They still make VCRs

Buy recommendation for old VHS video recorders

Updated on by vinett-video media service

Even in the age of digital media, some people still choose to buy an analog video recorder. With a VHS player, not only can films recorded on video be viewed again, but they can also be digitized from home on DVD or hard drive. Since the production of VHS video recorders was discontinued, VHS devices have only been sold second-hand. We summarize what to look out for when buying and explain the most important functions on the video recorder so that the device ultimately fits your needs.


Anyone who has decided to buy a video recorder is first of all confronted with the distinction between VHS recorders and S-VHS recorders. But what do these terms mean?

S-VHS or Super-VHS is the further development of VHS. Due to a structure of 400 lines (instead of 240 with VHS), the picture looks much sharper here, and black-and-white and color components in the picture are processed separately. The visual advantage of playing and copying with an S-VHS device is particularly evident with S-VHS cassettes. If you want to get a top picture when playing normal VHS cassettes on an S-VHS recorder, you should make sure that the S-VHS device supports the so-called "S-VHS-ET technology". With their help, the recorders achieve good picture and sound quality even when playing normal cassettes.

In this case, there is no need to worry about compatibility: all S-VHS recorders can also play VHS recordings. On the other hand, there is a disadvantage: S-VHS tapes cannot be played on most VHS recorders. If you also want to use your VHS device for S-VHS cassettes, you should pay attention to the "S-VHS quasi-playback" feature when buying the VHS recorder.

An unreserved purchase recommendation cannot be given, as the condition of a device depends on its use and storage. Plastic parts can become brittle and break off, electrolytic capacitors leak and oils and greases become resinous. In addition, belts wear out or become brittle as well. In short: there can be worlds between two identical models in terms of video and sound quality.

Which connections does the device need?

Since the analog antenna television has almost been abolished, you can no longer record a television signal with your video recorder without an upstream digital-to-analog converter. Since this does not make much sense today, we will only consider the outputs here.

You should make sure that the device has an S-Video output. S-Video means separated video and describes the separate transmission of the color signal and brightness, which generally offers better quality.

Which functions are useful?

In order to achieve better image quality when digitizing, one should pay attention to a so-called "Time Base Corrector" (TBC) and "Digital Noise Reduction" (DNR). A TBC has the effect that the slight braking of the video tape is compensated for by touching the audio and video heads. Without TBC, there may be crooked or vertical lines in the image. With a TBC, the lines are straight and the image looks sharper. In post-processing, almost all video editing programs offer filters that reduce this noise, but unfortunately the result is almost never completely satisfactory. It is therefore more convenient if the recorder offers a noise suppression function during the transfer. This has two major advantages: on the one hand, the result is often better than that of filter software, and on the other hand, the image optimization takes place in real time and there is no long waiting on the computer.

Finding a specific scene on the tape by fast forwarding and rewinding can be very tedious. But a video recorder can make it easier to find the scene if it shows the picture while rewinding. So you can see where you are when you are winding. However, you shouldn't do this too often to protect the tape and video heads. It is also helpful if the video recorder can wind at different speeds. The so-called "automatic video index search" is also particularly practical, because it can be used to manually mark individual points on the tape that the recorder can return to later.

In addition, every good video recorder should have a still image display, a slow motion function and an endless repetition of scenes, with which you can, for example, take a close look at exciting football scenes ;-).

European TV channels usually broadcast in PAL format. However, if you also want to watch videos from the USA, you should look for a device that can also play cassettes in NTSC format.

VHS-DVD combo or not?

So-called "combination devices" are particularly in demand when purchasing. Such VHS DVD recorders are usually a little more expensive to buy, but are particularly worthwhile if the VHS and DVD films are to be watched regularly with the video recorder.

VHS-DVD combination devices also enable direct copying of VHS tapes or individual sections onto a DVD, which can then be played directly on the TV or PC. If you switch the TV system to NTSC in the menu, even American tapes can be copied with a combination device. Some devices also offer a copy function from DVD to VHS. This could be useful, for example, if video recordings are to be copied for friends who only have a VHS recorder at home.

Which devices do we recommend for digitization?

In principle, the recording device that recorded your videos at the time is most suitable for playing back and digitizing old VHS cassettes, as here, among other things, the heads are ideally adjusted to your band. However, since the player seldom still exists, you should purchase one of the following S-VHS devices, depending on availability:

Panasonic recorders: NV-F65, NV-F70, NV-FS88, NV-FS200, NV-HS900 / 950/960 and NV-HS1000.

JVC recorders: HR-S7600 to HR-S9911U, especially the HR-S9500 / 9600/9700 models

If you have several video recorders, you are welcome to try them out and choose the device with the better quality. Regardless of the model, you should clean the device beforehand.

Where can I buy a VHS recorder?

Even in the age of BluRay, DVD and Co. there are still a few contact points where interested parties can sometimes buy new video recorders.

Most devices are traded online on eBay. In order not to fall into a trap when buying second-hand recorders, ebay offers buyer protection for items with an “eBay guarantee”, which should guarantee that the money will be paid back if the item should not work as described afterwards. There are also a number of video recorders at Amazon, usually second-hand devices from private third-party providers.

If you prefer to have your video recorder in your hand before buying, you will also find a few contact points “offline”. It is usually worth taking a look at eBay classifieds or the region's bulletin board. Occasionally you can still find new or unused devices in local buy / sell shops. Rummaging in the flea market is also profitable and fun. But be careful! Of course, there is no guarantee for the functionality and service life of the device. For experienced hobbyists, there are also various defective models online or at flea markets, which often cost little money to buy, but in which, of course, more time has to be invested.

additional information