I bought this VCR because I was getting a new widescreen TV (Read my opinion). I chose this one because, mainly, it was a Sony that was a reasonable price. The VCR is extremely easy to use, it comes with a useful remote control, with large buttons for the most used fuctions, such as play. Set Up The unit was extremely easy to set up, although you still need to know where all of the wires and cables go in the back. Although the VCR has an auto set up fuction, I have never used it as my TV tuned my VCR in for me! It did this because it has a Smartlink function on both the TV and the VCR, so all I had to do was use the auto set up on the TV, and the TV tuned in my VCR and everything! I use the VCR almost everyday, to recod programmes while I am away from home. The timer functions are also extremely easy to use, just one press on the remote brings you into the timer menu. I normally use VideoPlus, but you can also manually set the timer. The VCR has all the usual such as PDC, where it doesn't actually start recording until the actual programme starts. The playback quality is very good, although sometimes the VCR can't recognise when a video recorded on another VCR has a stereo soundtrack, it keeps fluctuating - extremely annoying as it keeps changing from Stereo to Mono - making the video sound really annoying! The unit also has Flash rewind - basically this means an absolute sprinter at rewinding! Alltogether, I think that his is a top quality VCR from Sony, although it lacks front A/V ports for camcorders etc, but a scart adapter can always be bought for about 3 pounds each. I only rate this 4 stars because the unit is extremely annoying when it is playing a tape that is not recorded by itself, but overall a top quality set, again from Sony.
I have just got this video as a replacement for a Toshiba that couldn’t be fixed (see Curry’s op for details), and I must say that I am quite impressed with it. It gives the appearance of being (and is) well built; it is solid and oozes quality. The model I have comes in the now standard (for a/v equipment) silver, and this is designated by an S after the product number (I believe they also come in black). Setting up the video couldn’t be easier, it was just a case of getting it out of the box (obviously) plugging in the leads, turning on and pressing holding down set-up for 3 seconds (on the front of the video) and waiting while it tunes the channels and sets the clock (took about four minutes). The RF* output can also be changed so that you can find a clear channel with no interference (between 21-69). The picture quality is very good for a video in this price range (around £160, although I got it for nothing, he, he), and the sound is also up to scratch (but then it is Nicam stereo), and is clean with no noticable hiss on playback. Playback of pre-recorded tapes is pretty sharp, as are tapes recorded on this video in Standard Play. Long Play on the other hand can be a little grainy, but it is more than watchable and is of an acceptable quality and is cetainly no worse than other's I have seen (and I only ever use LP for programs I watch and wipe – I always use SP if I want to keep it). This video does feature a picture improvement system called REALITY GENERATOR (sounds like something out of Red Dwarf), that can be turned on or off and this is supposed to improve the playback quality of older tapes, by restoring the picture to its original quality, but to be honest I never noticed that much difference as the picture was good anyway. It also features a system called OPC (Optimum Picture Control) that adjusts the video heads to the tape on both record and playback to improve quality (and again c
an be turned on or off), and seems to work well. All settings are carried out via an on-screen display that is logically laid out and easy to navigate around. The other features on this video consist of: SP/LP – Standard Play (3 hours from a E180 tape), Long Play (6 hours from a E180 tape) NTSC playback – For those American Video’s VideoPlus+ - For those who can’t set the timer PDC (Program Delivery Control) – This is a system that detects a signal between programs that is sent by the TV company in question, and starts and stops a set timer (at the moment only BBC1/2 and CH4 use this), it is a very handy tool, because it means if a program starts late (and consequently overruns) the video will not start taping until it starts and will not turn off early). I have found that in practice this system only works well about 95% of the time, because if that signal is not sent, then the video will not start even if the timer has been set, and I have missed a few programs this way and in one case the signal was not sent until five minutes before the end of a show (and boy was I mad – I Love Red Dwarf). Index Search (or VPS) - That finds the start of recordings via an electronic marker that is put on the tape when ever recording is started. Flash Rewind - Rewinds a three hour tape in 60 seconds (and is very noisy). In fact, this falsh rewind is one of the downsides to this video, great if you want to rewind to the start, but trying to get it stop at a certain point is a nightmare, press stop and it takes a good ten minutes (of recorded tape) to slow down and stop, and when I say it is nosiy, think of a small jumbo jet taking off, and you will get the idea. 8 program/one month timer - This looks like it was written in Visual Basic, but don’t let that put you off as it is well laid out and couldn’t be easier to use (you don’t even need to refer
to the manual). Tape Remaining Indicator – This is represented by a bar (as per most video’s) and also by an actual amount (in hours/minutes) via the button under the flap. For connecting too other A/V equipment there are two SCART sockets on the back, one is in/out and the other is in only, as well as a couple of jack sockets for having the sound through a hi-fi. One set of connections that is lacking are the ones to connect a camcorder to the video for editing your own masterpieces, I don't know if the SCART sockets or the audio in/out sockets (for hi-fi connection) can be used, but as I don't have a camcorder nor particulary want one this was not a consideration for me, but it may be for you, so Beware! The remote is a matching grey colour and is a nice size that fits the hand well (actually it is a little longer and fatter than most), and is pretty comfortable. It is also Multi-Function and can be used to control a wide range of televisions (not just Sony’s own brand - the codes are in the manual), unusually it has a wide range of TV controls, rather than just the bog-standard volume, channel change etc. This remote also has fast text functions, and surprisingly can change the screen ratio on a widescreen television (and works a treat on my Philips). The buttons are well laid out, and for a change it looks like some thought has gone into it. The on/off button, eject button and TV/Video selector are at the top, with the number buttons and channel/volume controls below this. There is a flap that hides the index search, TV function and playback speed buttons (slow & X2), this flap is also very solidly fitted and spring loaded and not the weak break off as soon as you look at it type. The rest of the buttons are laid out on the remote front in a logical pattern that is easy to learn for operation in a dark room (the pause, FF, FRW, and stop buttons are a different shape and laid out around
a large play button, with the record button being recessed, so it is not depressed by mistake). There is also a volume control that works on the TV even when the remote is in video mode (very useful!). The supplied manual is excellent and probably the best I have seen. It is clear, well laid out and written in plain English and quite thick at 90 A5 size pages (and all of them are in English, and not multiple languages). It explains all the video’s features and how to utilise them clearly and concisely. There is also a separate set-up guide, explaining the initial unpacking and set-up of the video. *The RF channel is where everything is stored on your TV when you tune it in, the four (or five, we only have fourL) terrestrial channels are stored between the range 21-33 here on the Island, but is different in other parts of the country, video’s normally come preset at 36 (but it varies), I have always found it to be advisable to keep at least two but preferably three clear RF channels between each item of A/V equipment, and between A/V equipment and the TV channels (which you can’t change). A/V = Audio/Visual Highly recommended if you are in the market for a new video, but whether it is worth paying the extra for the undoubtedly superior build quality and possibly slightly better picture quality is a question you would need to ask yourself, as there are other video’s available for a lot less with a very similar feature list and playback quality. Also bare in mind the lack of connections for camcorders,because if that is a prime consideration then look elswhere. I have given it four stars for value if you get it for the street price of around £160, at is full price of £200 I would have to reduce this to three for value for money.
Having previously only ever had mono VCRs, I recently purchased an SLVSE700S as an upgrade. The build quality of this kit is typically Sony, solid, well laid out, and easy to get to grips with (I can't even remember looking in the manual after the initial setup) The rear has 2 Scart sockets - one input only, the other in/out, as well as 2 phono sockets for audio out - pipe it straight through the HiFi! The product boasts a 'Reality Regenerator' which is supposed to improve picture quality on failing tapes - though I can't say I can particularly see an improvement. Another neat feature is the Tape Indexing system Smart Search - which keeps a track of what is recorded on the tape, with dates, times and channels - so it's easy to jump to a program you recorded a while ago. The only drawback with this is it only stores one tapes information - so is only really suited to a tape that is always used to tape stuff on when you are going out etc. On the whole a well built, reliable VCR - not the cheapest for a NICAM, but hey, it is a good one!