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Author Topic: Video Tape Recorders
Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-23-2001 11:06 PM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think it is my imagination. I just bought a new JVC SVHS HR-S5900U video tape recorder, (my newer recorder crapped out two months after the extended warantee ran out) and the quality of the recordings in ET mode at SP is barely on a par with my ancient Panasonic recorder (regular VHS mono sound) when I record at EP. The next price jump is from the $200 model is to to $1200 for the digital version. I beginning to think I'd do better haunting the flea markets looking for an older model that gives a decent picture.

I am seriously thinking about taking this one back. Anyone have suggestions for a reasonably priced good quality SVHS recorder?

FWIW, the primary problem is notching of semi-vertical lines. Think of stairstepping on steroids and you'll get the idea. The recorder that went bad had a similar problem, but not this bad.


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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 07-23-2001 11:59 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Not knowing your setup and what other types of equipment you are using it will be hard to give you some really good suggestions.

What quality of tapes are you using?
Do you have your vcr near any heat radiating equipment?
Keep a distance from your TV set. THe magnetic field can have an effect on the way the recorder performs.
EP was never ment to give great quality in the picture. It was basicaly only good for everyday recording and not archiving.
What types of cables are you using? Are you using the S-Video cable and if so are you using the one that came with the player. Go out and purchase a S-Video cable by Monster Cable. They are more durable and better shielded than the ones that came with the machine.

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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 12:43 AM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Darryl, to answer your questions,

Sony premium grade tape

This recorder sits near the the top of a six foot stack:
3-D interlace adapter and antenna rotor control.
New SVHS recorder
DTV receiver
DVD player
Tivo
Second recorder
old Radio shack amp used for surround sometimes.
Right Speaker

To the right is all the audio equipment, to the left is my Hitachi 53SBX59B TV 1000 lines horizontal res. and a YC comb filter doubling or tripling apparent vertical res. (I forget which, but "Lawrence of Arabia" looks stunning. A bad VCR really shows as poor quality, where it wouldn't matter on a smaller set.

Cables are mid-grade S video cables rcvr>tivo>recorder>tv

The picture on the set is outstanding (for television), both from satellite/tivo and the DVD player. Picture from the old recorder is very good. Playback on both machines of prerecorded tapes is very good.

The problem is getting a good recording on the new unit. I'm going to try some other brands of tape, but I suspect problems in the recorder itself. I haven't been able to find good VCR comparisons on the net. Epinions shows only about five, and reports on the next model down the JVC line from this one.


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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 07-24-2001 01:10 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Super VHS ET is a gimmick, nothing more. All of my VCRs have it and I never use it. Instead I just pay the extra buck for a REAL SVHS blank tape and get kick ass quality (for SVHS that is).

Ignore the ET mode and try to make sure that it never accidentally gets turned on. If it does and you loan the tape to someone, they are screwed.


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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 01:11 AM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That stair stepping effect can sometimes be caused by a piss poor power supply within the svhs unit. It can also be cause by interferance caused by power line conditions and bad shielding within the cables. Do you have a line conditioner set up for your power strip to plug into. Sometimes this can help. I guess the only way to know for sure is to remove the svhs from your other equipment and try feeding a source to it with it plugged up to it's own power source and see if it still gives you the problem. I am willing to bet it may have a crappy power supply.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 07-24-2001 01:15 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Also, I have had bad luck with JVC VCRs made in the last 5 to 7 years. The last good one they made was the HRS-6700U. The newer ones are made out of plastic and use Fisher Price components inside. My last two JVC SVHS machines exhibited a horizontal line onscreen during playback that looks like a bad tape, but it's not. It's the VCR. An old girlfriend also had a JVC SVHS VCR and it did the same thing. This usually happens after about a year. The power supplies are indeed poor. Stick with Panasonic or Mitsubishi (the latter preferred).


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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 07-24-2001 03:21 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Also, at least the 6700 model machine of which I used to have 3 of (only one of those units is "barely" running anymore) did not record the audio in sync. If I hooked one of them up to any other VCR made by a different manufacturer and copied a tape, the audio would go a bit out of sync with the picture. If that tape was then copied (same direction), the sync looked like the film was dubbed. And of course just for laughs, a further copy was just that...laughably out of sync. Still, it was noticeable just on playing a rental tape.

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 09:42 AM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sadly, it is very difficult to find a good VCR anymore. If you go to a regular store like Circuit City or Best Buy, all of the machines are light as a feather and appear to be slapped together as cheaply as possible. No companies seem to put any effort into making their consumer-grade VCRs any better than anyone else's these days.

I am appalled to see 19 micron heads advertised as if they're a good thing. If you have a pair of 19 micron heads and a pair of wider heads, then the 19 micron pair can be used for EP and the wide pair for SP. Nowadays, since most people don't seem to record in SP because they'd rather record 6 hours of poor quality than 2 hours of better quality. The companies have responded by making some machines with only 19 micron heads. Recording in SP mode on such a deck is pointless, since two thirds of the tape will be blank when you're done, and you'll have practically the exact same area of the tape used for the recorded signal, except instead of the tracks being packed together, they'll have a 39 micron gap (guard band) between them in SP, spreading the same tracks (with maybe a very slight angle change) over the length of the tape rather than one third of it. This makes SP and EP quality become the same (EP quality).

The last good VCR I bought was in 1991. It was a JVC HR-SC1000U SVHS. It still works like new, is very heavily built, and it has all of the controls that VCRs used to have. Both the unit and the remote have the buttons to perform nearly every operation that can be performed, which I really like. Most VCRs built today are barely usable (if usable at all) without a remote. "Power", "Play", and "Stop" are all you're likely to have on modern machines.

If you want a really good machine, it might be worthwhile to check into some of the higher-grade models intended for commercial use. I don't know if they've suffered the same fate as the consumer models.

Of course, I seldom use my VCRs anymore, except when I have Three Stooges Parties. Once you get used to DVD, it is really hard to watch VHS anymore.

------------------
Evans A Criswell
Huntsville-Decatur Movie Theatre Info Site


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Bruce McGee
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1776
From: Asheville, NC USA... Nowhere in Particular.
Registered: Aug 1999


 - posted 07-24-2001 11:55 AM      Profile for Bruce McGee   Email Bruce McGee   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evans:

Until recently, I had a small TV/VCR repair business called INTOWN TV SERVICE. I shut down after TV's got so cheap, and VCR's went out the bottom of the barrel.

Most consumer machines are now made out of plastic/nylon parts, and are designed to last as little time as possible. The new JVC's, SONY's (dont get me started on SONY,) Mitsubishi's, Panasonics are not like they used to be.

When they started putting functions on the remote, and not on the machine, it was the beginning of the end.

Believe it or not, I still get alot of Hitachi-built RCA VCR's from the early-to-late 80's that only need a belt-kit installed to make them run like the wind. Older ones always need the FF/REW idler replaced, too. Now that I am out of business, I only work on the older machines. When a newer one comes in, I usually reject it. They can buy a new one cheaper than I can fix their current one.

Anybody besides me think that the manufacturers are just killing off video recorders now that DVD has come on the bandwagon? When DVD is replaced, think how cheap they will get...

Jerry Chase: is your 53" Hitachi an ULTRAVISION? God, I love those TV's! I'd own one if they were not so expensive right now!

For now, I am going to ride with the TV's that I have. Since NTSC will be gone soon, I will wait and get the HDTV system after the companies get their standards straightened out.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 07-24-2001 12:19 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In my experience, anything made by Sony that contains moving parts will wear out very quickly, since they are all poorly made (no exceptions). However the Sony products that are solid state (no moving parts) seem to work pretty well for the most part. I have a Sony TV that is really good and still works like new. But my friend has a Sony Wega TV that has already crapped out on him. Personally I don't like how small the screens appear on the Wega TVs. The border is so huge is actually makes the screen look tiny.

*Note: I have heard that some people actually call the new Sony TV's "Vega" and not "Wega". If that was the case, wouldn't they have spelled it with a "V" instead of a "W"? If it is a "V" and not a "W", is that supposed to indicate double vision or bad convergence?


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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 12:31 PM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yep. It is an Ultravision. The only rear screen projection that I've seen beat it is the 62 inch model, which is too big for the room.

HOWEVER... the Ultravision has two on-board tuners that are _not_ properly shielded. If you use both tuners, you get diagonal banding from interference. This is not just a problem with my set, I had the store replace the first one that did it, and confirmed the problem with Hitachi tech support. Since I pump the RF into the Tivo box, I don't worry about it anymore. I guess if I still used the picture in picture feature it would bother me. My other big gripe is that f___ing childproof screen that has an obscene amount of glare. You almost have to sit in a dark room and paint your face black to avoid it. As soon as the warantee is over, that puppy is going into the trash. The first Ultravison I had didn't have the screen and was MUCH easier to watch. Like all Ultravisions of that vintage, it went through a complete set of caps, then died a year later from an overdose of all the crap on tv.

You guys are confirming my thoughts, that VHS is being downgraded on purpose to promote sales of DVD. My hope is that some hackers are able to take the tivo box and figure a way to off-store the data on a removable media without image degradation. I'm not sure what I'm going to do short term, other than try more better tapes.

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 04:01 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I too used to work in television repair -- in the days when you diagnosed a problem with eyes, ears, nose, scope, and meter. You replaced individual components, and didn't just swap boards and modules.

It pains me to find it's cheaper to toss a VCR in the trash than repair it. Likewise, I have outlived 9 computers and numerous peripherals, whose carcasses probably now reside in landfills because even charities didn't want them. The "planned obsolescence" of today's electronic gear should distress any environmentalist.

------------------
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Eastman Kodak Company
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7419
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: 716-477-5325 Cell: 716-781-4036 Fax: 716-722-7243
E-Mail: john.pytlak@kodak.com
Web site: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion


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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 04:15 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Note: I have heard that some people actually call the new Sony TV's "Vega" and not "Wega". If that was the case, wouldn't they have spelled it with a "V" instead of a "W"? If it is a "V" and not a "W", is that supposed to indicate double vision or bad convergeance?

Bad convergence. Most Sony "Vega" or "Wega" (whatever) TVs I've seen have rather bad color convergence at the corners. Most sets do have their worst color convergence at corners, but the problem diminishes away from the corners. My Sony XBR (bought in 1993) has excellent convergence except within a couple of inches of the corners. Several of my friends have bought Wegas (or Vegas) in the past year and I am appalled by the convergence I've seen. One of my friends sets is so far off that when a dot test pattern is displayed, in one corner, one of the colors makes a totally separate dot. The bad convergence is noticeable a good 6 inches from the corners. That's just plain ridiculous.

I believe that VCRs are being cheapened not just because of DVD, but because people are so apathetic these days when it comes to quality. In fact, VCRs began being cheapened long before DVD came out. Unless people start refusing to buy the newer, cheaply made VCRs that are easily outperformed by models of 15 years ago, the companies will keep cheapening them. When it comes to home electronics, most people want something cheap as they can get it, even if it of poor quality. Customers bought the VCRs when featueres were removed from the front panel and were only accessible from the remote. People bought them when they were cheapened. If people had not bought those units when the companies started doing that, then all VCRs today would have all the features on both the remote and the unit, and would be built in a quality manner, and I'll bet they wouldn't cost too terribly much more than they do today as things evolved.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-24-2001 09:43 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Evans got it. People don't care about quality. Almost as bad is the fact that they don't know the difference between a quality machine and a cheap one. For the last decade or so, VCRs have been pretty much a commodity item. The main differentiating factor has been price. If someone is given the option of buying a $99 VCR or a $199 VCR and doesn't know why (or if) the $199 model is more than twice as good, he'll obviously just buy the cheaper model, even if it lasts less than half as long and provides inferior picture quality.

I guess the implicit assumption here seems to be that anyone who is buying a VHS VCR doesn't really care about quality anyway. This is probably true for the most part, but there is so much material that is available only in the VHS format that even those who do care about quality will still want to own a machine, and it is sad that no one seems to be catering to that market (excluding professional machines costing thousands).

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Jesse Skeen
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1498
From: Sacramento, CA
Registered: Aug 2000


 - posted 07-24-2001 11:53 PM      Profile for Jesse Skeen   Email Jesse Skeen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have 2 VHS machines, both are over 10 years old. One is a Zenith manufactured by JVC that I won from an MTV contest in 1987 (along with 50 music video tapes which I also still have, and some Bose speakers which I gave to my dad) which has only been to the shop once in its life to be cleaned and still works as good as it did when it was new- of course it doesn't get nearly as much use these days as it used to, but that still says something. My other is a NEC, which I got used so I don't know how old it is but it's one of the few models which has both Hi-fi AND the older linear stereo system with Dolby noise-reduction so I can play older tapes in stereo- most Hi-Fi machines will only play the linear tracks in mono as my Zenith does. It has had its ups and downs but I find it worth taking to get fixed more than I do buying a new VCR. I don't think there's a single new machine out there I'd be happy with; when I put a tape in I still go straight for the tracking control, so I don't want a machine that doesn't have one!
I've got a Sony SuperBeta Hi-Fi deck too, which I got used, that works well though it gets little use. The oldest Beta tape I have was recorded in 1977, the oldest VHS I have is from 1979. I want to put all the old commercials I have onto a recordable DVD once that becomes practical.

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