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Would you agree there is always the possibility of compatibility problems with audio or video tapes played back in any machine other than the one used to make the original recording, as I have found – to my cost – a number of times?

James Greene, Clydebank, Scotland


Of course the possibility exists – tracking errors and tape guide-path misalignment are recognized fault conditions -- but manufacturers go to a great deal of trouble with the set-up of tape deck mechanisms to make sure that it doesn’t happen. You appear to have been very unlucky indeed. Conformity is a key element in any tape recording system -- video and audio -- otherwise there could be no market for pre-recorded tapes.



I wonder if you could throw some light on a problem I have encountered with a Sony DCR-TRV8E, which I bought recently and which I used for the first time on a recent holiday. I used the camcorder for a week with no apparent problems, until the flight back from Croatia. I shot the take off and followed with a short (twenty seconds) shot over the Alps, then a landing in Birmingham. On playing it back the shots of the Alps did not appear until probably thirty seconds after the landing. On another occasion, shots of two villages were out of sequence. Neither the shop where I brought the camera nor the Sony Help line could understand this.  Would you advise me to keep the camera or ask for another? I should say they gave me a new cassette to try, but have not yet had the opportunity to use it.

Frank Cooper, Rounds Hill, Kenilworth


You’re not going to like this but I suspect that the record-search buttons were accidentally pressed whilst the machine was in record-pause mode. It’s very easy to do, and I’ve done it myself when putting the camcorder in a bag for a few minutes. Of course it’s possible there is a fault condition on your machine that randomly and intermittently winds the tape forwards and backwards when the machine is off or in standby but my instinctive reaction is that the simplest explanation is often the right one. In the end the only way to find out is to see if it happens again and if so, try and replicate the fault so that you can demonstrate it to the dealer.



I have been meaning to upgrade from my Samsung VP-A800 Hi 8 to a triple-CCD semi-pro camcorder with DV in/out but I have received conflicting advice. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a representative of Thomson - apparently it is one of the most popular electrical brands in the USA (it's okay, I don't work for them) and it has just launched a range of DV Camcorders onto the British market. When do you plan to review them, or even add them into your Buyer's Guide section? Also, this Thomson bloke got around to saying how Panasonic camcorders are more durable, reliable and better made than the likes of Sony or Canon. However, the salesmen in Tottenham Court Road sell the Panasonic DX110 (which you list at £2000) for a mere £995 as they reckon Panasonic have reduced its price owing to its 'sub-standard' performance against the likes of the Canon XM1 and Sony TRV900. Am I being naive or is there something about the DX110 that Panasonic don't want us to know?

Phil Goodall, Upper Norwood, London SE19


Several misconceptions and a misplaced conspiracy theory here. Firstly Thomson is not a US brand, as you may have been led to believe, it is in fact a French-based company. Secondly, Thomson has indeed launched a range of camcorders in the UK, I am aware of two models, however both the VMD3 and VMD8 are badge-engineered machines made for Thomson by JVC. The VMD3 is very closely related to the GR-DVL-40 whilst the VMD8 is a dead ringer for the GR-DVX4, both of which have been reviewed in Video Camera, so there’s not much point in looking at them again. Your Thomson bloke’s credibility doesn’t get any better when it comes to his musings on reliability and durability. All three brands have a very good reputation in that respect and in over 20 years of testing products from these companies I cannot recall a single incidence where build quality was called into question. Comments from salespersons in Tottenham Court Road should also be treated with a certain amount of caution. There’s nothing suspicious about the street price of the DX110, this model is coming to the end of its run moreover the one’s you have seen may be ‘grey’ imports, in which case they might not be covered by a UK warranty.



I may be old fashioned but I still use video and audio mixers to do my editing. However, when dubbing voice-overs, music, original sound or a mixture, I have no visible means of checking and controlling the relevant sound levels.  Is there anything I can use to give a visible means of sound control or do you have any other suggestions?

Bill Cox, Chesterfield, Derbyshire


There’s nothing wrong with being ‘old fashioned’ as you put it, though clearly some new-fanged products have their advantages… However, the simplest option in your case would be to upgrade your mixer to one with a visual level display. Most dedicated home video mixers are quite basic and models with levels displays are quite rare, or the audio mixer facility is incorporated within a video effects unit, which you probably don’t want or need. However, I have come across a couple of audio mixers with level displays, which may be of interest, both in the current Maplin catalogue. The first is the DSM1, a 3-channel model with a bargraph level display, priced at just under £60. The other one, which looks even better suited to your needs is the XJ17, this has two microphone and two line level inputs, monitor facilities and twin VU meters, and it sells for £75. Maplin sales can be reached on 0870 264 6000.




Ó R. Maybury 2000, 2107






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