Legacybox is the perfect gift for the mom who has everything
Give her the gift of digitized family memories
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How I know that I've reached peak "mom" status: I've been toting around a cardboard box full of old video tapes and family photos for over 10 years. I've moved that cardboard box across the country, across an ocean, and back again, and, until just a few weeks ago, I had no idea what was even inside the box. When I was cleaning out my garage in preparation for moving houses in a few weeks, I finally decided that it was time to deal with my cardboard box of shame.
However, I was stumped. In an almost entirely digital world, how exactly does one go about turning obsolete analog media into watchable content? Enter Legacybox, a company that digitizes old tapes, photos, reels, and audio. I requested a digitizing kit right away, and got ready to relive my youth.
What is Legacybox?
Legacybox takes your outdated analog media and transfers it to a digital format. Whether you've got a basement full of 16mm family movies, or your old mixtapes from high school, you can send them off to Legacybox and they'll digitize them for you.
How much does Legacybox cost?
Legacybox offers several different digitizing kits, and the cost depends on which you select. The least expensive is the two-item Starter ($32.98), followed by the 10-item Family ($149.99), 20-item Closet ($299.99), and 40-item Trunk ($589.99) kits. In addition to the cost of the kit, you'll pay another $39.99 for each type of digital media you want in return: digital download, thumb drive, or DVD set. Legacybox also offers the option for secure, long-term cloud storage for $35.88 per year.
I tried the 20-item Closet kit, and added the digital download, thumb drive, and DVD set.
How does Legacybox work?
Once you place your order, Legacybox sends you a nice big box that contains everything you need to get started. The actual "Legacybox" arrives inside an outer shipping box, which you also use to return your full-of-memories box back to be digitized—and that they then use again to return your media back to you when it's done.
Inside the Legacybox kit are several sheets of barcode stickers, a step-by-step welcome guide, and a pre-paid UPS shipping label. The welcome guide was easy to follow and clearly explained how to use the barcode stickers to label each piece of media that you want the company to digitize. As you barcode each piece of media, you input the name of it into your Legacybox account so that they know how to label what you send in.
Tapes, cassettes, and film reels require one barcode each, whereas slides or photo prints must be packaged into bags of 25 before being labeled. I used small recyclable snack bags for the slides and the photos that I sent in.
Legacybox sends an extra sheet of barcode stickers in case you find that you have more analog media than you planned for, and will invoice you separately for these additional items (I ended up with two extra bags of photos).
Once you've labeled all of your memories, carefully packed them inside the Legacybox kit, and sent them on their way, Legacybox sends you email updates at every step of the process. You'll get a notification when the box reaches their facility, as well as regular communication about any problems they encounter with your media, and how soon you can expect to receive all your digitized files. Once they've finished the whole process, you'll receive an email link to download your files (if you chose that method), and your box full of the original media will arrive a few days later.
What we liked about Legacybox
It's so easy
As a busy working mom who barely has time to shower let alone do stuff like find a place to digitize old VHS tapes of my high school musical career, I really appreciated how easy Legacybox made it to check this off of my to-do list. All total, I think it took me about an hour to go through everything, label it, and drop the box at the UPS store.
If you've been looking for a way to help older parents or grandparents preserve old family movies or photos, this is a great option and one that doesn't require much computer literacy other than ordering the actual kit—especially if you don't opt for digital downloads.
It's a fun trip down memory lane
Since some of the VHS tapes I had in my cardboard box of shame weren't labeled, I honestly wasn't sure what memories I'd been carrying around the world all these years. There were so many fun surprises—A student film I'd totally forgotten about! My fourth grade play about the Gold Rush!—that it felt like I'd uncovered a forgotten treasure. My kids loved watching my star turn as Marty in Grease, and are now telling all of their friends, "my mom is an amazing singer!"
I had a great time sitting with my own mom and looking through all of the pictures that had been on slides and that I'd never had a chance to see before. There were photos from her trip to Peru in the 1970s, and even some pictures of her when she was pregnant with me. As I get older I find old photos so much more precious, and I'm excited that I'll now be able to take the digitized versions and have prints made for my family photo wall.
It makes a great gift
I actually sent my mother-in-law a Legacybox for her birthday last month, because I think it makes an incredible gift for people who don't want any more "stuff"—especially moms. If there's anyone in your life who also has a cardboard box of shame, give them the gift of being able to share memories with future generations. Chances are everyone will get a kick out of it.
What we didn't like about Legacybox
There were a few problems
The email link to my digital downloads never worked, so I had to go into my account via the Legacybox site and download them that way. It wasn't a huge issue, but it did take more effort than just clicking a button in my email. The digital downloads are delivered via Google Drive, so it does take some time to download them or use Zip Extractor to get them on to your computer.
Another problem I encountered was that the thumb drive I received didn't have anything on it. It should've contained all of my photos as well as digital copies of the tapes I sent in, but it was just an empty drive.
When I reached out to the company about getting a replacement, they said that it had been too many weeks since I'd received my order and they didn't have the files any more. While I appreciate that from a privacy standpoint—it's good to know some rando isn't watching my Titania performance in Midsummer Night's Dream—it was annoying that I couldn't get a replacement thumb drive. The customer service is very responsive and cordial, but the only way to solve the issue was to send all of my media back to them and have it all digitized again and I just couldn't deal. So I'll just add it to my own thumb drive someday when I finally have some time (hahahaha).
Digital downloads aren't labeled
My biggest complaint about Legacybox is that they don't label the digital downloads with the name of the project. Obviously, if you don't input the title of the VHS when you add the barcode, they won't know what to call it, but since I assigned titles to most of my media I found this really annoying. I ended up having to download all of the files and watch the first 5 to 10 minutes of them and then assign names to the files once I figured out what they were.
DVDs also feel kind of obsolete
Do people still have DVD players? The only DVD player we have is in our car, so I ended up watching all of the DVDs while sitting in my car with the engine running. Not great for the environment, but highly entertaining for my neighbors, I'm sure.
I can see the appeal of getting DVDs, especially for older people, though it does feel as though in a few years, I'm going to have send these DVDs back to Legacybox to be digitized to whatever the next media delivery system happens to be.
Should you get Legacybox?
If you or your Boomer parents have a cardboard box of shame like I did, Legacybox is the cure. Give the gift of a trip down memory lane and have those old home movies preserved for future generations. Your mom will love it, your kids will love it, and you'll be able to cringe at how bad the fashion was way back in the day.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.