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VCR Buying Guide

With dozens of VCR brands on the market and even more models to choose from, finding the best price VCR can be a daunting task. Just figuring out which model is appropriate for your needs, and then comparing VCR prices to find the best deal can be trying, especially when you're approached with hard sales pitches, manufacturer claims, and customer reviews. Where do you even start?

This guide is designed to help you eliminate that frustration by explaining how VCRs stack up against modern DVD players, as well as the features you should understand when shopping for the best model. The guide will help you narrow your search and find the best price VCR in your budget, as well as compare VCR prices to ensure you find the lowest price.

VCR vs. the DVD player

VCR and VHS is a technology of the past, and it is true that DVD is better than VCR technology in almost every comparison. Not only does it provide superior video and audio quality, but it offers an abundance of other features that you won't find in even the best VCRs. These include multiple language options, closed captioning, parental controls, access to movie bonus materials, and more targeted access to specific scenes. DVD players can also play CDs, CDRs, and in some cases MP3 CDs. Most importantly, the video media (the actual DVD) is much more durable than VHS, so you won't get degrading video and sound quality over time and multiple uses.

So why continue to read on? If you have a large collection of existing VHS videos, and you don't want to purchase them again in DVD format, a VCR will allow you to enjoy your existing collection. And because many movie titles of the past have not yet made it to DVD, the only way to experience those rare movies is through VCR and VHS technology. Newer VCRs are better equipped to preserve your existing collection than older models too, and they are surprisingly inexpensive (about $85.00 for a good basic model, or $40 for a lower end model).

Learn which features make up the best VCRs

The first step is to understand the array of different feature options that are available. Once you understand the features you require, shopping for the best price VCR in your budget will be much easier.

Single or double deck

If you want to watch VHS videos or record them from your TV, a single deck VCR is your best buy. Double deck VCR units allow you more flexibility in editing home videos, as you can record from one VHS tape to another. If you are looking to do this type of editing, a double deck VCR is your best choice.

Number of video heads

In general, the greater the number of heads, the better your VCR will be able to deliver pictures onto your television, as well as record video onto a VHS tape. Most of today's VCRs have 4 heads, which will provide you with great picture quality.

Automatic head cleaner

Some of the best price VCRs can clean the video head automatically at routine intervals. This prevents dust and debris from accumulating and degrading the picture quality.

Remote control

The remote control is the most important connection between you and your VCR. If they are difficult to use or understand, it can cause you a great deal of frustration. When shopping for the best price VCR player, we recommend that you hold the remote control in your hand and use it. Of equal importance, look for a 'Universal' remote, which can be programmed to operate your TV and cable/satellite system as well.

Search Functions

Search functions allow you to better navigate between commercials, specific scenes, or entire segments of movies. Some of the VCR search functions to keep an eye out for include:

  • Commercial advance - allows you to advance through commercials quickly.
  • Frame advance - allows you to play back parts of a movie frame-by-frame.
  • Instant review - allows you to instantly rewind and replay a scene or segment of a movie.
  • Index search - allows you to assign numbers to particular scenes or segments of a movie, and then use your remote control to navigate forward or backward to those segments later on.

Audio/video inputs and outputs

Audio/video inputs and outputs allow you to connect other devices to your VCR, such as video game consoles, home audio systems, stereos, other VCRs, or camcorders. Look for models with front-panel AV jacks, as they make setup much more convenient.

Auto clock set

Although not the most important feature, some VCRs can automatically set your clock based on signals from specific television channels.

Audio format

If sound quality is important to you, keep the audio format in mind, which comes in either Mono or Stereo. Mono is a single channel of sound that is played through one speaker, while Stereo is two channels of sound that is played through two speakers. The best price VCRs offer Stereo sound, which will allow you to get the best performance out of your existing home audio system.

Recording speeds

VCRs can record in up to three different formats, including single play (SP), long play (LP), or extended play (EP). You'll achieve the highest quality recordings with SP, so make sure your VCR is capable of this or at least LP.