VCR Question for my Dad who's miserable with the new HD tv we got him. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 4 Old 05-12-2014, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Forget the part where I try to get him to view network TV on the HD channels instead of 2, 4, etc.

He's 85 years old and has most of his adult memories on VHS.In addition to that, my parents constantly record the Soap Operas when they are out, and teaching my dad to record on a DVD recorder using RW disks will be next to impossible.

 

For his birthday we got him a 55" HD tv. It has plenty of HDMI inputs plus 1 component and 1 video input, plus the Ant coax.This replaced their old Standard Def 52" Hitachi rear projection TV

 

I have his VCR connected to the standard red/wht/yellow video inputs. Picture is all wobbly,  Tried using the Ant input and set the TV to Ant, then channel 3,  Same thing.

 

What could be the issue?  is it simply the resolution conflict?  and if so, is there a converter I can get him to fix this?

 

I could get him a new vcr/dvd combo, but it's just not worth spending $200+ for one of those, and it still may not fix his issue.

 

I can't seem to find an answer to this question anywhere online.

 

I know somebody here will have the answer,  and hopefully it won't be "Tell him to step up to BluRay" which is obviously not the solution.

 

Somebody please save me from having to find the biggest Tube TV I can find him on Craigslist!

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post #2 of 4 Old 05-12-2014, 03:34 PM
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Unfortunately while VHS can look pretty decent on a tube or RPJ TV, a razor sharp flat screen tends to accentuate all the formats flaws :( The wobbly picture you describe is a fairly common complaint when displaying iffy VHS material on a flat screen TV. You could try turning down the sharpness and decreasing the contrast to help hide it but it will still be there, just less noticeable. Hopefully his TV will have the ability to set different picture settings for each input, that way you could have his other inputs including HDTV set to a brighter sharper picture and only when he selects VHS will it dumb down the picture.

You could  try different VCRs, some tend to mask the effect more than others. A Panasonic combo I had was particularly bad for poor quality tapes and every flaw was amplified, a pristine tape looked better than other VCRs I had but for iffy tapes I'd use one of my other VCRs like Samsung or even a Mitsubishi handled those type of tapes better.

I ran into a similar thing at my fathers who used to have a Sony Trinatron tube TV, his VHS tapes looked OK on it but HD through his CECB didn't look so great. I got him a medium sized LCD and while the HD and even SD DVDs looked great his VHS looked quite poor. After seeing how the looked he quickly switched to DVDs or a HDD as his recording medium. He purchased a Magnavox HDD DVDR which programs like a VCR and now he does the vast majority of his recording on the HDD and never even bothers copying things to DVD, he just records, watches and then deletes. If one can operate a VCR it's possible a DVDR such as a Magnavox may be your parents ticket. While not HD it looks much better than VHS on a sharp flat screen.

What to do with all their old VHS tapes?? just recently my father finally realized he'll probably never watch them again so slowly he's been tossing them which is good, I would also never watch them in a million years, for one the quality is atrocious as he mainly used SLP(EP) and lots of time he had ghosting issues as he was recording.

The Magnavox DVDR has all outputs including HDMI which would make hooking it up to a flat screen very easy.

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post #3 of 4 Old 05-13-2014, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrizzo2001 View Post
 

Forget the part where I try to get him to view network TV on the HD channels instead of 2, 4, etc.

He's 85 years old and has most of his adult memories on VHS.In addition to that, my parents constantly record the Soap Operas when they are out, and teaching my dad to record on a DVD recorder using RW disks will be next to impossible.

 

For his birthday we got him a 55" HD tv. It has plenty of HDMI inputs plus 1 component and 1 video input, plus the Ant coax.This replaced their old Standard Def 52" Hitachi rear projection TV

 

I have his VCR connected to the standard red/wht/yellow video inputs. Picture is all wobbly,  Tried using the Ant input and set the TV to Ant, then channel 3,  Same thing.

 

What could be the issue?

 

Did the old 52-in rear-projection TV have the wobbly picture on the same tape that you see the wobble on the 55-in HD TV?

 

If the composite video signal has some wobble, it is possible that some TVs may do a better job of detecting the variation in the start of each line and adjust than other TVs.

 

As far as what can cause the wobble in the signal, it could be from several possibilities.

Possible Cause Solution
Dirty or contaminated tape path Clean the VCR. Could start with a "cleaning tape". In the height of my VCR recording days, I would use a cleaning tape monthly. (If using a DVD/VCR combo, check if it automatically cleans the heads, though a cleaning tape may help the rest of the path.)
Belt slippage Replace the belts. Over time the belts get a bit brittle and don't apply the same force on the grooved wheels like they used to. If paying a professional, it used to cost as much for a technician to unscrew the top cover as it would to buy a new VCR, but now that it is near impossible to buy a VCR and one generally gets a DVD/VCR combo, I don't know how prices compare.
VHS tape is warped

The tape in the VHS cassette should wind up nice and smooth. If you look into the window and the tape is quite uneven (mental picture: like trying to rewind clean TP on a cardboard tube), if it doesn't have precious memories on it, it is time to toss and start the time-shifting with a new VHS cassette. Hopefully by now everyone who still use VHS cassettes know that for storage, the tape should be stored on its edge (on the 1-in x 7.5-in edge, or even on the 1-in x 4-in top or bottom), but not on its face (not on the 4-in x 7.5-in face or bottom) because storing on face or bottom would over time cause the tape to warp far more than storing the tape on one of its edges).

 

If the tape has precious memories, one may want to transfer it to a better medium as soon as one can. If it is a pre-recorded tape that has some show or movie on it, one might search Amazon.com or other site to get a replacement copy (hopefully on disc if your dad can play that disc).

 

I am guessing that your dad has cable or satellite since you refer to SD and HD channels. If so, can you demo a DVR or TiVo to him? I found a HD DVR rented from Comcast easier to manage than trying to program channel/start time/end time in two VCRs and using a third VCR for playing back the program just to timeshift. (It's not a solution for long-term archive; for that, one needs a different recording medium.) After I replaced my VCRs and decrepit analog TV with a HD DVR and a modern TV, by the next day I had one regret: I regretted that I didn't do that years earlier! And it was pretty easy to learn how to use. And, in the almost 2 years I have had that modern TV and HD DVR, with the exception of The Midnight Movie, I have never seen the picture wobble, but I have with too-well-used VHS tapes. (The Midnight Movie seems to have issues; I wonder if they ship VHS tapes to the public access channel studios; the video quality is way below par.)

 

And, yes, as jjeff noted, a big-screen TV acts like a microscope to make any video issue painfully obvious. It is sometimes aggravating to watch a DVD of an old show that was preserved only on magnetic tape or, worse, back in the 1950s when a film camera would film a TV screen. Sometimes I end up wishing for a smaller TV. Fortunately, far more often I am thankful for a big TV so I can see detail for a show that was recorded with something a bit more modern than stone and chisel.


My very humble setup:
Man Cave:Vizio E500i-A1 "Smart TV" (50-in 1080p 120Hz LED/LCD, has Netflix app.), Sony BDP-S3100 Blu-ray player, Roku N1000 (original model), PC (Windows 7), Comcast Internet (120Mbps/12Mbps).
Bedroom:LG 32LV3400-UA TV (32-in 768p 60Hz LED/LCD), HD DVR (Motorola RNG200N), Xfinity Comcast cable (Digital Preferred Plus), DVD/VHS player.
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-18-2014, 11:43 AM
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Check eBay or craigslist and look for an old JVC s-vhs with TBC (time based correction). The 7000 series and 9000 series were excellent machines and should help with the newer recordings. Another nice feature of these machines is that the tracking self-adjusts to get the best out of the tapes recorded on another machine. Also S-VHS-ET, which allows over 400 lines of resolution instead of 330.

These go for a premium due to the quality of the picture they produce, so it won't be cheap, if you can find them at all. That said, the picture may still not look all that great on a digital TV ... nature of the beast, but it'll be the best it can be.

Here's one:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/JVC-HR-S7600...item3a93439497

Last edited by RayGuy; 07-18-2014 at 11:53 AM.
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