Originally Posted by DrCheese
afiak it was only supported with new blank media and some very basic players during the last 10/12 odd years of its life. It certainly wasn't supported with decent releases from any major Hollywood studio's. I'd also say that betamax was the exception, rather than the norm because Sony's broadcast version, Betacam was very VERY popular for TV stations so it was probably only a small cost to continue to produce home betamax equipment.
Why do people think this? Betamax and the professional Betacam system had NOTHING
, except for the size of the shell, in common with each other (which was only used for the "small" version of Betacam - the larger tape shell was more along the lines of VHS). Transports and electronics were completely different - they had nothing to share. Betacam units couldn't even play or use Betamax tapes. Sony even abandoned the much-vaunted "U-Load" threading mechanism in most Betacam systems, opting for the more-compact and less persnickity M-Load.
Back in the 'heyday' of the VHS/Beta format war, Sony's, uh, strategies were certaily werid. They flooded the market with a huge number of low-end "EZ-Beta" units - some with only 5-dollar price differences. And they stabbed Zenith in the back so many times that Zenith finally felt the need to cut their losses and defect out of the Beta camp. Sony's response to Super-VHS was pathetic - ED-Beta was a dog of a format - ooooh, 500 (ahem) lines of resolution with 30 lines of color, complete with too high a price - too exciting! They steadfastly refused to produce a Betamovie with in-unit playback and electronic viewfinder, despite the fact that those features were causing VHS VideoMovie units, both small and full-size, to sell like gang-busters. That's why Sanyo dropped Betamovie support after only a few years. Oh, and the Marantz high-end Dolby-C Linear Stereo Betamax unit - Sony really, really shafted Marantz on that one, not disclosing to Marantz that Beta Hi-Fi was due to be introduced in a few months. It cost Marantz so badly that they never produced another Beta unit.
In terms of pre-recorded movies though, you could get pre-recorded tapes of every new release up until 1993 or so. You might have to pre-order or special order it, but you COULD get them. And, after Super Beta came out, all prerecorded Beta Hi-Fi tapes were recorded with a compatible 'version' of Super Beta, giving them a better picture than their VHS counterparts. It wasn't the full SuperBeta carrier shift, but it was better than standard Beta and VHS. That's one of the few things Sony did right! Oh, and they did treat their original one-hour Betamax owners wonderfully, flat-out giving them the mechanical BetaStack tape changer. That's one thing, as a VHS owner, I always envied about Beta owners, was the BetaStack units. They were too cool!