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Even though the cutting edge of technology is now the DVD player every complete home theater system still needs at least one VCR. In my system I have two. This permits me to tape two different shows at the same time and also to copy one tape to another. Of course, the better and newer VCR holds the position of primary VCR.

Panasonic PV-V4660

Comments:

When my original primary VCR started to fail (at the most inopportune moments), I decided it was time to upgrade my VCR. Fortunately, the cost of VCRs has plummeted to where such a decision can be made without too much concern for price. After searching the usual haunts for information on the various features and performance specifications I decided on the Panasonic PV-V4660 for several reasons. First, it is high end without being high cost. Sure there are other less expensive models but I was able to spend a little bit more in order to get a bit more bang for the buck. The features that helped to make this decisions where ones like the built in head cleaner, VCR+/VCR+Gold, Program end find and Program Index. Here's why. Head cleaning is always important but like many home theater owners it is unfortunately overlooked. This model does the job automatically. My wife is not very adapt at working home theater equipment. Her forte is music, art and all the wonderful aspects of humanity. The VCR+ features makes this VCR programmable by entering a few numbers from the TV Guide. I have to admit, I like that feature for myself as well. Finding the end of a program is great for me since I often place several programs on the same tape. I have an almost complete collection of the Outer Limits. This lets me go right to where I left off on the tape and record the next episode without wasting a lot of time looking for the end. The indexing function is the other side of this need. Since I can have several programs on one tape it allows me to go right to the one I want at that moment. The tape position display is something I wished for for a long time. It tells you how much tape is left. A feature required if you have multiple programs on a single tape. Since I love old movies and they are often in black and white and mono there is little reason to tape them at the highest speed so this lets me program my own double features on one tape.

What is really amazing is how far VCR technology continues to advance even in the face of DVDs. This recorder has some really nice features. One is a little bar graph that shows just how much of the tape is used. Another is a system to skip past commercials automatically. It marks all the commercials and while you are watching the program it zooms past them. Another feature is the ability to skip past previews on rented or purchased tapes. There are several modes of indexed searching including a menu of the programs you just recorded, skip to next or previous program (any number) and find the end of the current program. There is even a special ultra fast forward and rewind. I've had many VCRs in the past two decades and this on is without a doubt the best.

This model has the smoothest tape transport I have ever seen. This is the 6th VHR I have owned in the last twenty years and as expected, it is the easiest to use. I tested the commercial skip feature on a three hour taping with the SLP speed (the slowest). It took about 18 minutes to mark all the commercials but once this was done I was amazed how automatically the commercials just zipped past. The skip started exactly at the start of the commercial and ended right in time for the program to begin. I tested the movie search feature on several purchased VHS tapes. On ones with numerous previews the feature worked well but it did get confused when there was a long (15 minute) featurette such as found on Phantom Menace. The programs are each marked with a little signal used in index searching. This is fully compatible with the signals imprinted by my previous two VCRs which is good because I have over 1,400 titles most using this feature. For those with cable boxes that use VCR+ the setup is not only automatic (manual available) but it will re-scan either nightly or weekly. Great care and attention was given to the design of this recorder to make it easy to setup, use and enjoy.

Specs:

bulletMulti-Brand Universal Light TowerIlluminated Shuttle Remote for convenient operation of the VCR plus most TVs and cable/DSS boxes
bulletHome Theater Ready allows the VCR to integrate into your home theater as the width is the same as other standard audio components
bulletRapid REW/FF allows you to fast forward and rewind at incredibly fast speed
bulletDynAmorphousTM Metal Head 4 for outstanding picture quality
bulletCommercial Advance allows the system to skip over 3 minutes of commercials in about 25 seconds
bulletMovie Advance lets you automatically skip over previews at the beginning of rented tapes and begin playing at the feature
bulletVCR Plus+ GOLD for simple, fast programming
bulletVCR Plus+ with Cable/DSS Box Control
bulletALLSETTM Channel Mapping
bulletAuto Clock Set with 24-hour Back-up sets the date and time automatically
bulletFront A/V Input Jacks for convenient access
bulletAuto Head Cleaner automatically maintains the video heads to help minimize magnetic particle build-up
bulletMulti-Function Clock Display prominently displays the time and various VCR functions
bulletTrilingual On-Screen Display for on-screen programming instructions in English, Spanish or French
bulletIndex Search for simplified access to various programs on a tape
bulletProgram End Search lets you find the end of a recorded program
bulletTime Stamp, when activated, automatically tags the start of each new recording and displays on screen the date, time, end time and channel of the program being recorded
bulletChannel Caption lets you assign an ID of one to four characters to 34 channels
bulletProgram Index Search allows quick and easy program access since you can choose from an on-screen listing of up to 8 programs on a given videotape that the VCR will search for and then start playback
bulletTape Position Display identifies your current position on a tape with an indication of remaining tape length

 

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