/ Technology

Formats aren’t forever: what will happen to your disc collection?

James Bond boxset

There’s an air of inevitability about format changes – a consequence of rapidly evolving technology designed to enrich our lives. But how would you feel if items you’d paid for were suddenly rendered obsolete?

For Richard, this is a real worry. ‘Discs are finished,’ he tells me matter-of-factly, ‘looking at how things are developing there’s just no place for them in the future – they’re unnecessary’.

The problem is that Richard, a film blogger and British Film Institute member, has a DVD collection that he estimates to be worth in the region of £5-10k.

Say farewell to discs

New laptop models are being manufactured without DVD/CD drives, while downloads and streaming are growing in popularity – it all marks the beginning of a slow phase-out for media in disc form.

I can’t help but draw comparisons to the rather sudden change-over from VHS to DVD, probably due to the fact that his James Bond collection still adorns the shelves. From 1962’s Dr No, up until 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, that is.

‘Post-2000, continuing to buy the Bonds on video would have been ridiculous, and later, impossible,’ he says. ‘I leave those ones on display because I’m quite proud of that collection, but they’re useless now aren’t they? Dust collectors’.

Copying CDs and DVDs

While the total exclusion of the disc is surely some years off, I still wonder whether it should be easier to safe-guard your media from becoming nothing but spectres that haunt the attics of the future – losing their value entirely.

The good news is that the law was modernised last year to allow you to make personal copies of your media, whether that’s a CD or DVD. However, ripping a DVD isn’t a straightforward process and they often have copy protection that was added by the film studios. This would also involve months of manual work for someone like Richard.

It could be argued that the media is still playable – but if there’s eventually no hardware to support it, then it’s as useful as a 3½” floppy disc. While you certainly can’t legislate for upgrades and improvements (I wouldn’t expect to be given the latest version of my car every year!), do you think entertainment creators could do more?

It’s not uncommon for the latest Blu-ray discs to be accompanied by a digital download, which is a positive step. But for the millions of discs already purchased, what’s to stop them from joining the technology of yester-year on the scrap heap?

Do you think it’s fair that you often have to pay again for the same media in a new format just so you can continue to enjoy it? Have you ever bought a CD/digital copy of a vinyl album you’d already paid for? A download of a DVD you already own? Or a DVD of a VHS you once paid in excess of £10 for?

I know I have, I’m just not quite sure whether I should have had to.

Richard says:
22 April 2015

interesting .I see a lot of new record players for sale. Also 60% increase in vinyl sales last year. So my vinyl record collection not defunct yet. I think cd’s and dvd’s will be around for sometime yet.

Lynn C says:
22 April 2015

God Im so sick of technology manufacturers phasing out things and the whole system forcing us to buy something completely new, computers, TV’s, Mobile phones, cassette tapes, video tapes, CDs, DVDs……..and so on and so on! Its scandalous!

If we all felt that way we would be listening to music on wax cylinders, carrying around mobile phones the size of bricks and making use of the computing power of the Sinclair ZX80.

Provided that you avoid the less successful formats such as Betamax video tapes, Elcaset audio tapes, 12 inch video disks, 3 inch floppy discs and the like, the changes are not that frequent and offer substantial benefits.

The commentary about recording CDs and DVDs happened about 3 years ago!
My question: How to record VHS tapes to store on my Windows 10 machine? I may burn DVDs as a result.
Grateful for any and all assists.

This comment was removed at the request of the user


As Duncan said you’ll need a video capture device (e.g. a usb dongle or pc card) plus compatible software.

I use an old Avery Media TV card and some old Cyberlink Media Suite software, all running on XP. I’ve not needed to use anything more modern than that.

The hardware and software allow the PC to be used as a digital video recorder, with the VHS player serving as an analogue video source.

Once the incoming video has been digitised, it is possible to edit it and save it in DVD format.

Duncan, Thank you to you and to DerekP for your comments. That looks very helpful. I’m not fazed by the Microsoft only warnings issued by MS. After all, I have used LibreOffice on this W10 machine, updating it several times, and have installed other non MS software. The Redmond attitude reminds me of Creon in Sophocles’ Antigone. Not new. I’ve discovered a Scart to HDMI cable, 15cm max, in the box of cables we each seem to have now, but it will probably be redundant when I make the purchase! Thank you both, again. W