VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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LOW BAND EDIT VCRS

 

INTRO

Edit VCRs have been rather thin on the ground of late but we've managed to put together a selection of five/six machines that deserve your very serious attention, if you're a home video movie-maker

 

COPY

The fact is almost any video recorder can be used for editing, either as a replay (source) or record (destination) machine but very few VCRs deserve to be called edit decks. There are no precise definitions of the term edit deck but over the years we have established a few simple ground-rules, to help us identify the machines that will be of most use to camcorder owners.

 

Number one has to be picture quality. Even if a VCR has all the facilities of a medium-sized editing suite, they are wasted if the deck adds to the already significant quality losses that occur when a video recording is copied. It happens, last year we saw what appeared to be a well-equipped twin-deck editing machine, but it was let down by inferior picture quality.

 

We look for four specific features on any prospective edit VCR, they are: front-mounted AV terminal, audio dub, jog/shuttle dial and insert edit. It's not essential for a VCR to have them all, but unless it has at least two out of four, it's out of the running. Together these features indicate that the VCR was designed with at least half an eye on the home video-movie market, and it's not just another boring time-shifter or AV component.

 

We also have a small shopping list of secondary features, that we like to see but can live without, or stray from our brief because they restrict the user to one particular make or format of camcorder. Number one has to be an editing terminal, either a Control L socket, or the Panasonic 5/11-pin RMC connector. Bother are essential if the machine is going to be used as a source or replay deck with an edit controller, though in the vast majority of editing set-ups the VCR is the record machine. Nevertheless, an increasing number of third-party editing packages now feature hard-wired record deck controls, in addition to learning or programmed infra-red, so it's worth thinking about if you anticipate getting into editing in a big way.

 

If you're planning a single-make system, i.e. camcorder and VCR from the same manufacturer check to see if the machines in question support some sort of syncro-edit facility, this will simplify and speed up the transfer of single scenes, from camcorder to VCR. Picture in picture can be handy to have, but only if it can be used as a preview monitor, to display two pictures on the screen at the same time. Finally there's automated assemble edit. This is only relevant when the VCR is being used as the source machine, a second VCR is needed for the record deck. There is one exception, the excellent Panasonic NV-HD700 (see review in April 94 issue), which has an on-board edit controller to operate the camcorder, but only those fitted with a 5/11-pin edit terminal, in other words it only works with a few Panasonic machines (and a handful of badge-engineered clones). If only it had Control L as well, now that would be something!

 

1993 was a lousy year for edit VCRs, most manufacturers concentrated their efforts on the volume market, or updated their existing ranges with hot features, like Video Plus,  which explains why some of the machines might look a little familiar. This year things are looking up, and we're expecting to see some interesting new editing machines over the coming months. In the meantime, here's the current pick of a very small crop.

 

 

AKAI VS-F100 550

A handsome stereo machine that first saw light of day in late 1992. In addition to a full compliment of the most desirable editing features the F1000 has a useful tape-tuning facility, called I-HQ. It makes a short test recording -- lasting around 15 seconds -- and automatically optises the machines record circuitry to suit the tape being used. This is of particular interest to movie-makers as it performs well on high-grade tape formulations, minimising the inevitable quality losses that occur when editing. Like most Akai VCRs it's loaded with gadgets, some of them useful, like the advanced tape search and indexing facilities, others like fastext, will only be of interest to those with older TVs.

 

Performance is very good, samples we've tried are consistently able to resolve around 250-lines, and making full use of the I-HQ facility results in lower than average levels of picture noise. Trick play stability and colour accuracy are also better than average. The insert edit facility works well, managing near seamless joins, with minimal colour disturbance at the edit out point. Audio quality is good too, and the manual recording level control is a welcome extra these days, especially for those who take audio quality seriously. A solid, versatile machine, equally adept as a edit deck or home cinema component. Recomended, but hurry, its days are numbered.

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          Akai VS-F1000    

Guide price             550

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Jog/shuttle          yes

Insert edit:          yes             

Edit terminal           no

Syncro edit          yes

Stereo/NICAM          yes   

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

On-screen display          yes   

Microphone skt.          yes   

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         250-lines

Colour fidelity         excellent    

Trick play stability         excellent

Audio performance         very good

Edit functions         good

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money                 8

Ease of use         8

Performance                     9

Features                        9

 

 

 

GRUNDIG GV-450 460

Grundig are not normally associated with video movie-making, in the UK at least. Their occasional forays into the camcorder market have been fairly low-key and usually fairly short-lived. However, when it comes to VCRs they've come up with some real gems in the past. The 450 is no exception, though it's a bit of a sleeper and it's movie-making talents are well hidden in amongst all the other bits and bobs. There's a full set of edit features plus something else that may interest camcorder owners, a title generator. The 450 has quasi-SVHS and NTSC playback facilities and a very eye-catching front-panel display; it's let down slightly by the control labelling and instructions which are not terribly friendly, this is not the sort of machine you'd give your old gran for Christmas...

 

Picture quality is average to good, resolution is down a little on the top machines in this class, and there's a tad more picture noise than we would have like to have seen but it's nothing to be concerned about. Picture stability and trick-frame facilities are good, and the insert edit works well. Sound quality on the stereo hi-fi sound tracks is fine, little noise and a clean, even response. A difficult machine to get to know but it's worth the effort, bristling with useful features and although not the top-performer it can still show most of it's similarly priced rivals a clean pair of heels.

 

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          Grundig GV-450

Guide price            460

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Jog/shuttle          yes

Insert edit:          yes  

Edit terminal           no

Syncro edit          no

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes   

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

On-screen display          yes   

Microphone skt.          no     

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         240-lines

Colour fidelity         good

Trick play stability         good

Audio performance         very good

Edit functions         good

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money                 8

Ease of use         7

Performance         8

Features                        8

 

 

JVC HR-J815

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          X                        

Guide price            

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          yes/no         

Audio dub          yes/no         

Jog/shuttle          yes/no

Insert edit:          yes/no             

Edit terminal           yes/no/RMC/LANC

Syncro edit          yes/no

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes/no         

Slow motion          yes/no            

Multi-speed           yes/no         

On-screen display          yes/no         

Microphone          yes/no         

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution

Colour fidelity

Trick play stability

Audio performance

Edit functions

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money       

Ease of use            

Performance           

Features              

 

 

 

PANASONIC NV HD-100 580

If only... Don't get us wrong, the HD100 is a splendid machine, design, build quality and performance are up to Panasonic's usual high standard, but for the want of a couple of features this could have been a really special edit VCR. Those features are front-mounted AV terminal and a 5/11-pin edit socket, almost unforgivable omissions on a top-end Panasonic deck. The rest of the machine makes up for it, though, and the syncro edit facility is well worth having if you've already got a Panasonic camcorder. NTSC replay could be useful if you've got friends or relatives living in North America or Japan and Panasonic have finally relented and adopted the Video Plus+ timer programming system, though it's not the best implementation we've seen due to the lack of an on-screen display.

 

What it lacks in the way of editing refinements it more than makes up for with sparkling picture performance. Horizontal resolution tops 250-lines, which is getting close to the limits of the format, and noise levels are well below average. Colours are bright and natural looking and trick play stability is amongst the best we've seen. The stereo hi-fi audio system with its NICAM decoder sounds clean with just a hint of background noise, certainly less than on most other machines. Panasonic have redeemed themselves in the last few months with the remarkable HD700, but the HD100 is not to be lightly dismissed as an edit VCR. It's targetted at home cinema fans first, and camcorder owners second, but picture quality is outstanding, and for this reason alone we're prepared to overlook those missing sockets.

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          Panasonic NV-HD100                

Guide price             580

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          no     

Audio dub          yes   

Jog/shuttle          yes

Insert edit:          yes             

Edit terminal           no

Syncro edit          yes

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes   

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

On-screen display          yes   

Microphone          yes   

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         >250-lines

Colour fidelity         very good

Trick play stability         very good

Audio performance         very good

Edit functions         fair

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money              8

Ease of use                      8       

Performance                     9

Features                        8

 

 

 

PHILIPS VR-838 590

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          Philips VR-838

Guide price             590

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          yes/no         

Audio dub          yes/no         

Jog/shuttle          yes/no

Insert edit:          yes/no             

Edit terminal           yes/no/RMC/LANC

Syncro edit          yes/no

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes/no         

Slow motion          yes/no            

Multi-speed           yes/no         

On-screen display          yes/no         

Microphone          yes/no         

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution

Colour fidelity

Trick play stability

Audio performance

Edit functions

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money       

Ease of use            

Performance           

Features              

 

 

SONY SLV-835 850

Ouch! Yes, we know, you could get a Super VHS video recorder for that kind of money, but this one is a bit special. The 835 is an upgrade of the SLV-825 a classic edit deck from way back; the main difference is a Video Plus+ timer, and a fairly substantial price hike, so its worth keeping an eye out for an 825 if easy timer programming isn't high on your list of priorities. The 835 has all four key edit feature plus a very neat picture-in-picture facility, called edit monitor, which displays two sub-screens -- source and destination -- plus tape count and deck status information on screen. The icing on the cake is a Control L editing terminal so it can be wired up to an edit controller, either as a replay or record deck, with the promise of  increased accuracy and control flexibility.

 

On-screen performance is good, nudging 250-lines, noise levels are low, and the results are particularly good when using higher grade tapes. Colour accuracy is better than average and trick play is rock solid. Sound quality on the stereo hi-fi soundtracks is pretty good with average amounts of background noise. It would be easy to dismiss the 835 on the ground of prtice, it is horrendously expensive, but the edit monitor and Control L edit terminals go a long way towards justifying the cost, add to that the top-grade picture quality and reassuring solid feel this machine has and it may not seem quite so steep.

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model          Sony SLV-835

Guide price             850

 

FEATURES

Front AV terminal          yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Jog/shuttle          yes

Insert edit:          yes             

Edit terminal           yes/Control L (LANC)

Syncro edit          no

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes   

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

On-screen display          yes   

Microphone          yes   

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         250-lines

Colour fidelity         excellent

Trick play stability         very good

Audio performance         very good

Edit functions         excellent

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money          7

Ease of use                      8

Performance                     9

Features                        9

 

 

---end---

R.Maybury 1994 1503

 


 

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