You want to get one of the high-end JVC models: HR-S7800 or above. They don't necessarily have a better tuner than other good VCRs, but they have by far the best tape playback. They're the only units below pro prices that include a digital time base corector. Possibly more important for your use, because they are SVHS decks you can get S-video out to your plasma when you use it as a tuner.
I tried a number of VCRs with my Panny plasma, and the JVC 7900 beat them all by a BIG visible margin.
I have the same exact model as you.It was absolutely hands down the best svhs vcr I have ever used.This is coming from a guy who literally auditioned ever svhs (jvc,tosiba,phillips,panasonic)vcr ever made.Best picture,cleanest signal.
My wife uses it to tune cable(with, for cable,very nice results)I usually only watch directv or dish or replaytv..
Who are you going to believe,me or your lying eyes?
I am using a General Instrument DCT-2000 cable converter box which has both RF out and separate video and single audio outputs. This is going to a TIVO with S-video out, to my Panny plasma. I am currently using an RF cable between the G.I. box and Tivo. The TV signal on the plasma is pretty pathetic. Will I see any discernable difference if I use the separate A/V output instead of RF? Cablevision in my area doesn't have any more advanced equipment available.(in addition to not broadcasting the Yankee games)