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.
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.