Where to buy VHS VCRs? Learn about their history and specification

29 January 2023 by
Daisy Wong

With the digitisation of almost all visual media today, VHS VCRs have been discontinued along with the decline of VHS tapes. With the rapid advancement of technology, we can now digitise the videos in VHS tapes, and store these precious memories without having to let them gather dust in a corner at home. We can relive the moments of our youth whenever we want.

What is a VHS VCR?

A VHS VCR is a machine that can record and replay television broadcasts using VHS technology. Many VHS VCRs also have built-in features for TV channel reception and timed recording.

VHS was developed by JVC, a Japanese company, in 1976. Initially, VHS stood for Vertical Helical Scan, reflecting its use of vertical scanning technology for its magnetic head/tape. Later on, JVC revised the official name of VHS to Video Home System, indicating its purpose as a home video recording system.

The Rise and Fall of VHS VCRs

In 1956, the American company Ampex produced the world's first video recorder, but due to the high cost of the technology and equipment at the time, video recorders were only used in the commercial market, such as in the television industry and for live broadcasting by TV stations.

As various companies around the world joined the competition in the 1970s, the production cost of video recorders greatly decreased, which led to the birth of home video recorders. In the 1980s, in the battle between Sony's Betamax format and Philips' Video 2000 format, JVC's VHS format emerged as the ultimate winner and became the mainstream in the video recorder and videotape market, gradually becoming an entertainment device that ordinary consumers could afford.

Due to VHS's recording time of up to 2 hours and its lower price, it had an advantage in the market for producing movie videotapes. VHS's tape transmission mechanism was also simpler than Betamax's, and its rewind and fast-forward speeds were faster than Betamax's. In addition, at that time, movie tape rental was popular in Europe and America, which further gave VHS market dominance and made it the standard format for home video systems.

However, videotapes recorded using magnetic powder deteriorate over time, and VHS tapes are not suitable for long-term storage. The quality of their footage gradually degrades until it can no longer be played. As the storage medium for video data gradually transitioned from videotapes to optical discs, with the introduction of VCDs and DVDs in the 1990s and the emergence of digital video formats that are currently mainstream, VHS was inevitably phased out by the times.

VHS Videotape Specifications

The magnetic tape width of a standard VHS tape is 12.65 millimeters (thus commonly referred to as a half-inch tape) and data is stored linearly. The tape passes through a recording head or playback head when played. The bandwidth of the VHS format is approximately 3 MHz, and the horizontal resolution is 240 scan lines. Using the most commonly used T-120 videotape, in NTSC mode, the standard playback image (Standard Play) on a single tape is 120 minutes. If recorded at the lower image quality of Long Play and Extended Play speeds, the recording time can be up to 240 and 360 minutes, respectively.

VHS videotapeVHS-C Videotape

Later, VHS developed different improved versions, such as the analog standard S-VHS and D-VHS, which uses VHS tapes to record digital video. Devices were also developed to connect personal computers and VHS recorders for file backup. In addition, there is a smaller VHS tape format called VHS-C (C stands for Compact), which uses the same width magnetic tape as standard VHS but is much smaller in size at 3.75 x 2.25 x 0.75 inches. It can be used in portable camcorders and can also be played on a regular VHS player with an adapter.

Different Type of Videotape

How to buy a VHS recorder?

With the advancement of technology and the near complete digitisation of video, the videotape market has gradually declined. The last Japanese cassette recorder manufacturer, Funai Electric, also stopped producing VHS recorders in 2016.

However, due to the continued popularity of videotape collections, the second-hand VHS recorder market still exists. In Hong Kong's Sham Shui Po Yau Tsim Mong district, there are still traces of second-hand VHS recorders. According to the media, shop owners selling second-hand recorders on Yau Tsim Mong's Apliu Street pointed out that new recorders have disappeared from the market for more than 10 years, and it is believed that the chance of finding a new recorder is very slim.

Why Not Permanently Preserve your Videotape Clips!

If you still treasure many videotapes, whether they are recorded TV programs or precious memory clips recorded in the past, you can digitise the videotapes, so that your videos can be permanently preserved. You don't have to worry about losing your precious memories due to VHS tape deterioration, nor do you need to purchase a second-hand video recorder to play back your tapes.

In this age of technology, digitisation is undoubtedly the most effective way to preserve old media. Capture.HK provides videotape digitisation services, which allow you to play and share your videos anytime on electronic devices, and also pass your cherished memories to future generations.

In addition, we can also upload the digitised videos to Google Photos for you, allowing you to view your digitised clips anytime, anywhere, and easily share them with friends and family with just a few clicks. Moreover, storing the digitised videos in Google Photos, a cloud-based service, greatly reduces the risk of losing your precious memories due to device failure. It is the most reliable and secure tool to properly safeguard your memories.

*This article is brought to you by Capture HK.

Capture HK is the premier analogue media digitisation company in Hong Kong.

Capture HK's business covers photographs, photo album digitisation, videotapes digitisation, including VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS-C Hi-8, Video8, Digital8, DV, DVCAM, MiniDV, DVC and digital media digitisation, including Secure Digital (SD), Smart Media (SM), MultiMediaCard (MMC) Compact Flash (CF), xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick, USB Drive, CDROM, DVD.

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