SANYO TLS-S2500P S-VHS TIME-LAPSE VCR
WHAT OUR EXPERTS SAY...
The most amazing thing about time-lapse video
recorders is not the fact that several days and weeks worth of video
information can be compressed on to a standard 3-hour VHS tape, but that in
general they’re so dependable. They’re one of the few surveillance devices to
have motorised moving parts, and the only ones where they’re in constant motion,
24 hours day.
Hopefully the Sanyo TLS-S2500 will maintain
the tradition of reliability, on the evidence so far that seems entirely
possible. This is a sturdily built machine, well specified but with few frills
or unnecessary gadgets. The key features are a Super VHS recording system, with
the potential for high-quality video recording, improved colour accuracy and lower noise levels. The deck has 13
recording modes, (3, 12, 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, 168, 240, 360, 480, 720 and 960 hours),
and the same number of replay speeds.
The machine can record sound in the 3,12 and
24 hour modes. It has a programmable timer, that can be set to record at
pre-set times every day, or on specified days. There’s also a full set of alarm
record functions. When triggered the VCR will automatically switch to a pre-set
(or previously set) recording mode, time and date information is logged, and
the recording indexed, for rapid access during replay.
Sanyo have kept to a fairly conventional design
and layout, though the centre-mounted deck mechanism is a recent innovation on
surveillance VCRs. This reflects the trend on domestic video equipment, and the
fact that there’s a fair amount of cross-fertilisation of mechanical and
electronic components, between the two markets. The machine is housed in a two-tone
cream and grey coloured case, virtually identical in size to a normal domestic
VCR; it measure 420 x 99 x 344 mm and weighs in at 5.6kg.
There are two display panels, one either side
of the tape hatch. The one on the left has just three LED indicators, showing power on, repeat recording and S-VHS
recording mode. The panel on the right side of the fascia contains a fluorescent
display, showing elapsed time, recording duration in hours, and transport mode.
Beneath both display panels there a pair of buttons, with power on/standby and tape eject on the left,
stop and record on the right.
All of the remaining controls are located
behind a flip-down panel, running the width of the machine. These include a set
of knobs for adjusting picture sharpness, still picture stability and tracking.
In the centre of the panel there’s a row of switches for setting tape type and
input, alarm settings, repeat recording and timer mode enable. On the right
side are the tape transport keys, selector buttons for the on-screen displays
and finally, the record mode/replay speed buttons. All of the front panel
controls can be disabled. to prevent accidental or deliberate tampering, using
a simple two-key sequence.
Around the back there’s a set of video and
audio I/O connections; they include two audio inputs, one high impedance on a minijack
for a microphone, the other a line-level input, using a phono/RCA socket.
Additionally there’s a line-level audio output, also using a phono socket. The
composite video input and output is carried by a pair of BNC sockets, and
S-Video/YC signals use a pair of mini DIN connectors. The alarm connections are
grouped together on a strip of screw terminals, and there’s a second minijack
socket for a wired remote control.
Installing the machine, setting the time,
date and main operating parameters -- using the on-screen display system --
takes only a few minutes. If required the time and date display can be moved to
any part of the screen. Setting the timer is a little more involved, and the small,
closely-packed buttons do not help. The machine generates a number of other
displays, including head-use and power-on time elapsed readouts, plus logs for
alarm activation, power loss, and down-time due to condensation on the
Clearly the S2500 will only give its best
when used with cameras and monitors that have S-Video/YC inputs and outputs.
Using standard monoscope test pattern our sample managed to resolve just under
400-lines in the S-VHS mode, and a little under 250 lines on standard VHS tape.
Both figures are towards the upper end of the performance envelopes for the two
recording systems. Picture noise levels on S-VHS recordings are very low, and
recordings have good immunity to annoying cross-colour effects, that show up as
colour interference on heavily patterned areas of the picture.
On standard VHS recordings there’s a small
increase in picture noise, and some dot crawl on areas of high colour
saturation and around sharp edges, but it’s certainly no worse than most other
VHS time-lapse machines.
Overall video recording quality is good, and
there’s no detectable change in performance across the range of recording
modes. Replay stability depends to a large extent on the recording mode and
selected replay speed; at its best the image is very steady, with no noise
bars. At other speeds there can be some slight jitter and picture interference.
Still frame and slomo reproduction are both
very good. Once again the size and layout of the controls makes the machine
more difficult to use, especially when reviewing an event, where it may be
necessary to repeatedly step forwards and backwards through a recording.
Audio quality is reasonably good in the
3-hour mode; it degrades markedly in the 12 and 24 hour modes, becoming
increasingly muffled, though speech and incidental sounds remain reasonably
Our only misgivings concern the ergonomics of
the most frequently used tape transport and menu controls, these could have
been better thought-out. In just about every other respect the S2500 is a competent,
well designed machine that performs its allotted tasks effectively and efficiently.
Design and design features ****
Circuitry and components ****
Ease of installation and wiring ****
Range and variety of functions ****
Accompanying instructions ****
Technical advice and backup ****
Value for money ****
Ó R.Maybury 1996 1110