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JVC SR-9240 TIME-LAPSE VCR

 

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Whilst there is little doubt that the future of video surveillance recording belongs to digital technology, in the here and now analogue VHS still reigns supreme, as it has done for the past quarter of a century. There's plenty of life left in the old dog yet, as this time-lapse VCR from JVC ably demonstrates. The SR-9240 is a well specified mid-range machine with nine time-lapse modes, giving 3, 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, 168 and 240 hour recording times on a standard 3-hour (E180) cassette, additionally it records audio in the 3, 12 and 24-hour modes.

 

The 9240 has a fairly standard set of alarm functions. When an alarm input is received -- whilst in stop mode or when making a time-lapse recording -- the machine switches to 3-hour real-time recording for a preset period (5, 15, 30, 60, 120 or 180 seconds), or until the tape runs out. The start of alarm recordings are tagged by a VISS index signal recorded on the tape, so they can be rapidly found using the machine's index search facility. Front panel and on-screen indicators flash when an alarm recording is in progress (and remain on after it has finished) moreover details of the time and date of the last nine alarm events (and power interruptions) are automatically logged.

 

Also on the feature list is a time and date generator. It has two timer options, for making daily recordings, or recording by date (up to 8 programmed events). A recording check function reviews the last few seconds of a recording, allowing the operator to quickly assess recording quality; if the function is enabled from the on-screen menu it will carry out a head cleaning operation. A built-in buzzer alerts the operator to alarm events and tape end; a wired remote control is available as an option as is an RS232 interface board for PC control and monitoring. Recording resumes automatically after a power failure and an on-screen hour meter records drum rotation time, for periodic maintenance checks.

 

The machine is housed in a fairly discrete cream coloured case with roughly the same dimensions and layout as a domestic VCR. It has a mid-mount tape deck mechanism and dual-colour fluorescent display beneath the loading hatch. The front panel controls are grouped together in three separate locations. On the far left are the tape transport keys; the function controls (time lapse mode, tracking, timer recording, menu etc.) are to the right of the display and on the far right are the power on/standby and control lock buttons. On the back panel there are two BNC sockets for video input and output, a pair of phono/RCA connectors for audio in/out, two minijacks for an external microphone and the optional wired remote control. A bank of spring terminals carries the alarm input and output plus connections for camera switching, external alarm reset, tape end alarm, series recording signal out and clock reset.

 

Replay options include reverse play, still, frame advance and 9x normal speed picture search in both directions. Replay speed is also controllable by changing the time-lapse mode. All background operations and the initial set-up are accessed by an on-screen menu-driven display. The main menu has six selections (program timer, function, alarm in, power loss, hour meter and clock adjust), options are selected using shift and set buttons on the front panel. The program timer page is used to set up the daily or event timer. The Function menu covers the position of the on-screen displays, picture sharpness), index search enable, camera switch enable, tape end buzzer, series recording options and alarm recording options (record duration tape end mode -- stop, rewind, repeat, eject). The purpose of the remaining menus is self-explanatory.

 

INSTALLATION AND SETUP

Installation shouldn't pose any problems, the manual is well written adequately illustrated and reasonably simple to follow. The on screen display has one or two minor quirks, calling up the Function menus for example involves some convoluted button pressing, but it is something that installers and users will quickly get used to and should pose few problems.

 

The front panel and on-screen displays are clear and easy to read, in fact the fluorescent display is quite bright, a dimmer wouldn't have gone amiss as it can be quite intrusive, especially in a dimly lit room or office. It is very quiet, barely audible in fact in 3, 12 and 24-hour modes; at longer time-lapse speeds it emits a fairly low level ticking sound.

 

Servicing and maintenance intervals are well within industry norms with routine checks and cleaning operations for key components every 1000 hours and head and pinch roller replacement due at or around the 4000-hour mark.

 

There's only one minor ergonomic quibble and that's the front panel control buttons, which are rather exposed and vulnerable to accidental operation. There is a control lock function but it might have been better to locate them behind a flap, or recess the panel, to keep them out of harm's way.

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution on our sample came in at a little over 240-lines, which is close to the edge of the VHS performance envelope. This remained more or less constant irrespective of recording mode. Picture noise levels were lower than average on good quality HG tape and colour accuracy is very good indeed though patches of high saturation show a fair amount of fizz. Image jitter is negligible and the picture is stable in all playback modes, including still frame.

 

The mono linear audio track works well in the 3-hour mode. It becomes decidedly bassy on a 12-hour recording, speech and loud incidental sounds are just about legible. Audio on 24-hour recordings is mainly for novelty purposes, at that speed it can only capture the passing rumble of traffic, loud background noises and very muffled speech.  

 

SUMMARY

It would have been worrying if JVC, as inventors of the VHS format, had come up with anything less than a competent and carefully thought out product. In fact the SR-9240 is a textbook design for a mid-market time-lapse VCR. The specification and features has been very precisely targeted to meet the needs of as wide a cross-section of end-users as possible. It is easy to install set-up and use. Video quality is about as good it's possible to get on low-band analogue equipment and if, as we suspect, build quality and reliability are up to JVC's usual high standard it should still be earning its keep well into the new era of digital recording.

 

PRODUCT SPECIFICATION

 

Power supply              230 VAC 50Hz

Weight                        4.5kg

Dimensions                 360 x 94 x 294 mm

 

PSI RATINGS

 

Product                      

Product design 8         

Build quality               9

Ruggedness                9

 

Operation                  

General functions            9

CCTV functions            9         

Ease of use                 8

Instructions                8

Manuf. support            9                     

Performance               8

Video quality              8

 

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R. Maybury 1999 0411

 


 

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