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JVC HR-S7500

 

STANDFIRST

No, you're not seeing things, the JVC HR-S7500 is indeed a Super VHS video recorder and yes, the price is just 350, so what's wrong with it?

 

COPY

Quite honestly if you're thinking of buying a mid-range VCR there's no need to read any further than the end of this sentence, just make sure you see the JVC HR-S7500 first! If you're still with us and wondering what all the fuss is all about a word or two of explanation is called for.

 

The HR-S7500 has two big things going for it. Firstly it is a Super VHS video recorder, and second, it costs only 350. This is the cheapest S-VHS machine in the history of the universe, roughly half the cost of its nearest rival. Super VHS is the home video movie-maker's format of choice for post-production, sadly its particular talents are largely wasted on off-air recordings and there are no pre-recorded S-VHS movies, but at that price who cares? The S7500 costs only marginally more than a regular NICAM VCR yet it is capable of outstanding picture quality, in the same ballpark as off-air broadcasts, laserdisc and digital recording equipment.

 

So how have JVC done it? The question should be why hasn't someone done it before? The guts of a S-VHS video recorder are substantially the same as any normal NICAM machine, there's a few extra bits and bobs in the video signal processing path but nothing to justify the extraordinary high prices we've seen over the past ten years. Maybe if S-VHS equipment had been priced lower to begin with it.... Oh well, better late than never.

 

The HR-S7500 is clearly based on the current JVC NICAM range; the most obvious difference is the distinctive champagne gold cabinet. In addition to all the usual homedeck VCR basics (NICAM sound, Video Plus+ timer with PDC, auto set-up and LP operation) it has a useful assortment of extra facilities, several of which are directly relevant to movie making. They include front-mounted AV input and an S-Video input sockets plus a remote pause connection. The jog-shuttle control on the front panel is in charge of an impressive set of trick-play functions, (2x, 3x, 5x, 7x, 9x and 15x in both directions), plus still frame and frame step. Sadly it doesn't have audio-dub but it can replay NTSC recordings (in stereo), there's spatializer sound (stereo wide) and the remote handset is a multi-brand type, able to control the main functions on a wide assortment of non JVC televisions and satellite receivers. 

 

For good measure there's JVC's laboriously named B.E.S.T tape tuning system and Rec-Link, which is the next best thing to (some might say even better than) satellite control. You simply set the satellite receiver timer; the HR-S7500 senses the receiver switching on via the SCART connection and makes the recording.

 

PERFORMANCE

This is the bit you've been waiting for, resolution on our sample topped 380-lines, which is comparable with its dearer rivals. The difference between S-VHS, and normal VHS is immediately obvious on test patterns and video movies. The image is crisper, cleaner with noticeably less noise however; you won't see a lot of difference on most off-air recordings. As a matter of interest our sample was able to record clean teletext data, which could be a boon for the hard of hearing.

 

Where S-VHS really pays off is editing and copying, particularly from high-band (S-VHS-C or Hi8) and digital sources (camcorders and PCs). The drop in quality that occurs when copying to normal VHS is almost always down to the big rise in noise levels; there is a small increase on high-band/digital to S-VHS recordings, but it's nothing like as much and barely noticeable on the second generation. You can go to a third generation copy (S-VHS to VHS) and that will still look almost as good as a first generation VHS tape. It is ideal for producing edit masters, for running off VHS copies. Stereo hi-fi sound and the NICAM soundtracks were both very clean with no colouration and background noise levels were no worse than average.

 

CONCLUSION

If you've held off buying a S-VHS VCR because of the price there's no longer any excuse, even if your interest in video movie-making or desktop video is only peripheral you should still shortlist this machine, and quickly before JVC change their minds   

 

HOW MUCH?

350

 

FEATURES

S-VHS/VHS SP/LP, auto installation, NICAM, stereo hi-fi sound, Video Plus+ with PDC timer, Rec-Link satellite recording, multi-speed replay, BEST tape tuning, audio spatializer, jog/shuttle dial, index search, repeat play, NTSC replay, multi-brand TV/Sat remote control

 

SPECIFICATION

Dimensions: 480 x 86 x 350mm

Weight: 3.5kg

Sockets: rear -- 2 x SCART AV, S-Video out (mini DIN), stereo line audio out

(phono), rec pause (minijack); front -- AV in (phono), S-Video in (mini DIN)

 

TESTS

Lines of horizontal resolution: >240 (VHS), >380 (S-VHS)

Colour performance: very good

Dynamic range: excellent

Grain: negligible

Dot: negligible

 

JVC UK, 0181 450 3282

 

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