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Poll: Do you still own a VCR?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 15, 2010 5:31 AM PST

Do you still own a VCR?

-- Yes, and I still use it quite often. (For what, videos?)
-- Yes, but I rarely use it. (For what, videos?)
-- Yes, but I don't use it. (So why do you still have it?)
-- Yes, but only kept for nostalgic reasons.
-- No. (When did you get rid of it, or have you ever owned one?)
-- What's a VCR?

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I still have a VCR and I still use it
by Dan Filice / January 15, 2010 5:44 AM PST

I rarely use my VCR, but I have one Combo DVD/VCR unit in the bedroom to playback old tapes and to record TV shows for later viewing. Why not use a DVR you ask? Because I rarely do shift-viewing and the lousy quality of a VCR is fine if I only want to watch a TV show later and it saves me $$. Also, I use the VCR to record TV programs that I can burn to DVD for later viewing too (yes, I know...lousy quality), and I have a VCR permanently connected to my Mac specifically to ingest tapes to burn discs. Recording programs from a DVR into my computer is not convenient, so I choose to do the lousy quality route for now.

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I do it th' easy way,....
by Windsor347 / January 15, 2010 7:30 PM PST

Video cassettes,...cassette audio tapes, even,... have gone th' way of th' dinosaur. It's a shame too, because there is nothing "wrong" or "poor quality" about analogue, magnetic tape recording, provided it's done on good tape, with good equipment and a little common sense. As for converting video cassettes to digital video discs, I use a machine built to do exactly that made by Magnavox. (Model #ZV420MW8) It has a VCR and a DVD+RW/+R in one unit (stereo audio, of course). Actually, CAN use it to do th' "un-thinkable", which would be to record a video cassette from a CD or TV broadcast. (My 90 year old mother doesn't have a DVD set up, so I can still record current movies for her to watch on her VCR.) When VCRs first came to market, I soon found out that yes, you COULD record 6 hrs. of material on one cassette, but that's where th' quality went fishin'. THIS IS TH' IMPORTANT PART TO REMEMBER! When I DO record VIDEO material to a video cassette, I record anything I want to KEEP on high speed which reduces th' amount of material processed to two hours, but at a much more acceptable quality level. I also use the higher quality, more expensive tapes, because th' materials and assembly techniques used to make these tapes AND cases are superior to th' less expensive alternatives.
For you audiophiles, when you see audio material for sale in a "digitally re-mastered" format, that's exactly what it says it is. Not only do "they" convert th' original audio analogue signal to digital, but the recording is often tinkered with as far as sound engineering goes. That is to say, the original audio settings for th' analogue recordings are sometimes "tweaked" to suit th' ear of th' engineer converting th' taped material to digital. A case in point would be ZZ Top's 1st and 2nd albums.
I also discovered that tape speed didn't matter much for audio recording to a VIDEO cassette. My guess there is that th' tape and recording heads are so much bigger for video cassettes than audio cassettes. So,...although it's not th' "hot set-up" for your car, you CAN put 6 hrs. of nothing but AUDIO material on a VIDEO cassette with excellent results. (Great for parties, BBQs, etc.) My favored way to preserve th' integrity of original releases (as recently as 15 years ago generally, and even now occaisionally, as available) is to buy th' VINYL LP version, play it ONCE on a GOOD turntable,(mine has a limited speed adjustment with a strobe stripe, so it will spin at EXACTLY 33&1/3 RPM, which you can even tune a guitar to) in order to record it to audio tape or CD. I then use th' home-made audio cassettes or CDs to listen to, thus saving th' LP from wear. Not only can you re-record something you lost or otherwise destroyed from an "only played once" LP, but you get all of th' cover art an' other assorted printed material with th' LPs that doesn't come with a factory recorded cassette or CD, not to mention th' generally cheaper quality tapes, CDs and cases used by th' recording companies. (Bigger bang for th' buck, th' way I do it, I think.) Tape feed speed isn't adjustable for audio cassettes, but that's where th' better quality materials shine. Some audio cassette plaers/recorders have an adjustable azimuth that you can access, so you can land or "line up" th' play-back head with th' recording. Most VCRs have this adjustment control labeled "tuning" on their control panels. Just some thoughts.
~347Windsor (Can y'tell I'm a hot-rodder?)

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VCR tape & Audio Tape
by bobber135 / January 16, 2010 2:12 AM PST

I have to disagree that it is a shame that video & audio tape have gone the way of the dinosaur. The problem with both is that if there is a specific portion of the tape you wish to view, you have to stop start through out in order to find what you are looking for. A royal pain! Also, time takes it's toll on tape and the tape dries out allowing for easy breakage which leads to either tossing the tape or, like me, trying to splice it back together, another royal pain. And even if the splice is good there is always a glitch of some sort at that spot. No, give me a cd or DVD any day of the week. And I DO still have HUNDREDS of audio and video tapes stored in boxes. I can't wait to start converting them and tossing the bulky things out the door. Compare the room six DVD's take up as opposed to six video tapes!

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Archival copies
by rbsjrx / January 16, 2010 1:36 PM PST
In reply to: VCR tape & Audio Tape

All popular media have some sort of limitation. Tapes are subject to oxide loss/flaking and mold, even if the Mylar lasts without getting too brittle. Optical recordable media are only guaranteed good for about 10 years.

Only pressed media (vinyl records or commercial non-recordable DVDs) can be generally regarded as of archival quality.

Digital recordable media are arguably the most dangerous since they will appear pristine until the day when they fail catastrophically. Hard rives fail (or crash!), flash drives can lose their memory, and optical drives can degrade over time. And each will mask its degradation by the use of error correcting codes embedded in the media. At least analog technologies clearly show their age, giving you the opportunity for remediation.

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(NT) Dumped VHS about 8 years ago
by givemeaname / January 15, 2010 6:12 AM PST
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Not since 1998. I only used to to play rented movies anyway
by minimalist / January 15, 2010 6:31 AM PST

So once I got my first DVD player the VCR went in the closet. I can't imagine pulling it out ever again now that we all have such large TV's. It would look pretty horrible.

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Yes I do
by volvogirl / January 15, 2010 7:22 AM PST

Have one on all 3 TVs. I have taped a lot of movies and tv shows myself since they first came out and bought a lot of retail movies. It's fun to watch the old commercials! Just got a DVD recorder and will start putting my tapes on dvds. My excel list is like 10 pages single spaced. I hope my vcr doesn't break.

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Nope, no VCR here
by Peridot180 / January 15, 2010 9:17 AM PST

I actually just finished donating and getting rid of all of my VHS tapes a few days ago. I just have no need for them anymore. We got rid of the VCR a few months ago. My brother used it to record a select few shows off of TV, but then just gave up. Plus, you can't use a normal VCR to record digital TV shows (we have no DVR), so we figured there was no point in keeping it. VCRs were nice in the past when there was nothing else, but since DVDs came out, I have no use for them.

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Use a "Normal VCR" to Record Digital Broadcast
by ruko / January 16, 2010 3:12 AM PST
In reply to: Nope, no VCR here

You can use a normal VCR for recording digital over the air broadcasts. Remember those digital to analog converter boxes our government gave us 40 dollars for? Just run the signal through one of those converter boxes into the analog VCR. Remember to set the VCR to record channel 3 or 4 which is the output of the box.

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Yes I have 3;
by ahtoi / January 15, 2010 9:19 AM PST

The main function for its use is as tuner for the dvd recorder (I have cable). Right now only one is being use but I just don't want to throw the other away (who knows when I will need them) or...someone might offer me lots of money for them, hehe.

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by taz3261 / January 15, 2010 9:34 AM PST

I donated it to salvation army haven't used it for years. I also have a dvd/vcr combo I gave it to my girlfriend who is starting out and get her own place...with blu rays I don't see the purpose of having one with HD tvs!!!

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VCR- using it every day ( am I a dinosaur ?)
by visconteuno / January 15, 2010 9:59 AM PST

Yes , I am recording on one of my VCRs every day . I dread the day
when they cut analogue TV and I have to buy DVD recorders instead.
I would like to transfer some good shows from tapes to dvd using the computer . I bought a "Kaiserbaas-Video to DVD Maker" but the software is atrocious plus I cannot find decent softwares (Tape-to-DVD)for Ubuntu and Mandriva

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by massenagreen / January 15, 2010 3:24 PM PST

I too love my VCR and also use it daily, especially when I want to watch two shows on at the same time. I tape one and watch the other but I know that VCR's will no longer be of any use to me when full digital TV is all that is available in Australia. I am not looking forward to that at all but no doubt will cope with the new method of recording programs.

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Poll: Do you still own a VCR?
by erdenton / January 15, 2010 10:28 AM PST

Mine is a combo player/recorder (GoVideo) that will record, play or copy a DVD or VHS to either media. Have done many copies of old VHS tapes, family movies and such and transfered to DVD, newer media. Not going to give it up as long as it lives.

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by sirpaul1 / January 15, 2010 10:34 AM PST

I don't use mine for video anymore. I use it for recording music. 6-8 hours of non-compressed music. You can't beat it.

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by Ron Geiken / January 15, 2010 10:35 AM PST

I had 4 SVHS VCRs over 5 years ago, but eventually moved over to DVD recorders, and the ones that I bought 4 of, LITE ON, also had a 150 gig hard drive which I used over 95% of the time. I still have them hooked up, but only rarely use them, since I have a Scientific Atlanta HD DVR which has the ability to record 2 shows while you can also watch one. That has worked out great for me. The old analog DVRs could only record one show, and you couldn't use it to view something on when recording. In the 1990s, I also had some standard VHS recorders. I just keep moving along to follow the technology. None of my previous recorders could record HDTV, so they are not of much use at present, since HD is the only TV format that I currently view on my 71" Samsung TV.

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do you still own a vcr?
by joe man / January 15, 2010 10:35 AM PST

have got three for all of my televisions.New Zealand is just starting to experience the tivo/PVR phenomenon so there is still a reliance on disc/tape based recording.The problem is dvd recorders are still mind numbingly expensive ,400 to 2000$ still being the norm here.From what i have seen the quality is not that good either particularly if you want to record a sporting event per se, in a lower grade format so i will stick with my my trusty old beasts for the meantime Happy

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by porsche10x / January 16, 2010 6:15 AM PST

$400 to 2000$??? How can that possibly be? I just searched for "DVD recorder" at The most expensive stand-alone recorder was a little over $200. The cheaper ones were under a hundred dollars. A few months ago, they had one on sale for, I dunno, $69? Or was it $39?, Newegg, Compusa, Circuit city, Bestbuy, etc., etc., all ship to New Zealand. The postage isn't THAT much. Even stand-alone Blu-ray recorders are a lot less than $1000.

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by rbsjrx / January 16, 2010 9:07 AM PST
In reply to: really?

"$400 to 2000$??? How can that possibly be? I just searched for "DVD recorder" at The most expensive stand-alone recorder was a little over $200. The cheaper ones were under a hundred dollars."

Since he's in New Zealand, this is entirely possible. The prices you cite are for Region 1 NTSC machines. New Zealand is in DVD Region 4 and uses PAL.

DVD regions refer to digital rights management (DRM code for anti-piracy). This assures that a DVD bought in the US can't play in the UK (actually, Europe has sub-regions so a UK DVD might not pay in France, even though they're technically in the same primary region).

NTSC and PAL refer to the analog scan and frame rate and other technical details. The US, Canada, Mexico, and a few others use NTSC - 525 lines at 60 frames/sec. Most of the rest of the world uses PAL/SECAM - 625 lines at 50 frames/sec.

Prices are governed by supply and demand. Newegg, CompUSA, et al's prices are low because of the relatively huge demand here. Remember, machines for each region have to specifically engineered and certified for their target regions and those engineering and certification costs have to be recouped from sales. There exist so-called "Region 0" machines which can play any region code in either NTSC or PAL and their prices aren't out of line with what he cites.

All that having been said, the most economical and universal solution is to build a multimedia PC since most PC hardware and software can handle multiple regions and output formats.

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region 0's not that much
by porsche10x / February 5, 2010 7:49 AM PST
In reply to: Regions

I am aware of the region and format issues. Sorry, but region-free machines do not cost that much. They are still around $200. A region-free machine with hard drive (a complete DVR) is $500-$1000, still much less than $2000. Most single-region DVD players and recorders are designed for all regions and set by the manufacturer at the final stages of production. They should cost no more than a region 1 machine. Yes, I don't live in his locality, so I don't know exactly what he can and can't get, but if he's willing to take a chance on voiding his warranty, there are hacks for many machines to convert regions or make players and recorders region-free after the fact. I would research thoroughly before buying though. By the way, defeating the region protection is not a violation of copyright or DRM.

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by joe man / January 28, 2010 3:58 PM PST
In reply to: really?

i know what you mean.Two things however, N.z is caught in a bit of a timewarp re this technology that is settop boxes with PVR's have just been released and as we have only ONE satellite provider there is only one type of pvr and it is expensive and not that good(phew!)
the second point is that DVD recorders are limited in range and variety here so the prices are artificially high,

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stil an option
by porsche10x / February 5, 2010 7:49 AM PST
In reply to: really?

You could buy a multi-region recorder for around $200. You could also buy a hackable region 1 machine. See above post.

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Do you still own a VCR
by eclipse3782 / January 15, 2010 10:50 AM PST

Yes reason "wife"
tried to convince her about buying a vhs to dvd recorder but her answer was 'what do we do with it after transfering tapes'.
I don't really want to hassel with it now because
1. Most movies I love are on dvd
2. Have not switched to blue ray yet but soon prices are sliding
3. Can't beat wallyworld prices for dvd's
I might buy the adapter

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by captdecker / January 15, 2010 11:18 AM PST

yes I still use one, everday has tunner is out on the TV, but the inputs works just fine.

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I got a DVD Recorder/ VCR
by kzolady / January 15, 2010 12:31 PM PST
In reply to: VCR

I gave away all of my prerecorded VHS tapes and got rid of most of the VHS tapes I recorded myself. I saved a few of the VHS tapes that I recorded and can't get on DVD. I have watched a few and when I get around to it, may burn some of them to DVD. The machine is a little more complicated than I had hoped.

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Transcribing older formats
by rbsjrx / January 16, 2010 9:16 AM PST

The only major issue I've encountered when transcribing older formats is retaining or creating chapter/track information. Transcribing videotape to DVD, you have to create chapters if you want them. Even the best quality VCR to DVD-R will be a pain to search for specific scenes when compared to a commercial DVD.

Similarly, when transcribing vinyl to CD-R, most stand-alone CD recorders do a pretty poor job of interpreting the pause between tracks. Ultimately, I had to go through a laborious procedure of transcribing one track at a time - which entails uncertainties of its own. The best way I've found to do it is to record each side of the record straight through, then edit it into tracks using Audacity and reburn the final CD.

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by rbsjrx / January 15, 2010 12:39 PM PST

I have two DVD/VHS combo player/recorders, a Laerdisc player, and a Betamax VCR. If they hadn't both broken, I'd still have two old RCA CED disk players, too. There are some things that just aren't available anywhere else. Some favorites have never been released on any of the newer formats. "The Wizard of Speed and Time" was only available on Laserdisc (and the total number produced was, IIRC, only in the hundreds). "Quest for Love" was only available on Beta, as are many collections of Laurel & Hardy two-reelers. After many years, I finally just recently got "Late for Diner" and "Electric Dreams" on DVD (the latter is a gray market copy).

About the only thing I don't have is a Blu-Ray player. I found the whole Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD thing left a bad taste in my mouth, so I've never invested in Blu-Ray and don't intend to do so any time in the foreseeable future.

Of all my machines, the most reliable have been an el cheapo Sylvania DVD/VHS combo player/recorder, my old Sony Betamax 860, and my Pioneer Laserdisc player. The RCA CED players were junk and taught me a valuable lesson about going with an obviously inferior technology simply because it was popular at the time (another reason I've never bought into Blu-Ray). My other DVD/VHS combo machine is a more expensive Sony that's proven less reliable than the Sylvania.

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Thank You!!
by l8rb / January 15, 2010 1:42 PM PST
In reply to: Certainly

For confirming my similar attitude about BluRay...
I thought I'd have to suffer in silence...especially since I install these technologies for a living! I really thought Toshiba gave up too easily on HD-DVD...just another casualty of the "instant gratification" generation.

BUT, I digress the subject. I still have (and use!) a GoVideo dual VCR, two stand-alone VCRs, and two DVDR-VCRs to go with my three 600 hour SD DVRs (Thank you WeakKnees!). Third-shift workers need all the Prime-Time back-up we can get...especially thru the holiday, sports, and awards show 'Dead Zones'...not to mention the return of "American Idiot"! BUT, it takes 'all kinds'.

If you REALLY want to laugh...I also still have vinyl LP's, Cassette audio tapes, and even (GASP) ---"8-TRACKS"---!!! Just like rbsjrx, there are many historical (and stupid) recordings that I find never upgraded formats. THANK GOODNESS for the new equipment to digitize some of these older media...especially now that the only future source is expected to be 'The Infallible (sic) Internet' -- and it's myriad of software formats!!!!!!!!

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by rbsjrx / January 15, 2010 3:25 PM PST
In reply to: Thank You!!

"Thank you [...] For confirming my similar attitude about BluRay... I thought I'd have to suffer in silence...especially since I install these technologies for a living! I really thought Toshiba gave up too easily on HD-DVD..."

The whole justification of Blu-Ray was business and greed. It offered no significant technical advantages over HD-DVD and sacrificed a lot of backwards compatibility to add some dubious bells and whistles that the marketeers wanted. OTOH, Toshiba's folding wasn't too surprising - they also folded on Betamax which contributed to the eventual ascendancy of VHS (my first VCR was a Toshiba Beta unit).

"If you REALLY want to laugh...I also still have vinyl LP's, Cassette audio tapes, and even (GASP) ---"8-TRACKS"---!!! Just like rbsjrx, there are many historical (and stupid) recordings that I find never upgraded formats. THANK GOODNESS for the new equipment to digitize some of these older media...especially now that the only future source is expected to be 'The Infallible (sic) Internet' -- and it's myriad of software formats!!!!!!!!"

No laughter here... I still have a huge collection of vinyl, much of which has never been released on CD, which I'm slowly transcribing to CD-R. I never invested too heavily in cassettes since I had little use for lo-fi recordings on fragile media - which is also why I never adopted 8-track. These days, most of my non-critical listening is to MP3s on my computer or burned to CD-Rs which I play in my car. Most of my MP3s I ripped myself from my CD collection (some of which is transcribed from vinyl). For critical listening, I have the original CDs or vinyl recordings.

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Yes, and I still use it quite often.
by John_Locke77 / January 15, 2010 2:22 PM PST

Well, it is a DVD/VCR combo, and I use the DVD part more often than the VCR part.

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