if you do not know anyone who can do hand holding with you.
as for writer, all models mad by Liteon, LG, Sony, NEC, Samsung and Pioneer great. The current favours are NEC 3500A, Pioneer DVR-108 , both cost less than £50. good supplier svp click here
If you do not have Firewire (IEEE1394/ILink) port in your PC, you need a direwire card which can take footage from tapes