Originally Posted by DocCarbon
Will any working VCR handle the transfer task ?. I've got a couple of NIB Magnavox's I purchased from Costco years back for cheap
Most any VCR will give you passable results. If your NIB Magnavox VCRs are from at least ten years ago, they're probably pretty good, but if they're just a couple years old they may not be great. Parts quality declined after 1999 for Philips/Magnavox VCRs.
Phillips sent the info on this unit , an I realize it''s NOT HDD , as I could find no reference.
Unit / Philips DVD recorder/VCR DVDR3545V
It isn't clear what you're asking: is this the NIB VCR you got from CostCo a few years ago? Or did you contact Philips/Magnavox for info, and their clunky marketing department sent you info on this discontinued model from 2008? If this is the VCR you already have, you could try it and see what happens. This model is not known for reliability or good VCR performance, but since you already own it theres no harm checking if the results will please you. Odds are it wont be durable enough to play hundreds of tapes, though.
The question of which VCR to use for digitizing VHS gets real complicated, real fast, depending on how "picky" you are about picture quality. The majority of VCRs made after 1996 have very different playback from earlier models, and the change was not for the better in most cases. The video output on newer VCRs is grainy and noisy compared to older models, making the DVD copies look kind of blah. There isn't much you can do to make it better unless you have a lot of time and a lot of skill with PC video tools.
Without a PC intervention, you're limited to simply changing VCRs in the hope one will play better than another. There are some "affordable" VCRs that are much better than average in reliability and slightly better at playback (you'd need to check Craigs List or eBay because they're all discontinued). As a short list, you could look for JVC HR-S5912 (or any 3900 or 5900 model), Quasar VHQ860 or 960, Panasonic PV-4520 or 4521, or any Sharp 4-head HiFi model. These usually go for $30 or less. In the $40-$50 range, look for a Panasonic AG-2560 or Mitsubishi HS-U448 or 449.
For quite a bit more money, you can get noticeable improvements (depending on the tape) by using a deluxe SVHS or DVHS model with the TBC/DNR feature. These have special circuits that clear up the usual graininess and color noise. But these fancy VCRs can be a tricky purchase for multiple reasons. They tend to run $99-399 depending on condition and model, and if you don't want repair headaches you're talking closer to $400 than $100 for a serviced VCR or newer model. The most popular deluxe VCRs are the Panasonic AG-1980 and various JVC SVHS models like HR-S9911, but their popularity means they've changed hands several times and you're likely to get one that needs expensive service. The picture improvement circuits backfire about 50% of the time, causing artifacts you don't want. For someone who is very picky about PQ and is willing to tolerate risk of ongoing expense, the TBC/DNR models do offer significant benefits. Just be aware it comes at a high cost in $$$ and aggravation.
Also bear in mind that in the not-too-distant future, all our efforts to make the "perfect" VHS dubs will come to naught. Digitized VHS only really looks decent on a classic CRT television like Sony Trinitron, the minute you play it on a flat screen LCD it all goes to hell. Flat screens are optimized for HDTV signals, so are barely adequate for VHS. If you don't own a flat screen now, you probably will in a couple years. A good 32" LCD is about the limit for tolerable playback of digitized VHS, but good 32" sets are vanishing in favor of chintzy budget models and ever-larger screens. The typical 42" -50" screen popular today looks awful playing digitized VHS unless you sit a football field away. Complicating this is the steady disappearance of DVD players in favor of BluRay players, which aren't that great at DVD playback and tend to lock themselves into distorted widescreen formatting of DVDs made from VHS.
I don't say all this to scare you, DocCarbon, but to give some perspective. A lot of people put staggering effort and expense into their VHS transfers, which is fine if they enjoy it, but you can't count on the results being stable due to insanely rapid changes in display and player technology. What looks good on today's TV may look horrible on tomorrow's, although things may improve now that advanced OLED screen technology is finally headed toward reasonable prices. Personally, I've been pulling my hair out with unreliable high-end VCRs: the repair frequency and expense is killing me. The TBC/DNR feature seems helpful until I play my discs on other people's TVs and it makes my eyes bleed: once you hit a certain screen size, you can't tell a DVD made with a $400 VCR from a DVD made with a $20 VCR (they both look... sad). Have realistic expectations, and you won't be disappointed.Edited by CitiBear - 7/10/12 at 5:47pm