Recommended VCR for digital conversions?

Hi folks,

I've been set up for a while with equipment to digitize VHS tapes by way of a capture box. I've had 2 VCRs in collection for some time saved explicitly for this purpose. A cheap one from a thrift store that I'm surprised worked at all, and what I thought was an expensive one. Yesterday I pulled out the cheap one to capture some tapes my sister brought me, and discovered that sometime in the past 6 months it just died on me(no idea, was working last time I packed it away, go figure).

After spending the morning tearing apart my garage, I found my allegedly "expensive" VCR which I had carefully packed away for just such an occasion. It is a Go Video GV3070X, a dual-deck VCR with a lot of neat features. Now, back in the year 2000 or so I remember seeing this thing listed in a catalog for $500, so I had sincerely thought it was a very high-quality product(normal VCRs of around the same vintage were not $250+). I recall being extremely excited when I found it at a garage sale for $5 and very lovingly packed it away wrapped in plastic and packing peanuts when I put it away in the garage some 15 years ago. After spending the day capturing at less than ideal(varying all the way to "crappy") quality, I discovered one of the decks is in horrible condition.

So, before I dump a bunch of money into getting this thing serviced/repaired, I want to know: is it worth it? Is this a quality product worth repairing, or would I be better off putting the money towards a higher quality single-deck VCR? I don't do much of this sort of capturing so one way or the other my price-ceiling tops out at about $150. I'd really love to find an old broadcast-grade VCR but sincerely doubt I can touch one for that price. I've also heard(from this forum, in fact) that SVHS would be better, but I'm also not dealing with SVHS source so not sure its worth it.

Anyway, any advice is much appreciated.
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Jvc did an SVHS deck with built in video stabiliser and image enhancer. These are the holy grail for vhs enthusiasts as they offer an excellent picture and better quality output.

A friend of mine bought one to copy tapes to DVD as a sideline during the pandemic and he's never looked back. He says the image quality is superb and far better than he was getting previously with his older machines

SVHS will give better results with vhs as the increased frequency response from the circuitry will extract more detail from the tapes.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
For digitising analogue tapes the DVD Recorder is hard to beat, but increasingly Manufacturers are stopping production - as there are so many TV Channels with "old movies" and Documentaries - so only personal tapes ( school plays and the like) are likely to be "lost forever" once VCRs ( as well), are no-longer available.

Cable-TVs now allow folk to "save" programmes and Films and whilst it is NOT the SAME as having one on a DVD.... over time Home-DVD do fail to Play . . . So I guess having made the DVD you should copy it to a HDD to be sure.... although the file-formats are determined to prevent this.... It would seem.

There are VCR/SCART-to-PC adaptors advertised, but one is suspicious the quality of conversion will be below that of the DVD-Recorder. I've had zero success with Panasonic DVD Recorders owned by friends - the User Guides creating nothing but frustration.
I own two Sony DVD Recorders which look almost identical ( one purchased s/h with its remote), The s/h one "Menu" is a nightmare and I've never got a recorded DVD from it... the other is a joy... although nowadays the disc-part doesn't like some Brands of Blanks - and will exit without a good copy.... Its Timer is also now, somewhat forgetful...

However, when recording from External sources ( e.g. VCR ), the ability to "Edit" means the DVD contains mostly useful stuff - and in the correct Order.
But as mentioned above.... home-DVDs are not 100% Long-Term reliable IMHO.... so you need to Copy to HDD - which is yet another difficult task.
By contrast the VCR/VHS tape was "almost" indestructible... but now we have Digital, we can see the image Quality wasn't that good.... but may have been a Sensor issue, along with the analogue recording process...

I recall one bright company tried to use VHS as an external saver for PC's - presumably saved as a tone using FM.... but the data-rate would have been limited. I don't know if it used the video "frames" - or the continuous mono Audio track ( easier to work IMHO.). However, as HDDs became Higher capacity + More reliable, the VHS "solution" wasn't developed ..... as finding your place would be a nightmare in itself.

Good luck with your old tapes-to-digital...
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
I recall one bright company tried to use VHS as an external saver for PC's - presumably saved as a tone using FM.... but the data-rate would have been limited. I don't know if it used the video "frames" - or the continuous mono Audio track ( easier to work IMHO.). However, as HDDs became Higher capacity + More reliable, the VHS "solution" wasn't developed ..... as finding your place would be a nightmare in itself.
Using tape for data backup is still very common. Up to 30TB can be stored on 1 tape and speeds of up to 750 MBps is quite possible.

Access is normally linear, but once the initial table is read, it's relatively simple to fast forward to the required section of the tape and recall down to a file level.

Using VHS never really took off as better, smaller formats using derivatives of DAT and 8MM tapes were available. Archival time of 25 - 50 years is normally quoted.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
There are VCR/SCART-to-PC adaptors advertised, but one is suspicious the quality of conversion will be below that of the DVD-Recorder. I've had zero success with Panasonic DVD Recorders owned by friends - the User Guides creating nothing but frustration.

But as mentioned above.... home-DVDs are not 100% Long-Term reliable IMHO.... so you need to Copy to HDD - which is yet another difficult task.
With Panasonic I did originally get a couple of coasters but switched to DVD-R and made sure finalise recording was enabled and working fine after that.

As for conversion to PC from DVD, plenty of threads on here with simple apps that can do it with just one to two clicks.
 

TechiMan

Active Member
JVC HRS 7700 is the UK version. Not sure what it was called in the States.

That Panasonic combi is the same model I'm currently using now to capture tapes to my laptop (though the DVD player doesn't work). I had previously been using a Sony (can't remember the model) VHS before it went wrong (no idea what, but I've heard on here that it was due to a capacitor) and it did a decent job but it didn't do well at tracking really jumpy videos. However, the Panasonic combi I've started to use seems to do a far better job at tracking. I have heard though that combi recorders arent very good and that it's best to have separate DVD and VHS recorders. I did once have another identical combi, but that stopped working years ago, I think brand new my dad paid about £250, so I think 227 quid for a second hand one is OTT IMO. I paid £150 two years ago for a refurbished and (supposedly) serviced Sanyo VTC500 (one of the best Betamax videos that were made) off ebay, and within about a week of using it it stopped working, it still powers up but none of the buttons work. I should've emailed the seller and got a refund but by then it was too late. At the moment it's just sitting in a cupboard, but it is in immaculate condition.
 

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