What video format should I use for converted HVS tapes and WDTV HD?


I will be converting my VHS tapes to a digital format and was wondering what would be the best format to use and compatible with the WDTV HD unit ?

Thanks :smiley:


IMHO the mkv container is the absolute best container, and H264 with AC3 audio the best video and audio codecs.


Thanks. I will have to brush up on this “container” stuff ! It’s been a while. I guess with modern harware encoders these format must be standard ? So far most hardware transcoders are very expensive.

I need to figure out an affordable way to convert my VHS tapes to the container you are proposing.



You’re probably already familiar with containers – AVI is a container, so is MP4.  It’s just a file structure that can hold audio and video streams in various formats.

MKV is an open source container that is rapidly replacing AVI (thank goodness!) and the Live really likes it.  But just because it likes the container doesn’t mean it likes all that can be put into it (kind of like wrapping a Christmas present – the present may not be nice :>).  So you want to make sure you use video and audio codecs (compression and decompression routines) that make it happy.  H264 is the de facto standard nowadays for video.  Audio can be a whole lot of things but AC3 offers good compression and standard playback on nearly all devices.

Getting a decent video card that can capture is about the best way to transfer your video.  You don’t have to pay a lot to get this capability, particularly since you are capturing in a rather low res format (VHS video is about the end of the totem pole when it comes to resolution, with only web video being lower).  You should be able to get something that will do the trick for $100 or less, but read the reviews and make sure it will work for you before you buy it (or buy it from somewhere you can return it – this is probably real good advice, since not everything is compatible with all computers).

After you capture the video (and edit it, if you like) then there are all kinds of free ways to change it into a format the Live will like ffmpeg (freeware) is the holy grail of conversion software, but if you want to compress your video (and you probably do) then freeware like Handbrake can hardly be beat.  Handbrake will do all the hard work for you – just feed it a file and change it to the High Preset and container type to MKV and the Live will eat it up.

Good luck – it’s actually a fun project (although I’m glad my days of converting my 100’s of VHS tapes is long past :>)


Thanks for all the great info. :wink: