven’t tested that combination.
The video test below shows the Honestech transfer verses Magix.
You can see what I’m referring with the quality issues.
If you’re willing to use the Digitnow! BR117 with other software like OBS Studio, or an actual editor that can import analogue videos, then you won’t have issues. The device certainly captures video without any problems, you just got to choose that software.
For it’s cheap price, the BR117 definitely has a lot value. Digitnow! have supplied extra composite cables and a scart adapter to ensure the device can capture from most VCRs. Download the latest free OBS Studio and capture through that instead of the supplied software and you should be good to go.
The guy I mentioned at the start of this article who sent the email, yeah he hated it. I don’t, I just think there is a better work around for it.