Originally Posted by Super Eye
To me it’s a no brainier!
Do I buy a 25 year old, probably overused VCR or do I buy an almost new, top of the line refurbished by the manufacture VCR that comes with a warrantee from a reputable dealer?
It's not that cut-and-dried. Those who rush out to buy something just because its "new with a warrantee" or God help you "refurbished with a warrantee" are often the first ones to come back here crying that they made a huge mistake. When it comes to electronics, VCRs in particular, "new" often means "made like crap". Also, there are many cases of older one-off models with features and/or performance unavailable in anything new. The Panasonic AG-1980 and AG-W1 are such models: you can't get their performance from any other machine, period, new or old. The AG1980 has a specific type of killer TBC/DNR exclusive to it alone, and the AG-W1 is probably the best-quality PAL-NTSC internal-conversion VCR. These models were found in every post-production house I worked at, with good reason. Consider the prices these things sold for when new: in the vicinity of $1299-$1499. Thats the equivalent of about $2500 today, for that kind of money 20 years ago mfrs had to provide high performance, durability and repairability
. That last is key: today nothing under $1000 is actually repairable, its disposable. An "ancient 25 year old" AG1980 bought for $99 is easily serviced and brought up to original specifications for under $100, meaning for $200 total you have an incredible VCR that will likely work perfectly under hard use for the rest of your life.
The JVC (and similar Mitsubishi) DVHS machines are in a different class altogether. Their chassis are flimsy and far less durable than an AG1980, and their goofball DVHS subsystems make them more complicated and sensitive to power line issues, etc. The Mitsubishis are a bit sturdier due to not having the spurious A/D/A converters found in the JVCs, which cause the JVCs to run extremely hot to no real advantage. Aside from all that, until very recently the DVHS units sold at a ridiculous price premium over a used AG1980, usually around $400. At that price they were a poor value for anyone but the two dozen DVHS fetishists who actually used their crippled HDTV-on-VHS capabilities: as players for regular VHS/SVHS they were overpriced and overkill. Today, however, the JVC DT100 is available from Vanns or B&H for about $229, and the Mitsubishi is around for about the same $. That levels the playing field and makes the DVHS machines competitive with the AG1980.
The catch, of course, is people with extensive VHS libraries dating back more than 10 years will need both
types of VCR. The AG1980 is unequaled at some things, like tracking and jitter reduction on old or slow-speed tapes, while the JVC/Mitsubishi DVHS units can perform less "lossy" cleanup and filtering of better-quality original tapes. Each has capabilities the other can't quite match, often a tape that won't play at all on the AG1980 will play fine on a DVHS (and vice-versa). Since my tape library dates back to 1981, I keep a number of VCRs in rotation: an AG1980, an AG2560, a JVC SR-VD400 DVHS, a Mitsubishi HS-HD2000 DVHS, and several "lower-end" vcrs from different mfrs. If I had to choose just one, it would probably be the AG1980 as its proven the most compatible with the most tapes, but I'd rather have the DVHS alternatives handy as well. Most of the DVHS models are OK and perform similarly, the only caveats would be to avoid the Mitsubishi HS-HD1000 (because only the 2000 has the TBC/DNR), and avoid the older JVC units with five digit model numbers (like 30000) because of heat/reliability issues. The MGA HS-HD2000, or any of the three-digit JVCs like the DT100 or SR-VD400, are the optimal DVHS models for playing standard VHS and SVHS. If you're extraordinarily
lucky, you might track down the rarest-of-the-rare vcr: a JVC WVHS model. These were made for the Japanese analog HDTV market, at a quality level never seen before or since (not surprising, since they sold for $5000). Now and then a JVC SW5C or SW7C shows up in North American pawn shops or on eBay, how on earth they got here I don't know but some members obtain them somehow. They are the finest VHS players ever made, they make the AG1980 or current DVHS models look pathetic by comparison and they outperform even the best studio vhs decks. Unfortunately they are scarcer than scarce.