VCR advice needed

Our VCR recently died (actually, it ate a tape I checked out from the library, and we had to disassemble it to get the tape out!) Now, before you say, “Get a DVD player!”…well, we have one. However, we do have a lot of videotapes, and we do like to record TV shows occasionally, so I would like to replace it. I’m just not sure what to replace it with! I’ve been looking around the internet for reviews, etc., and it’s been disheartening. I mean, the old VCR was a cheap off-brand POS, but it lasted six years. Now I’m hearing about name-brand machines that only last 18 months!

We’ve been considering a DVD/VCR combo. (The DVD player we have now travels from TV to TV in the house, so it would be nice to have another one. We use DVD more than the VCR these days.) Does anyone have any experience with these? Is it a better deal to go with separate units, or do these work well?

Basically, I’m looking for brands/models to consider/avoid and general advice. I don’t want or need the most expensive unit, but I would like something that will stand up to general family use (we have a six-year-old) for a few years at least.

[Frankenstein’s monster]errrr…combo BAD…[FM]
Stick with a name brand - Panasonic, Sony, etc. You SHOULD be able to find a good 4-head stereo unit for less than $80.

Agreed. If you can’t walk away with a four-head stereo with high-quality features for under 80 bucks, don’t bother. I bought a Symphonic VCR as a second VCR which I’m pretty happy with, although the remote control design is bad and the lack of an LCD can be annoying at times. In any case, it’s as good as my somewhat more expensive Sony (which was probably $130 when it came out, but it or something similar is probably even cheaper now) in terms of quality. The functionality took a hit, though.

I can’t remember what family Symphonic is part of. I believe it’s a Japanese or possibly Korean company.

You can actually clean the old one. You have already opened the case at least once. Make sure it is unplugged. Take a lint free cloth and alcohol clean the video head. the audio heads, all the rollers and capstans the tape runs around. That should fix the eating problem.

Whatever you do, don’t get a Sony. I have one, and it’s crap.

Of course, that’s just one VCR, but it utterly sucks. Image quality is poor, especially with rentals. The only redeeming factor is that it’s 6 years old, and I’ve never even cleaned it.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I should put one of them cleaning tapes in just about now. But trust me, it has always sucked at playing rental tapes. All of them, even brand new. It only plays well whatever it recorded itself.

Oh, I don’t think we can save the old one. We had to take it completely apart to get the tape out–it wasn’t giving up that tape for anything! Besides, it had started to give this annoying background whine upon playback. The tape eating was the last straw.

Is Panasonic a good brand? We like our Panasonic DVD player.

I have owned two Panasonic VCRs and have been real pleased with both. Costco sells them quite reasonably. My favorite feature of the pricier Panasonics is their ability to record at SLP (superlongplay)–that let’s me get in a couple of baseball games.

Toshiba is another fine brand. Do consider a combo (VCR/DVD) as that may serve you better in the long run–but if you want to keep your costs down VCRs are cheap.

When I was shopping for a new VCR years ago, I asked some friends of mine for advice. They were anime fansub creators, and their VCRs got a heck of a workout. They advised me to go with JVC, which they considered the most durable brand. And they were right; my JVC worked like a champ, right up until the time I stupidly disassembled it too much and forgot how to put it back together again.

I then bought another JVC, but a year later I learned the harsh lesson of “never buy the cheapest model”. Yes, VCRs are cheap these days, but you still get what you pay for. The sub-$80 model croaked after a power surge. I then bought a third JVC VCR, spending a bit more (about $130) and got a SVHS model. So far, it’s working great, but it’s not very old as yet.

I have taken cassettes out of vcrs too. Turned out that the vcr works fine but it was a cheap rental cassette. Older panasonics/quarsars had basket issues. I had a couple of them with the same issue – I have to push the cassette in all the way & then another mm for it to take.