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My S-VHS now a doorstop?

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Old 08-21-2007, 03:56 PM   #1  
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Default My S-VHS now a doorstop?

I hope you'll forgive a very elementary question. I'm new to HD and this is my first post. I'm not even sure if I'm posting in the correct category.

Last week I bought a new HDTV (Sony KDL-32S3000) and traded in my old digital cable box for a new HD-DVR (provider is TW Cable in NYC). Everything is working splendidly. Needless to say, I'm as shocked as most newbies seem to be that SD looks so poor now that I have a display that shows the flaws, but much of the SD programming on TWNYC isn't bad at all.

Here's the issue: Despite now using an HD-DVR (Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300HDC) I am accustomed to recording programs in S-VHS, particularly for my friends and family abroad. I've tried feeding the composite signal out of the cable box, the S-video signal, and even the RF (my S-VHS unit has no component inputs). Of these, the S-video is slightly better, but still, imo, unwatchable. The image quality is truly horrendous. What is more, archive tapes I made using my previous digital cable box (which I also output to the S-VHS using S-video, and which looked great on my old SD CRT) are similarly unwatchable on my new HDTV.

I realize that my S-VHS deck, despite being one of the best in its class, is incapable of producing a signal that's up to the resolution of the HDTV. But is it now and forever useless, or is there some sort of adaptation I can make, or a work-around, that can at least allow me to produce tapes that are of reasonable SD quality?

If this discussion is already in place elsewhere, sorry. Please feel free to direct me. If not, I'm grateful for any advice, and thanks again for reading an elementary question. DGI
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Old 08-21-2007, 04:35 PM   #2  
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I experienced the same sort of thing when I traded my 25" tube screen using a Tivo 2nd Series for a 50" Plasma HD TV. The cable company gave me a new DVR capable of recording HD and also
connected via HDMI.

For a few weeks I still had my Tivo Connected but the quality was so horrible on my new TV I just ended up unplugging it.

Tivo Makes a new HD DVR that would look good on my TV, but I just really couldn't justify spending 800 dollars for it considering the DVR Cox cable gave me for an extra 6 dollars a month was doing essentially the same thing.
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:28 AM   #3  
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Watch your S-VHS recordings on an old 25" tube SD TV-- are they an worse than were before?

Certainly they will not look good on a new HD TV-- but on an old TV set for which the S-VHS was designed, they should look like they did before . . .
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Old 08-22-2007, 10:25 AM   #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mulciber View Post
I'm as shocked as most newbies seem to be that SD looks so poor now that I have a display that shows the flaws, but much of the SD programming on TWNYC isn't bad at all.
I don't see why Super VHS would look any worse than a standard-def DVD. DVD == 480 lines of horizontal resolution and SVHS == 420 lines, so they are very close in quality.

Here are ideas that might make it look better:
- Use the "SP" mode (it only lets you record 2-3 hours,
but it provides a beautiful picture)
- Use Super VHS tape (not standard vhs)
- Use Digital VHS tape (the best tape you can buy)

I'm using Super VHS and I'm happy with it. Of course, my set's only 30 inches, so that hides a lot of flaws which might be visible on a larger screen.

Last edited by electrictroy; 08-22-2007 at 10:49 AM..
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Old 08-22-2007, 11:29 AM   #5  
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I also find SVHS unusable on a big screen HDTV. I am using most of my SVHS tapes to record HDTV using a D-VHS VCR so at least I am doing my part to keep videotape out of landfills. SVHS still looks fine for an old 19" analog TV, but not worth using for the new displays. There is no solution to the problem in my opinion. SVHS doesn't even come close to DVD quality, there is more to a good picture than lines of resolution and anamorphic DVD blows SVHS out of the water in that regard as well for a widescreen display.

Chris
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:56 PM   #6  
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My VCR is now in a closet. I'd sell it if it were worth anything. I can record programming on my DVR for watching at a convenient time. I'm afraid that's where things are now. There is no going back. Welcome to HDTV.
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Old 08-22-2007, 01:30 PM   #7  
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ob·so·les·cence
noun the state, process, or condition of being or becoming obsolete.

rotor dial telephones
full service gas stations
honest politicians
VHS/VCRs
Analog TV broadcast (well almost anyway)

Ah the price of progress....
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:17 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fmw View Post
I'm afraid that's where things are now. There is no going back. Welcome to HDTV.
The message is clear, and I appreciate everyone's replies. In response to the person who suggested recording on digital S-VHS tape at SP, I've tried all that. I can't say why, but it still looks like a mushy mess to me. It may be that the signal output on the HD-DVR is somehow just not good, and I'm going to try to find a knowledgeable tech at Time Warner to ask about this. (They have a separate division for these boxes, as they've only been out a month, and they're still updating software very regularly - firmware's buggy).

I believe that what I'll do is purchase the least expensive DVD burner I can get away with. I'd imagine that the component signal out to that will produce a very clean image. I'll do my homework in the meantime. Friends in Japan have recommended a quite good Panasonic tuner/dvd burner/dvr, but I've tapped my finances for the present. Instead, I'll stick with this hd-dvr and find a quality tunerless recorder.

Thanks again. I'm not going to toss my old videotapes or player, but I'm pretty sure I won't be viewing them for a very long time.

DGI
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:22 AM   #9  
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The best-possible input you can use to your VCR is S-video which provides two separate lines rather than just one, and thus a cleaner picture.

Also: The biggest flaw with VHS formats is the color. The color resolution is only 40 x 480 so it would give a "mushy" appearance as the color is heavily blurred. (DVD is 360 x 240... much clearer.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by mulciber View Post
It may be that the signal output on the HD-DVR is somehow just not good.....
That makes sense. I've noticed that Digital equipment often sticks "lackluster" analog portions into the mix. They figure Composite and S-video are obsolete formats, so why bother outputting a clean signal?

Anyway:

I still think SVHS almost as good as DVD (standard 4:3 framed movies/tv shows). I was just watching a SVHS tape on my Digital VCR and was amazed at how crystal clear it looks. ----- But then I'm not as picky as others. I also download movies that have been squeezed onto CDs, and enjoy them, despite the fact they are only 700 megabytes in size.

Last edited by electrictroy; 08-23-2007 at 03:28 AM..
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:37 AM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electrictroy View Post
The best-possible input you can use to your VCR is S-video which provides two separate lines rather than just one, and thus a cleaner picture.

Also: The biggest flaw with VHS formats is the color. The color resolution is only 40 x 480 so it would give a "mushy" appearance as the color is heavily blurred. (DVD is 360 x 240... much clearer.) That makes sense. I've noticed that Digital equipment often sticks "lackluster" analog portions into the mix. They figure Composite and S-video are obsolete formats, so why bother outputting a clean signal?

Anyway:

I still think SVHS almost as good as DVD (standard 4:3 framed movies/tv shows). I was just watching a SVHS tape on my Digital VCR and was amazed at how crystal clear it looks. ----- But then I'm not as picky as others. I also download movies that have been squeezed onto CDs, and enjoy them, despite the fact they are only 700 megabytes in size.
In another thread I thought you mentioned the D-VHS VCR didn't do a very good job with SVHS. You can think SVHS looks almost as good as DVD but I sure don't. SVHS and LaserDisc looked close enough that I was happy with both, given a good source to record from. Once I saw DVD, both of those looked bad in comparison. When I saw TiVo for recording, SVHS became basically useless to me, and that is before I had an HDTV.

I still have a couple of analog displays and I might get an SVHS VCR out to use with one of those for nostalgia purposes.

Chris
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:52 AM   #11  
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I could show you several DVDs that look bad. Like the Star Trek DS9 discs. (Mainly a result of too much compression.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Gerhard View Post
In another thread I thought you mentioned the D-VHS VCR didn't do a very good job with SVHS.
I was wrong. I fiddled with the settings (turned on stabilization), and now everything looks good. I'm thinking maybe I should keep this 30000 unit rather than sell it.

QUESTIONS:
- How come watching 420-line laserdisc was acceptable in the 1990s, and now suddenly it is not? It's the same stuff you watched before.

- Do you think ED betamax or W-VHS look bad on a large screen?

Last edited by electrictroy; 08-23-2007 at 04:57 AM..
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:13 AM   #12  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electrictroy View Post
I could show you several DVDs that look bad. Like the Star Trek DS9 discs. (Mainly a result of too much compression.) I was wrong. I fiddled with the settings (turned on stabilization), and now everything looks good. I'm thinking maybe I should keep this 30000 unit rather than sell it.

QUESTIONS:
- How come watching 420-line laserdisc was acceptable in the 1990s, and now suddenly it is not? It's the same stuff you watched before.

- Do you think ED betamax or W-VHS look bad on a large screen?
SVHS still looks fine on a small analog screen. I have stated it doesn't look good on a big screen HDTV. W-VHS is HD and looks great on a big screen, better than DVD. EDBeta would look similar to SVHS, not very good and nowhere near DVD.

Chris
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:02 AM   #13  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Gerhard View Post
SVHS still looks fine on a small analog screen. I have stated it doesn't look good on a big screen HDTV. W-VHS is HD and looks great on a big screen, better than DVD. EDBeta would look similar to SVHS, not very good and nowhere near DVD.
(scratching head). But ED betamax has 690x480 pixels of resolution; it should be nice and clear. Right?

So to summarize:

VHS << SVHS/ED beta << DVD << W-VHS (in terms of increasing quality)
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:47 PM   #14  
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[QUOTE=electrictroy;348697
VHS << SVHS/ED beta << DVD << W-VHS (in terms of increasing quality)[/QUOTE]

I can state that with absolute certainty having owned all. I might even give EDBeta a slight advantage over SVHS, but clearly below DVD. That is just video quality and doesn't consider audio quality, all W-VHS has is analog audio, the VHS Hi-Fi method. To carry your little chart out to include all of the videotape formats I have owned:

VHS << Beta << Hi-8<< SVHS << EDBeta << W-VHS << D-VHS

Including the disc based formats:

VHS << Beta << Hi-8<< SVHS << EDBeta << DVD << W-VHS << D-VHS << HD DVD << Blu-ray

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Old 08-24-2007, 06:54 AM   #15  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Gerhard View Post
VHS << Beta << Hi-8<< SVHS << EDBeta << DVD .....
There are two surprises here:
- You rate Betamax higher than VHS. Why? Every spec I've read shows they have the same resolution (250 lines luma/40 lines chroma). There shouldn't be any difference in quality.

- You rate SVHS higher than Hi8 which surprises me because most people say Hi8 has better picture quality. (I've not reviewed the specs; so I have no opinion here.)

So how come the difference?

thanks.
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