I was trying to transfer my VHSes to DVD the manual, digitize and burn way, because I’m a control freak, and I want nice DVDs with pretty menus and edited-out commercials. But, I finally got one of the Panasonic combo VHS/DVD decks, and it does a great job. Sure the menus aren’t as pretty, but at least they’re digital, and if I ever want to go back and make pretty DVDs, it’s pretty easy to rip, edit and re-burn on my Mac.
If you want to get it done fast, a combo deck is the way to go. The Pannys even let you specify how long to record for, and then it will auto-stop and finalize the disc for you—so you can go do something productive while it dubs.
You should check out my podcast about movie magic and VFX: The Optical.