Quantcast Choosing quality PAL VCR(s)? - digitalFAQ Forum
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07-18-2021, 06:47 AM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Hi everyone,
Finally managed to get my family's old VHS tapes shipped over, only to find they're not the 'classic' VHS tapes, but VHS-C, so I had to drastically change my plans(wanted to get JVC first). I have about 30 VHS-C tapes from 1998-2003ish, so about 20 years old. My desktop of choice customised for capturing has the following specs:
Dell Dimension 5150 mini-tower
-Intel Pentium D 820 Dual-Core 2.8GHz
-2GB DDR2 400MHz RAM
-153GB Boot HDD SATA II
-1TB Captured Output Storage HDD SATA II
-Windows XP Professional x32 Retail Version(planning to upgrade to SP2)
-ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 7500 VE PCI card(pending driver installation)
-Turtle Beach Santa Cruz PCI card(pending testing and driver installation)
Any suggestions and feedback on the above specs would be greatly appreciated! I'm currently in the process of paying for a refurbished DataVideo TBC-1000(modded to directly pass video signals to/from the TBC-100 inside, distribution amp removed) too. So my planned workflow would be quality VCR -> DataVideo TBC-1000 -> ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 7500 VE. This is a good capture workflow right?

Now for the main questions. My parents kept a JVC CP7U(bless!) motorised VHS-C adapter, which I believe is a 'safe' option, and I'm planning to first capture all of my VHS-C tapes as-is, using the adapter in a quality Panasonic VCR, and once I have these 'backup' copies I'm planning to buy unwanted 'classic' VHS tapes from eBay to respool my VHS-C tapes back into the 'classic' VHS shell so they can be safely captured in most VCRs, especially a JVC one. Would this be a good plan? Also, I scoured vcrshop.nl and eBay for quality VCRs and would appreciate some advice to choose one/two good ones to complete my capture workflow:
1a) Panasonic NV-FS200(the legend itself!) €249 (~$294), comes with remote and power adapter. Seller says that he has cleaned the video, audio, record and erase heads inside with isopropyl alcohol, applied new lubricant, changed the pick-up motor(translated from German, not sure what the technical term is), fixed the display for better brightness, corrected the tape path alignment with an oscilloscope, changed the known-problematic capacitors and replaced broken components. He says that he will ensure proper packaging as well. He says he has a lot of spare parts, and also 'many years of experience with Panasonic VCRs', so sounds like he knows what he is doing, and he has general positive reviews so he seems like an honest seller with decent knowledge.
1b) Another Panasonic NV-FS200 €500 (~$590) from eBay. Seller provides 2 year warranty, and when asked he told me he will arrange free repair and cover return shipping costs even in the event of capacitor failures. Plus 1-month eBay returns. He has recently sent it for servicing 3 months ago. Comes with remote and power cable. Seller has generally positive reviews too. What most attracts me is the 2-year warranty, which should protect me from all sorts of capacitor and other Panasonic craziness during capturing.
1c) Yet another Panasonic NV-FS200 €299 (~$353) from eBay. Seller claims 6 months warranty, and that the unit is refurbished with the head replaced. He promised to send a test video on WhatsApp before shipping too, which is nice. Comes with remote, and I would presume the power cable then. Seller has 100% positive feedback, and sells a variety of other video equipment. One review even mentioned that he/she had an issue, and the seller immediately helped to resolve(no details provided, but good to hear). So seems to be an honest seller too. And good to know that the unit has been serviced with the head replaced even.
2a) Panasonic NV-HS1000 €400 (~$472) from vcrshop. No need to introduce this seller I believe, haven't asked seller about when the unit has been last serviced(I believe it's good to know), but I trust that his/her units are well-maintained. Doesn't have a remote, but not a big deal(can just eBay one). Not very keen on this Panasonic model, since I heard its TBC is a bit quirky, but it's a recommended model on this forum so I'm willing to consider it.
2b) Panasonic AG-4700 €500 (~$500) from vcrshop. Classified this together with the NV-HS1000 as I heard they're very similar in terms of the chipset and head inside(correct me if I'm wrong). A little too expensive for my taste, I don't really see any pros vs the NV-HS1000 or NV-FS200 for the extra price it commands, but I'm guessing it might have seen less usage since it's less 'known'?
3a) Panasonic NV-FS88 €200 (~$353) from vcrshop. I know this is not the most recommended model due to the lack of TBC and the fact that this is not a prosumer/professional deck so (past) users might not have been very gentle with it, but I'm willing to consider this option to save on budget by getting another ES10/ES15 to make up for the TBC problem. No remote, but good price. Probably should ask the seller when's the last time this has been serviced as well.
3b) Panasonic NV-FS88 €150 (~$177) with remote. Seller only claims that it is serviced/FB(what's that mean?), and that it's 'very good'. Newly created account since Jan 2021(slightly dubious there), sells just a few other electronics like desktops and a vintage audio cassette player, seems like just some random normal guy without a particular knowledge of electronics. Not many reviews, so probably gonna be a gamble. Should I bother questioning him to understand the condition of the deck?
3c) Panasonic NV-FS88 €150 (~$177) with remote and 'original Panasonic VHS-C adapter'(model number not mentioned). Seller claims it is used to digitise his/her collecton of VHS/S-VHS tapes, and thus is extensively tested, 'no defects'. Also the deck is 'visually and functionally in very good condition'. Panasonic VHS-C adapter included is also 'fully functional'. Haven't asked him/her any questions yet, might consider asking for the VHS-C adapter model number and to check the inside for capacitor issues. Seller has generally positive feedback, but only sells random household items otherwise so doesn't seem like a very technical person.
3d) Panasonic DMR-ES10 €59 (~$70) from same seller as 1a so I am inclined to trust in its quality.
3e) Panasonic DMR-ES10 $90 from eBay. Seller says that the power supply capacitors have been replaced already, and should 'last many years', and that he/she has cleaned the spindle and lens. However the display is very dim, but seller has tested the unit and is able to record DVD discs with a Nintendo as video input and it finalises the dics successfully. Comes with power adapter, no remote. Returnable if device arrives non-working. Seller has 100% positive feedbacks, including one saying he/she provides excellent tech support. His other items on sale are CD players and audio cassette players, so he should be better than those lousy recyclers on eBay.
3f) Panasonic DMR-ES10 $130 from eBay. Seller says it's 'tested'(not another of those guys), but provides free 30-day returns so if I test properly it should be fine. No remote. Seller has 95% positive feedback, problems are mostly for random clothing because he/she shipped wrongly. Doesn't seem to be a video/audio/electronics guy, sells a lot of clothes.
3g) Panasonic DMR-ES15 $93 from eBay. Seller says it 'works great', includes a photo of him/her playing something on a TV(not exactly convincing). Comes with remote. Seller has 100% positive feedback, one of which claims a DVD recorder was packaged well, so that's great to hear. Sells a lot of random household items, so doesn't seem like a video/audio/electronics person either. Also returns accepted within 14 days, but buyer pays return shipping. Not ideal, but can work
3h) Panasonic DMR-ES15 $100(starting price for bid, 0 bids) from eBay, comes with remote. Seller says it's 'guaranteed to work', 'plays, records, finalises', so sounds semi-ok(don't know about the capacitors, my main worry). 99% positive feedback, one of which says the seller accepted returns for a non-functional Panasonic ES15(sounds an alarm for me there), another which says the seller goes above and beyond to resolve issues. Seller generally sells random household items, so not exactly a video/audio/electronics person. Returns accepted within 14 days, but buyer pays shipping. Not ideal, but can work.
3i) Panasonic DMR-ES15 $102 from eBay, no remote. Seller says it is tested and works, and it will be 'carefully wrapped and insured for shipping'. He/She also claims that 'if there are any obvious problems, I will point it out'(not sure if he/she is a video person and actually scrutinises video playback for 'problems' though). Seems like a collector, has a variety of vintage items for sale(old DVDs, toy figures) plus random electronics like Nintendo Switch/Xbox, don't seem like a video/audio/electronics person unfortunately. Feedback is 99% positive, including comments on good packaging and refunding full cost while keeping the item when things go wrong. 30 day returns, buyer paying return shipping(Singapore->US, rip money). Not ideal, but workable.
3j) A heck lot of other Panasonic DMR-ES15 on eBay, but too many and too short item descriptions to bother scrutinising.
4a) Panasonic NV-HS950 €280 (~$331) from eBay, with remote. Heard this deck shares the same drum as the Panasonic NV-HS1000, so supposedly same picture quality? also seems to be similar PCB as the legendary AG1980P? It's also a slightly newer model so might be 'safer', but not as 'well-known' so might be abused. Seller claims it's checked and 'everything works and everything turns'(translated, but doesn't sound very 'professional'). Pictures show that the deck is in good physical condition. Shipping weight is 8kg, so that should mean proper packaging right? Seller seems like a collector, has thousands of vintage items(old books, electronics, art), but doesn't have a particular concentration of electronics so probably not a 'professional' electronics person. Reviews are 99% positive, some complaints but seller says he/she has refunded them so should be ok. 30-day returns, buyer pays return shipping. Not ideal, but workable.
4b) Panasonic NV-HS950 €300 (~$354) from vcrshop, no remote. Nothing much to say other than that.
4c) Panasonic NV-HS950 €300 (~$354) from same seller as 1b), has the same 2 year warranty, with remote. Haven't asked when this deck is last serviced. Physically seems to be in very good condition, not much scratches or dents. 30 days returns, full refund and return shipping covered by seller. Seems alright, especially with the 2 years warranty(should be well-done with my digitisation within 2 years, I hope)
5a) JVC HR-S7722EU €300 (~$354) from vcrshop, with remote. One of the cheapest JVC VCR I can find with all the important features, and approved by lordsmurf. Not much else to say here.
5b) JVC HR-S7700EU €169 (~$200) from a German seller, with remote. Seller claims it 'runs perfectly', 'very good picture and very good sound'. Attached pictures of two films played on TV seem ok, no visible visual artifacts. Seller is willing to provide 'video of testing the device', so I can maybe ask him to test specific things to ensure all the important functions are working, maybe even take a picture of the internal circuits. Seller also willing to provide shock-proof packaging, so that's great too. Seller sells a few audio electronics and one DSLR, so he/she should have a decent sense of audio/picture quality. A little risky to ship as no returns or warranty in the event of problems, but seller has a generally positive rating and the price is good.
6) JVC HR-S7950EU €350 (~$413) from vcrshop, no remote. Nothing much else to say here, have confirmed that this model has all the important features needed for quality capturing.
7) JVC HR-S9600EU €250 (~$295) from German seller, comes with original JVC box(damn) and (seems to be all) accessories(SCART cable, RCA cable, remote, power adapter). Problem is seller has no VHS tapes so he cannot test the device. Seller claims the deck is in 'good condition', and has been 'packed and stored in a dry place years ago', no idea whether the device has deteriorated. No warranty or returns, so a gamble here. Sells a bunch of digital movie DVDs and game accessories, plus a vintage CD player and a vintage car radio, so should have basic electronics knowledge. Not ideal though, unless gambling for a JVC S9600EU is worth(kinda? but risky though)

A few additional questions:
a) My plan is to get a quality Panasonic VCR(considering 1a) and a quality JVC VCR(considering 5a), are these good choices?
b) If not 1a, I'm considering getting a Panasonic NV-FS88 + Panasonic ES10/ES15 to save costs. In this case, does anyone know if the line TBC in the ES10/ES15 is compatible with both NTSC & PAL or region-locked? Because I can only find NTSC(because US sellers, so I'm assuming NTSC since it's not specified) ES10/ES15s, besides one German ES15 that's definitely PAL(3d above).
c) Is respooling from VHS-C to VHS shells 'safe'? I have no experience with VHS/VHS-C tapes, but I'm planning to buy many unwanted VHS/VHS-C tapes from eBay to practice respooling and also test that respooling doesn't hurt picture/sound quality. Would that be sufficient? Read somewhere on this forum that there can be tape alignment issues if manually respooled, so I'm hesitant
d) I'm planning to test my Panasonic VCR(whichever I eventually choose) with a few unwanted VHS-C tapes I got online and my JVC CP7U adapter to ensure my adapter is working fine, and the tapes don't get mangled or damaged this way. Will that be enough precaution to prevent damage to my precious family VHS-C tapes? No idea what's the physical condition of my tapes, but my relatives have helped digitise a few of them successfully(using normal consumer VCRs, so not ideal, hence I'm trying again here), so I presume they're ok? And won't get 'eaten' by a Panasonic? Definitely won't risk putting them into a JVC though.

Sorry for the super long post and many questions! I really really appreciate any suggestions as I doubt my analog electronics knowledge even after some research, being born into the digital age and growing up with SD cards and Windows XP and all . And I'm still young, so I doubt my ability to spend money wisely/productively(my dad always criticises me about this oops) also, would be great to have more experienced people advice me on my purchases. Thanks so much!

Last edited by haoyangw; 07-18-2021 at 07:19 AM. Reason: Formatting
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  #2  
07-18-2021, 01:58 PM
latreche34 latreche34 is offline
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The attention span is very short nowadays and I can guarantee you that most of us will not read 100 lines post, what is exactly your main concern in few short lines?
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  #3  
07-18-2021, 07:38 PM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Haha in short, a few questions. First, context: ~30 VHS-C tapes(Panasonic, TBK) from 1998-2003ish, already have a JVC CP7U VHS-C adapter, planning to get Panasonic deck and use adapter to get 'backup' digital captures, then respell the tapes into 'classic' VHS shell, capture them with a JVC deck.
-Main question, choosing between:
a) Panasonic NV-FS200, two sources:
  1. $294: German seller who claims years of experience with Panasonic decks + has spare parts and refurbished it like new (my top choice)
  2. $590: eBay seller who provides 2 year warranty, including for capacitor issues. More expensive
b) Panasonic NV-FS88 + Panasonic ES10/ES15(budget option)
c) Panasonic NV-HS1000 from vcrshop(heard the TBC is a bit quirky?)
d) Panasonic AG-4700 from vcrshop
e) Panasonic NV-HS950(heard this model has same drum and circuitry as the NV-HS1000), two sources:
  1. $354: vcrshop, no remote
  2. 354 same eBay seller as a) option 2. 2 years warranty
f) JVC HR-S7700EU/S7722EU, two sources:
  1. $354: S7722EU from vcrshop, with remote
  2. $200: S7700EU from German seller, claims it runs perfectly, willing to provide video of test footage
g) JVC HR-S7950EU from vcrshop
h) JVC HR-S9600EU, two sources:
  1. $590 from vcrshop, no remote
  2. $295 from German seller, no warranty/returns, untested as he/she has no VHS tapes. A gamble

Side questions:
1) Planning to get a) option 1(Panasonic NV-FS200 for $294), f) option 1(JVC HR-S7722EU from vcrshop $354). Good choices?
2) If not Panasonic NV-FS200, Panasonic NV-FS88 + Panasonic ES10/ES15 a good budget second option?
3) Respooling from VHS-C to VHS shell 'safe'? Planning to buy ~50 unwanted 'classic' VHS tapes and ~30 unwanted VHS-C tapes to practice respooling and test JVC CP7U adapter + VHS-C tape in Panasonic deck to test if there's potential risk of tape damage. Sufficient precaution?

-Planned capture workflow:
Panasonic/JVC deck -> green Cypress AVT-8710 -> ATI All-In-Wonder 7500 VE PCI + Turtle Beach Santa Cruz
Decent workflow right?

-Capture rig specs:
Dell Dimension 5150 mini-tower
-Intel Pentium D 820 Dual-Core 2.8GHz
-2GB DDR2 400MHz RAM
-153GB Boot HDD SATA II
-1TB Captured Output Storage HDD SATA II
-Windows XP Professional x32 Retail Version(planning to upgrade to SP2)
-ATI Radeon All-In-Wonder 7500 VE PCI card
-Turtle Beach Santa Cruz PCI card
Would work fine for capturing right? Powerful enough?

Hope this is much more readable! Bad habit of lengthy essays

Last edited by haoyangw; 07-18-2021 at 07:42 PM. Reason: wrong cypress model no
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  #4  
07-18-2021, 08:22 PM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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Pc specs seems ok.

If you are asking whether to go for a Panasonic or JVC, I would lean towards one of the panasonics as in my experience the JVC TBC can be a bit hit and miss with camcorder tapes. Some others here are better versed in the difference in quality between them, I've only used the HS1000 personally. The HS950 is a bit newer than the HS1000, it doesn't use the same drum afaik, similar head amp and same mech, but the playback circuitry is part digital and quite different to the older HS1000 and FS200. Can't really comment on what it means in practice though. FS88 is same as FS200 without TBC board and front inputs.

The PAL ES10, ES15 (and most other panasonic dvd-recorders) support both PAL and (standard) NTSC, the TBC function works any system the model supports (even SECAM from what I've seen others report). The NTSC (North american ones) are NTSC only so you don't want one of those if you are doing PAL tapes. Most PAL panasonic dvd-recorders, at least from 2006 models (ES10, EH50 etc, avoid the ES20 which has a different chipset) contain line-TBC functionality, though the ES10 may be a tad more resilient than later ones on very bad tapes, so ES10 and ES15 are not the only alternatives there. Most of them do have the downside of clipping brights though unless the video level is manually adjusted in some way before entering them. The display getting dim is normal as far as I know and nothing to worry about, the power supply caps do tend go bad eventually as noted, so if they haven't been replaced that's always a risk, though replacing them is pretty straight forward if you have ever used a soldering iron.

I don't think it's worth respooling tapes unless they are either damaged, or it's one of the rare 60 minute VHSC tapes as those are a bit dodgy. Do be wary that due to the extra weight of the adapter the VCR may push the tape out a bit hard (especially the HS1000) so you want to make sure you hold your hand in front of the tape door when ejecting it.
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  #5  
07-19-2021, 12:46 AM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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PM lordsmurf and he may be to help you decide on a model and find a reputable seller. Buying from unknown sources is too much of a risk.
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  #6  
07-19-2021, 10:38 AM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgey View Post
Pc specs seems ok.

If you are asking whether to go for a Panasonic or JVC, I would lean towards one of the panasonics as in my experience the JVC TBC can be a bit hit and miss with camcorder tapes. Some others here are better versed in the difference in quality between them, I've only used the HS1000 personally. The HS950 is a bit newer than the HS1000, it doesn't use the same drum afaik, similar head amp and same mech, but the playback circuitry is part digital and quite different to the older HS1000 and FS200. Can't really comment on what it means in practice though. FS88 is same as FS200 without TBC board and front inputs.

The PAL ES10, ES15 (and most other panasonic dvd-recorders) support both PAL and (standard) NTSC, the TBC function works any system the model supports (even SECAM from what I've seen others report). The NTSC (North american ones) are NTSC only so you don't want one of those if you are doing PAL tapes. Most PAL panasonic dvd-recorders, at least from 2006 models (ES10, EH50 etc, avoid the ES20 which has a different chipset) contain line-TBC functionality, though the ES10 may be a tad more resilient than later ones on very bad tapes, so ES10 and ES15 are not the only alternatives there. Most of them do have the downside of clipping brights though unless the video level is manually adjusted in some way before entering them. The display getting dim is normal as far as I know and nothing to worry about, the power supply caps do tend go bad eventually as noted, so if they haven't been replaced that's always a risk, though replacing them is pretty straight forward if you have ever used a soldering iron.

I don't think it's worth respooling tapes unless they are either damaged, or it's one of the rare 60 minute VHSC tapes as those are a bit dodgy. Do be wary that due to the extra weight of the adapter the VCR may push the tape out a bit hard (especially the HS1000) so you want to make sure you hold your hand in front of the tape door when ejecting it.
Actually I would like to get one Panasonic and one JVC so I have greater chance of one of them playing back all/most of my tapes well, hence asking for the most suitable Panasonic and JVC deck. Thanks for the correction about the similarities and differences, will take note
Ah ok. Gonna be studying electrical engineering(specifically computer circuits) in college in 2 weeks so should be able to figure out the soldering/re-caping one day (hopefully). Good to know the line TBC is compatible with both, and there are more options out there.
Hmm ok frankly I'm lazy to respool too since I have to spend time practising and figuring it out Was just hoping that after respooling and capturing a second round there may be certain improvements that I can maybe take and 'blend' into the first round of captures using video editing to get the best digitised videos. Damn I've heard of that tape ejecting craziness before, thought that was just an edge/exceptional case lol. Thanks for the tips
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07-19-2021, 10:42 AM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
PM lordsmurf and he may be to help you decide on a model and find a reputable seller. Buying from unknown sources is too much of a risk.
Oh ok that'll be nice. I was hoping the German seller with years of experience with Panasonic decks would be an exception and be decent. The procedures he described in his listing sound 'professional' to my un-professional mind. But I know too little to judge Plus he offers a good price for the legendary NV-FS200
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07-19-2021, 11:35 PM
lingyi lingyi is offline
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IMO, there's no one more knowledgeable and picky than lordsmurf. Okay, okay ls, you're not picky, just speaking the truth!

Geez...I've been too nice lately. Gotta say something nasty...ls you old grouch! There, better!

Love you Blue Guy!
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  #9  
07-19-2021, 11:45 PM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
IMO, there's no one more knowledgeable and picky than lordsmurf. Okay, okay ls, you're not picky, just speaking the truth!

Geez...I've been too nice lately. Gotta say something nasty...ls you old grouch! There, better!

Love you Blue Guy!
Haha, when it comes to vintage stuff that's breaking down left and right it's important to be 'picky' in my opinion so we can get quality gear
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07-20-2021, 08:24 AM
hodgey hodgey is offline
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These ebay sellers that actually provide warranty and have proper knowledge about vcrs and similar like vcrshop, positron and similar should be pretty safe to buy from as you will have a warranty to go on after all if there are any issues. Feel free to actually link to the seller. Buying from random sellers who just briefly tested the VCR is of course a big gamble on the other hand. I don't know if there are any equivialents to vcrshop etc in North America (there is stuff like broadcaststore.com but they seem to deal more in broadcast VCRs and carry a hefty price tag), hence why many of the NA members here prefer to avoid ebay. I don't know if LS still has any PAL VCRs left for sale, though if he does there is also the extra shipping cost, VAT depending on country, and risk of sending a VCR from the US.
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  #11  
07-22-2021, 06:35 AM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Some additional, general thoughts about where to buy VCRs:
Is it worth the additional cost of getting a VCR with warranty(best, but $$$) or from trusted sellers like vcrshop(slightly less $$)? My main concern is the resale value. If I buy a cheaper unit that's a recommended/'renowned' model, I can probably resell it for about the price I bought it given the model's inherent value, and recover more of my investment. But I'm not sure if people would be willing to pay a higher price for the same model for warranty/better maintenance? Since after my own usage the model's no longer as 'pristine' as when I bought it, or the warranty might have expired, so it loses most of its 'worth' compared to cheaper units.
Because of the above concerns, I'm currently leaning more onto buying from some German sellers I've found online who offer cheaper prices than vcrshop/eBay sellers with warranty and detail the exact 'refurbishing' work they've done(if they can be bothered to describe it all and their steps sound legit they should be 'safe' right? most 'know-nothings' on eBay I see have really short listings). But of course I don't know what 'legit refurbishing' is so I need some professional assistance on that, if anyone's willing to help me 'vet' some German sellers PM me! That'll be greatly appreciated
I can afford the full cost of refurbished recommended models(have built up quite the savings), I'm just afraid of not being able to resell stuff off at a satisfactory price after I'm done with digitising, since I have a shelf full of unwanted electronics I've bought but nobody wanted to buy without heavy discounts(to be fair, I listed them on Singapore's 'flea market', where people only care about $$, not brand or specs or quality. listing them on digitalFAQ's marketplace is completely different I'm sure). And I don't have that many tapes, so losing a lot on resale value is not very worth.
Well, unless I take the losses as paying for an 'education' in analog hardware and old technology(I'm kind of excited!). Still cheaper than a college education am I right
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  #12  
07-29-2021, 01:46 AM
haoyangw haoyangw is offline
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Hmm, vcrshop.com seems to have restocked some Panasonic NV-FS200s for €399. A little expensive, still leaning on this German seller offering the Panasonic NV-FS200 refurbished for €249, plus he also sells a refurbished Panasonic ES10 I'm planning to get in case of video tearing. Anyone with experience can help me vet the seller/listing? I don't really trust my instincts enough yet, so much more to learn
PS: the Panasonic NV-FS200 from vcrshop has model number 'NV-FS200 HQ', shouldn't make a difference right? Still the same PAL quality deck?
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