21st Sep 2003

What type of vcr do you want?

Since most rental videos are in VHS format, nearly all VCRs sold today are VHS. Other types like 8 mm and S-VHS are used with camcorders that have the same format. There is one Beta Model still being made, but it can be hard to locate; and pre-recorded Beta cassettes are becoming tough to find too. Specialized VCRs include TV/VCR combos and dual-deck models for copying one tape to another. Digital VCRs are relatively new on the market and are good for recording high-definition broadcasts. Here’s a breakdown on each.

1. VHS: VHS (video home system) is the most common type of VCR. Standard VHS tapes are what you rent at a video store. Other, more specialized VHS machines include compact VCRs for camcorders (VHS-C) and high-resolution (S-VHS) models. Standard VHS players are also built into TV/VCR combos. These are tested, trusted and affordable. You can watch movies from any rental shop, and record off the air from a TV. However, the picture on your TV is only as good as the tape you are playing, and picture quality produced by VHS tapes is at the lower end of the spectrum.

2. Digital VCRs: Digital VCRs come in the VHS format (called D-VHS), but are specialized for recording high-resolution digital images off the air, specifically, from satellite TV, digital cable and digital broadcast TV. They have the sharpest picture money can buy from a VCR and there is no loss of resolution from the original to the copy but digital broadcasting is still relatively rare.

3. 8 mm/Hi8: Very rare, used primarily to edit miniature 8 mm or Hi8 camcorder tapes. Filmmakers can edit their own movies with these.

4. Beta: Sony produces the only model available. Filmmakers can also edit their own movies these. Although, they are rapidly becoming obsolete. Pre-recorded movies in this format are scarce, and many machines lack tuners, so they cannot record from the TV.

5. TV/VCR combos: These VCRs come packaged with televisions in single units. There are no wires to connect, and the TV and VCR share a single remote. However, you cannot simultaneously record a program on one channel while watching another, and although TV/VCR combos have become increasingly reliable, if one component breaks down, then you have to get the whole thing fixed.

6. Dual-deck VCRs: These come with either two VHS decks or a VHS and 8-mm deck, so you can record or play from either deck or copy tapes from one deck to the other. They are mostly used for editing and copying tapes or for transferring tapes from one format to another and they also has the ability to tape two different shows at the same time.

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