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Bye bye VCR

  1. Jul 21, 2016 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    If you still have any VHS tapes, you'd better get them transferred to DVD or digital files soon!

    The Long, Final Goodbye of the VCR (NY Times)

    However, according to Ars Technica:

    So maybe some company will start making them again, and we'll see a revival like with vinyl LPs. o0)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2016 #2


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    You can buy 20 VCR's for $5 each at the local thrift store.:smile: Unlikely to be a shortage of players soon.
  4. Jul 22, 2016 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    I've done this with some of our old family tapes using the direct to DVD Sony DVD burner:


    or this device:


    Your results may vary. In my case, many of my tapes were recorded using the extended mode (6hrs per tape) feature (Hey, they were expensive) and that the quality of the video suffered. Also most of the videos look washed out perhaps from loss of tape magnetism, tape stretch, tape/head corrosion or being fooled by the improved flat screen tech we have today.

    My SONY camcorder tapes were also problematic as the SONY head started to wobble enough to distort the video signal. I had to bring the tapes to a professional recordist who was able to recover most of the video by actually repositioning his playback head when the playback went astray.

    Lastly, the recordist said that video tape shelf life under normal conditions of wear and tear was about 10 years but if kept well could last a bit longer. So if you have really old tapes that you want to keep then I suggest you get moving on it.

    He also said that digital tape was the best medium to store your tapes on as it was the least prone to damage vs CD/DVD/BRAY where a single scratch can render the disk useless or heat can warp the disk (leaving it in the car once on a hot day) whereas a digital tape may have a bad spot but you can recover from it and still have most of your video intact.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  5. Jul 22, 2016 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    About 13 years ago, I bought one of these and used it to transfer VHS tapes that I had made of TV shows (sports, news events, etc.) that I wanted to keep, and commercial videos (mostly hobby-related) that hadn't been reissued on DVD yet. It feeds directly into iMovie on my Mac, for recording.


    It took a couple of years to transfer all the tapes. I still keep the converter and a VCR in my closet, in case I buy a tape of something that isn't on DVD or can't be downloaded from somewhere.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  6. Jul 24, 2016 #5
    It's hard to throw out old VHS tapes. My mom's an English teacher at a local community college and about 3-4 years ago they decided to purge all of the VHS tapes in their inventory and just go straight CD/DVD. So they had a week-long fire sale where you could get any VHS tape for $1. They had all the videos splayed out on tables in the back of the central library. About 2-3,000 of them. I went in early and bought about 15-20 gems that I had actually checked out several times in years past.

    The kicker here is that, by the end of the week, they still had about 2/3rds of the videos unsold and they had to dump them. They weren't going to give them away for free to the public but my mom was friends with the head librarian and she said that we could go back there and basically just take whatever we wanted because they were going to dump them anyway. So I had a field day. I took like 30 tapes of the "Conceptual Physics" series, the entire 13 episode "Ascent of man" series, the whole Connections 1 and 2 by Burke series. Civilization series. The whole 40-part "World at war" series etc. etc. Mom got a huge Shakespearean series and Western Tradition series. It was ugly. What was especially fun was farming the many 80's physics videos, some obscure interviews with notable physicists, a lot of excitement in the late 80's with fractal and chaos videos, etc. Plus a whole slew of "Frontline" videos and other news documentaries.

    At the end of the day I literally walked out of the library with about 300-350 VHS cassette tapes. And, believe it or not, I pretty much watched every one of them, at least once. Ok, not EVERY one of them, but the vast majority. Sometimes I watched one more than once.

    In any case, these videos clogged up the storage shed in my mom's backyard and she wanted me to help her do some spring cleaning. OMG, what to throw out? Most of what my library housed you can get online now but to have the physical copy with the "liner notes" is so personal and so special, how can I throw this away?

    Well, that's exactly what happened after hemming and hawing over the last 3 years. It all went bye bye except for a few special gems such as an Einstein documentary that I've never been able to find online, and interviews with Benoit Mandlebrot, Feynman, and others that Ihaven't been able to add to my Youtube queue list. So that's the criterion I used as to whether I dumped the videos or not.

    At the end of the day, though, I don't think I've popped a VCR video in my VCR in over a year or two now. If you looked at my "entertainment center," you'd see a 40 inch Samsung 3D TV with the 120Hz autocorrection for quad multiplying your frame rate for smooth perception. So I like this. I have a chromecast 1 dongle in my HDMI 1 port so I can access almost any of the videos I used to have in my VHS library from Youtube at the touch of a button on my Samsung Galaxy 4 smartphone.

    As a relic and a monument, though, I have preserved, in my current entertainment center, my old VCR from the 90's and a $20 DVD player I bought I think in 2002-3 for historic purposes. It's a living history, though, as they may be used again, that's why I'm keeping them around. For reasons I don't even know, I actually have a combination VCR DVD player that would fit even more parsimoniously in my entertainment center cabinet, but that's really defeating the purpose. These relics are historical, the combination device is an abomination that is best forgotten.
  7. Jul 24, 2016 #6
  8. Jul 24, 2016 #7
    The company was selling 750k units a year. Seems worth keeping production to me.
  9. Jul 24, 2016 #8
    You missed the best part, Greg:

    "Last year, Sony announced it would stop selling Betamax video cassettes - a rival to the VHS. VCRs were required to play or record such tapes."

    I thought they stopped making/trading Betamax cassettes in the 80's! :oldsurprised:
  10. Jul 24, 2016 #9
    I wonder what the profit margin amounted to per unit ? Think I'll search it.
  11. Jul 24, 2016 #10
    I'm as surprised as you. o_O
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