Separate machines or all-in-one DVD/VCR machine?

My VCR is giving up the ghost, so I’m shopping for a replacement. I’ve got scads of video cassettes so I’m not giving up a VCR. I’m interested in a DVD player as well, since DVD’s seem to be the wave of the future. I’m hardly a snobbish audio/visual technophile, I just need something that will set up easily, play my tapes and cassettes without memorizing a page of directions and last for at least 5-10 years until the next electronic marvel is introduced. I live in a one bedroom condo so I’m not gonna even hook up my machines to a stereo system because I don’t need all that much sound.

Okay, after getting all that exposition out of the way, do I have to get a separate VCR and DVD players, or is the technology now good enough so that I can get a machine that does both well and won’t break down quickly? I plan on purchasing a Sony or Toshiba, well known brands that have a track record. Thanks for your recommendations.

One advantage we found about a dual-machine is that they work well with older televisions. DVD’s only have an output so there’s no daisy-chaining them.

My MIL’s TV is old enough that it has a single signal input on the back. A dual-machine, therefore has the signal-in for the VCR and a shared DVD/VCR output that hooks easily to the single-input on the older TV.

Follow? It’s hard to put in words right now - I may need more coffee.

Another possible hookup for a separate DVD & VCR on a single-input TV is to use the probably dual-inputs on the VCR, one for the cable/antenna the other for the DVD. A recent posting, though, suggests that the newer Macrovision encoding on DVD’s may make this traditional work-around no longer any good.

So - if you have an old single-input TV, the dual-machine may solve a hookup problem.

Other than that, I have no brand recommendations.

one thing to think about is cost of replacement - if your new machine gives up the ghost, you will then again have to look into replacing both. If you buy seperate machines, then should one die, you only have to think about replacing the unit that died. At least that was a deciding factor in my purchase.

I’ll also point out that it is possible to daisy chain a DVD and VCR; just put the VCR between the DVD and TV rather than vice versa. That is how I set up my system (TV has 3 input jacks but only one of them works without sporatic connectivity problems)

Combo devices are generally a very bad idea. As mentioned, it doubles the failure rate. Secondly, they tend to made very, very cheaply. (Even cheaper than standard garbage consumer electronics.) This is because they are targetting the not-too-bright low end “hey this will save me money and I’ll get an extended warranty too” people.

Buy separate units.

You can also try doing a little maintenance on your VCR. Clean the tape path by hand, replace the belts. See the VCR repair faq..

But not necessarily sold cheaply!

I was looking at a combo unit like this last Xmas, for a gift for my Mother, who 1) has an old TV with only a single input, and 2) needs the simplest possible cabling & control system.

But in looking at the combo units, I found that the cheapest of them was quite a bit more than the price of individual units. And the individual units looked to be of somewhat higher quality.

I’d avoid the combo units.

AVOID COMBOS. The VCRs in combo (whether it be tv or dvd) sets are notorious.

Get a switch if you’re worried about hookups.

I have a reciever, so I’ve got TV, VCR, DVD, PS2, XBOX, and N64 hooked up now with room for a cd player and phonograph.

Buy two, you’ll be much happier.

I got a pretty cheap combo unit. I like how it takes up the same amount of space as one of them.

This works if the VCR has multiple signal inputs (one for DVD, other for cable/antenna). Note, though it’s not really a daisy chain.

A daisy chain (not possible, since DVD’s are usually output only):

cable --> DVD --> VCR --> TV

What usually is done:

cable --> VCR-in-1
DVD —> VCR-in-2 --(VCR out)–> TV

Another Posting suggested that some of the newest Macrovision protected DVD’s, though, won’t play through the VCR correctly. The macrovision seemed to mess with the VCR’s automatic gain controls, even when the user wasn’t trying to record the DVD.

A cheapie external A/V switch might take care of this problem.

Most dual units I saw have RF out, a feature you don’t find on dvd players.

For price, circuitcity.com
Goldstar DVD/VCR Combo
Brand/Model: GLR GBV241
Free shipping
$119 with $30 rebate.

3 year guarantee=$29

My parents got a combo unit. The speech on the DVD player lagged behind the video. It was a very small lag, but once they noticed it it bugged the hell out of them. This goes back to the combo units generally being very cheeply made.

I have a JVC combo which is perfect. I don’t use the VHS side much and I wanted to save space so I got the best combo drive I could find (there aren’t many out there). The extended warrenty also came in handy when the DVD motor burned out (free new replacement of the equivilent combo drive (the newer model).

The only downside I can see is if your VHS or DVD breaks, you loose both until it’s fixed. Otherwise I’ve never had an issue and an added bonus with JVC is that the same remote controls the TV (another JVC product).

I don’t know why people are complaining about buying “cheap” combo drives…what did you expect? A Sony?

We have a TV/VCR combo - it’s now just a TV.

I’ll never buy a combo again. Well, at least not till I’m convinced it’s a good deal. Besides, DVD units are so small, I can’t see space being that big a deal. But that’s just me.

Thanks for your comments. I guess I’ll try to fix up my VCR and buy a RF doohickey thing when I buy a DVD player.

Do NOT get the Apex combo.

I’ve heard generally bad things about Apex’s, other than some of them are region-free, allowing you to play imported DVDs.

As with any electronic component, I suggest doing research for specs (so you get what you want), consumer opinions (so you don’t get hosed), and price (try froogle).