Having recently moved to the USA from the UK I was looking for a way to view my large collection of tapes. For the unenlightened, the UK broadcasts in PAL (625 lines 50Hz)while the US standard is NTSC (525 60Hz). My first thought was to buy a multistandard video and TV combination. To explain multistandard; if you put a PAL tape in a multistandard vcr it will playback and output in PAL. Similarly, an NTSC tape plays back in NTSC. This means that you also need a multistandard TV to view the resulting signal from the VCR. I did actually buy such a setup but the results, to put it mildly, were disappointing. My next move, after returning the new multistandard TV and VCR, was to buy a converting VCR (the Samsung SV-5000W). The difference with this kind of machine is that it can convert any format tape you load in into any format output. This also means you don't need any fancy TV to watch on; any TV will do. I had my doubts that this VCR would be able to perform well enough to be acceptable. Well Mr. Samsung, I doff my cap to you. This machine is little short of amazing. I can happily watch all my UK bought tapes on my American bought TV with hardly any penalty in performance. Sound and video quality are as good as can be expected from a VHS system, with the added bonus that I can take it with me if I leave the US. The machine can accept a wide variety of TV standards; NTSC, PAL I, SECAM L and a whole bunch more which, as far as I know, covers you for anywhere you may be. Of course it also accepts a wide variety of input voltages and frequencies. There are a large selection of input terminal options, including RCA and Scart. No S-video socket that I can see but then I don't use that anyway. In addition they package a few adaptors with it so that, for example, you can connect your F-plug (as in USA) to a UK type co-ax connector. On the front of the unit are a set of standard RCA connectors for hooking up, for
example, a video camera. One really nice bonus is that the recording can be in any format. This means that I can plug in my camcorder (which outputs in NTSC) and convert to and record in PAL. Fantastic if you want to send a standard recording to the folks back home. To add to its list of abilities, it also has the more common shortcut programming options (eg Videoplus) available around the world. There are also some digital effects which, to be honest, I haven't found a need to try yet. If you wish to freeze frame then the result is a perfect still. This is because it is digital rather than analogue. The remote is comprehensive and includes a jog/shuttle knob. Would I recommend this video player? Well, if you never intend to leave the UK or watch a tape from another part of the world, or send a home video to your sister in Alaska, then no! If any of those things have happened or are looming, then absolutely yes. A superb piece of kit which even looks good.