VCRs are old technology and first tier companies like Sony cannot afford to make them anymore. If you go to Best Buy, Fry's, etc., most of the VCR's have the controls, displays, etc, located in the same exact places (this includes Sony). I don't mean they're all grouped in the same way according to function. I mean they're located in exactly the same spot. The only thing that is different is the shape of the plastic button and the color of the case. This is because they all use the same oem in China. Yes, the oem builds it to their specs (ie. color and logo).
If you want a good one, look for a used one from the early 1990's on ebay, pawn shops, garage sales, etc. The key feature to look for is the words "Made in Japan" on the back.
Though its hard to find Beta tapes anymore..the old Beta machines tended to be rugged as hell. Needed to clean the heads and replace the belts every 5 yrs or so...shrug
"There is no difference between communism and socialism, except in the means of achieving the same ultimate end: communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism - by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide." - Ayn Rand, from "Foreign Policy Drains U.S. of Main Weapons"
I used to buy all Toshiba equiptment but not anymore. I have had two Toshiba VCR's and a Toshiba TV go bad on me. I can say the TV was 10 years or so old and I had fixed it once before (bad solder joint). I have also had a high dollar Sony VCR fail just out of warrenty and now a nearly new just out of warrenty RCA VCR has quit playing as well. These things must have a timer built into them?? The best VCR I ever had was an RCA from the early 90's (some unknown person borrowed it). Right now I have a Panasonic VCR which seems to be a decent unit, it is 4 head Hi-Fi and it was only 59.00 on sale. It plays as good as any recent VCR I have had although it doesn't record like the high end units. Several years ago I had a guy that was into electronics production/development tell me that most VCR's cost about $20 to produce and bring to the US leaving the difference to what you and I pay as the gross profit that was being made at one time on VCR's and the reason why production moves to the absolute cheapest labor market.
We switched to a ReplayTV unit (aka DVR or PVR, modified for no-subscription) about a year ago. A dramatic improvement over tapes, even without the guide subscription. Depending on the recording quality and the size of the hard drive, they can hold dozens or hundreds of movies. There's lots of online support for adding larger drives etc. You can also build your own from an old computer. This site should will get you started if you're interested in trying the technology
On Sun, 15 Aug 2004 07:09:03 GMT, Ernie Leimkuhler calmly ranted:
When's the last time you lubed it?
Tip: Don't ever buy the bottom-of-the-line electronics box. They'll do that. Spend a few more bucks for a better box and it'll outlast everything but bubble gum in the drive. (I'm a tightwad and learned that lesson early on. Go by value instead of price and you'll be a lot happier.)
I was told (when I researched the subject eons ago) that Matsushita made the highest quality tape transports, so I have stuck with Panasonic/Quasar boxes and replace them every decade whether they need it or not.
My current old Panasonic PV-8450 has a variable speed transport with soft stop which precludes gear breakage.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- The more we gripe, *
longer God makes us live. * Graphic Design - Humorous T-shirts
The BVU-800 machines were much better built, with precision screw adjustments instead of the "bend the sheetmetal tab to achieve tape path alignment" of the BVU-200. And being slightly newer, there's a better chance of finding one that isn't worn out. But you're still stuck with the problem of obtaining tapes for them.
Since the U-Matic format is long obsolete, tapes, when you can find them, are either worn out, or if in new condition, very expensive. If you need a replacement head drum (and you did every 2,000 hours or so), they currently cost over $400 for a rebuilt head (new ones are no longer available).
When we discarded our last U-Matic machines, I considered dragging a couple home for my personal use, but knowing how expensive they have become to feed, I decided that the dumpster was a better place for them.
U-Matic was replaced by Betacam in professional applications. Good quality machines, and quite easily field repairable, but that's almost all gone now too. BVW-40, BVW-70 or BVW-75 machines would be nice additions to a home theatre except that tape stock and replacement heads are also becoming an expensive problem for them.
Professional DV-Cam is the newer tape format. Image quality is very good, but all of the acquisition recorders for that format are very difficult to field service. The mechanical parts are all so small and fragile that it is like working on an old pocket watch. Electronically, they're all high integration surface mount on flexible Mylar circuit "boards".
We've quit trying to component level repair them. We simply replace whole subassemblies. Note that we're currently in the process of phasing out DV-Cam for broadcast video acquisition. In another 5 years, they'll all be gone the way of the U-Matic and the Betacam.
The currently favored technology is direct to disc recording DVRs. TiVo is a packaged consumer example. Grass Valley, Panasonic, Sony, and others make professional versions. Quick TV is a $49 card and software for turning your home computer into a DVR. Works well. I have it here on this machine, as well as having two TiVos in other places in the house.
This is really the way to go today. The current machines are all network capable, so you can tie them together via ethernet and watch video from any of them on any other machine on the network. There are no consumables to replace. Editing is a snap. Etc.
Large hard drives have become cheap commodity items, and they typically last the life of the computer. A 60 Gb hard drive will hold
200 hours of broadcast quality TV. Recording quality of the consumer DVRs is much better than U-Matic, and often equal to professional DV-Cam. For archival purposes, simply burn a DVD. That media has become less expensive than tape, and is considerably more robust.
Tape is very rapidly disappearing from the professional video scene, and rapidly disappearing from the consumer scene too. DVRs are just better, have no consumables, so even the expensive professional models are cheaper long term, and tend to require negligible amounts of maintenance.
I just bought a Sony - DVD and VHS in one box. The unit has progressive ability that means it fixes much of the noise with frames before and after the bad one.
SLVd201p is the model number on one end. Costco IIRC. Tapes that my old box wouldn't read at all run nicely on it. I'm making DVDs from my older tapes as dropouts are beginning to be a trouble on the 25 year old ones and less on younger ones. :-)
Got my wife one for the bedroom at first - physical area problem. Got mine because of the state of the art framing since I use it for DVD source.