Merely contributing an observation here, reinforcing what Citibear said: back around 1997 I picked up a Mitsu VCR to replace a JVC that gave a mere 4 years of service, with ever-increasing tracking problems until it gave up the ghost. I ran the Mitsu tres hard - it was basically my only VCR for several years - and I *still* have it. Hope to use it to dub tapes originally made on it to DVD-R. (Yeah, like many folks here, I have a yet-to-be-finished dubbing project for which I purchased my first Panasonic DVDR in....2004.)
I replaced the original Mitsu in daily service with an HS-U748 that ran and ran for years before developing what I have assumed were power supply problems. Sometimes I'd plug it in and it would work, other times it was deader than a door nail. No complaints, though - I ran it hard.
I will agree that a JVC, when it's running well with heads aligned to track properly *will* give have superior PQ to the Mitsus....but only by a little bit. The slight difference never bothered me. However, I will say the later JVCs, though lightly built like all early 2000s VCRs, seemed a bit more forgiving of tapes made at SLP speed on other VCRs. Had an S-VHS model that I used to dub a lot of marginal somewhat touchy tapes.
Also had a Panasonic that ran well and had a very handy feature I really liked (would automatically fast forward past commercials - sweet!). But its heads were misaligned. It would play back its own tapes beautifully, but had continual tracking errors with tapes made on other machines. And its tapes displayed the same problem when played back on other machines. So an excellent time-shifting machine but not good for "keeper" tapes.
Oh....ugly Blue Screen. I want to say at least some VCRs (maybe JVCs?) had an option in the Settings menu that let you shut it off. I'm pretty sure I did that a few times with tapes that had tracking problems so I could make a DVD dub. Otherwise, the screen'd periodically "blue out" during playback.
Man....about 5 years ago, I was picking up backup VCRs (mostly Mitsus and a few Sharps) from Amazon for the price of lunch each. If I hurry up and finish the dubbing project, maybe I can sell 'em and recoup my modest investment!
P.S. MAFLP: hang in there, stay patient, and keep looking. A well-preserved VCR may drop in your lap when you least expect it!