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REVIEW

 

STRAP

NICAM VCR

 

HEAD

SONY SLV-700

 

INTRO

The SLV-700 is Sonyís cheapest NICAM video recorder but at £500 a throw itís hardly in the budget category

 

COPY

The cost of NICAM VCRs has been steadily falling, to the point where you can now pick up a half decent machine for less than £350. The skirmishing at the budget end of the market clearly doesnít concern Sony, their latest Ďentry-levelí stereo video recorder, the SLV-700 costs £500, exactly the same price as the machine it replaces, the SLV-E70. Itís one of only two new NICAM VCRs from Sony this year, the other one is the SLV-E1000, a top end edit deck costing over £800.

 

At first glance the new machine looks quite similar to its predecessor, though internally it is an entirely new design. Most of the headline features stay the same however, and that includes staple items like the NICAM decoder, VideoPlus+ timer, on-screen display, multi-speed replay, index search and Sonyís OPC (optimum picture control) tape tuning system.

 

Heading the list of new features is a granny-proof auto-install system that kicks in as soon as the machine is plugged  in and connected to a TV. One button push and it seeks out all locally available TV broadcasts, assigns them channel numbers and names (derived from teletext data), then it sets the date and time. The time is checked whenever it is switched on, which neatly takes care of irritating Summer and Winter time adjustments. The whole installation routine takes around five minutes to complete.

 

Other new additions include a redesigned remote control handset with a shuttle dial, for better control over multi-speed replay. The front panel display has been improved to make it easier to read,  (it has a fluorescent module instead of the LCD panel on the SLV-70); there are new tape transport control indicators, and the tape deck is noticeably faster at loading and unloading tapes. On the back panel there are two SCART AV sockets, plus a pair of phono sockets for stereo line audio output. The only small disappointment is the lack a manual recording level control and an NTSC replay facility; theyíre almost standard fitments on stereo VCRs in this price bracket these days.  

 

Picture quality is good, our sample managed to resolve just under 250-lines, thatís a small improvement over the E70, and puts the E700 within a whisker of the top-performing VHS decks. Picture noise is very low, and this is where the OPC tape tuning system comes into its own. Normally high grade tapes yield a small reduction in noise, but on this machine good quality HG tapes produce exceptionally clear pictures, with bright, lifelike colours. Trick-play stability is also very good, virtually jitter-free on still frame and slomo. The hi-fi stereo sound recording system works very well, background noise levels are below average and the response is smooth and uncoloured.

 

Not quite in the classic mould but the SLV-700 is still a very refined machine, thatís exceptionally easy to set-up and use. AV performance is good, good enough to qualify it as a top-grade home cinema component, though for the price you might reasonably expect a few more bells and whistles.

 

DATA STREAM

Features:

NICAM, Videoplus+, 8-event/31-day timer, SP/LP, auto install, multi-speed replay, on-screen display, 2 x SCART, index search,  optimum picture control (OPC) tape-tuning

 

Value for money                         85%

Sony telephone 01932 816000

 

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R. Maybury 1995 1809

 

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