Originally Posted by JohnAx
like a lot of mythological beings just returned from a session with their own mythological oracle, I'm confused. Are you not the same Citibear who's regularly advised his supplicants that "There is None but AG-1980. Caste Aside All Others!"?
As the saying goes, my friend, "tragedy + time = comedy, and vice versa". All video hardware has a life, a half-life, and eventually an end-of-life. Nothing good lasts forever. Threads regarding VCRs and DVD Recorders should come with expiration dates, because recommendations made ten, five and two years ago may not hold up today. Things change, typically not in a direction favorable to latecomers.
Years ago, conventional wisdom was you needed an AG1980 *and* a similar JVC to cover all bases when digitizing a large collection of VHS tapes. They both have higher-grade heads and the uncommon TBC/DNR circuit. They differ in how well they track particular tapes, and how their TBC/DNR interacts with problem tapes.
In 2004, you could buy both in good working condition at reasonable cost. In 2006, prices skyrocketed as more people became aware of them via forum chatter. By 2011, all the good ones were worn out, having been hammered on and passed around eBay by multiple owners. Today, if you're just now getting around to digitizing your tape collection, pickings are slim indeed. These VCRs are that much older, and high-end VCRs do not age nearly as well as garden-variety VCRs. Inherent problems that were manageable ten years ago are intractable now: new spare parts have dried up, and finding a good VCR repair shop is damn near impossible.
A decade ago, the Panasonic AG1980 was the most desirable high-end VCR because it was more reliable mechanically than the high-strung neurotic JVC divas. Panasonics infamous electronics decay hadn't kicked in at full force yet, so if you obtained a functional AG1980 it would continue working for a few years. Its TBC/DNR was preferable for many tapes, and it tracked old LP and EP tapes better than JVCs.
Today, both brands of used VCR are a circus of horrors. The AG1980 is only worthwhile if its electronics are working 100%, but restoring one to that level is ridiculously difficult and/or expensive. Mechanically they're still aces, but their electronics rot like a banana on sunny concrete. JVC is the opposite: mechanical disasters just waiting to bite you, difficult to adjust for best performance, tho the electronics tend to be much less problematic than an AG1980.
As disappointing as it is to hear, at this point most people should forget they ever knew there was such a thing as a "high end vcr" - the headaches and expense for an average user far outweigh the potential benefits, which were never as significant as forum chatter indicated anyway. The "legend" of AG1980, JVC 9911, etc, began at a time when primitive PC video capture cards and early dvd recorders could not cope with VHS input from ordinary vcrs. They all but required a TBC/DNR circuit in the VCR to digitize usable video.
Today, dvd recorders have all but vanished and the few remaining PC capture devices are much improved. A standard VCR patched thru an old Panasonic dvd recorder (used as a stabilizer) into a PC device like Hauppauge USB Live 2 will produce results not far off from an AG1980 feeding directly into a good dvd recorder.
Those just now embarking on a VHS digitizing project must accept that they waited too long: the options available and practical ten or five years ago are off the table today unless your uncle or your wife's father is a retired VCR repair tech with a workbench full of alignment gear and a surface-mount soldering workstation. Those who feel they MUST have a top-line VCR with TBC/DNR should look at a much newer DVHS models like Mitsubishi HS-HD2000U or JVC HM-DH40000, etc. These are nearly as good as a Panasonic AG1980, without the nasty electronic issues. They're expensive, but a better investment than a decrepit old Panasonic or JVC SVHS model.
My take-away - admittedly mostly from just this thread - was that the 1980/5710 is without doubt the best choice for recovery of home-made tapes, that it was much better built than anything comparable, and that in the rare case where a repair might be needed it could easily be accomplished. (I note a mention of some other machine that might do better with certain tapes, but I'm hoping to buy just one.)
See above. Times change. High-end VCRs and dvd recorders age badly: recommendations that were valid fifteen, ten, even three years ago no longer apply. A Ferrari is an amazing car until it gets a few years under its belt and starts needing repairs, some fine boutique wines can turn to vinegar if not consumed within a certain window. Second-hand Hasselblad Zeiss lenses are incredible until the shutter dies, then good luck finding a skilled repair tech who'll fix it for less than you paid for the entire camera.
The future ain't what it used to be.