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PHILIPS VR1000, £330

VERDICT ****

 

Whyís it here: The simplistic answer would seem to be that Philips does not want to miss out on the Super VHS mini boom, brought about by the recent influx of budget priced machines. Philips has a long and honourable history with the S-VHS format but of late it has confined itself to the top-end of the market with distinctive models like the VR-969; thatís the one with an analogue clock set into the front panel. Itís unlikely that Philips could produce a competitively priced deck to rival those coming from JVC, which may explain why the VR100 is in fact a thinly disguised clone of the JVC HR-S7600.

 

Any unique features: Itís an unwritten rule in VCR manufacture that badge-engineered models do not upstage products in the original equipment manufacturerís range, consequently the VR1000 has a fairly bland appearance and unremarkable price nevertheless it is reasonably well equipped. Features of note are stereo hi-fi sound and NICAM, SmartPicture image processing (auto, sharp, distinct or soft), a tape tuning system called Digital Studio Picture Control and a switchable digital noise filter. Also included is NTSC replay, it comes with a light-up multi brand TV remote (covering 12 makes) and it has JVCís Rec-Link feature for satellite recording. The latter depends on the sat box having a timer, which you have to set. When it comes on the VCR senses a video signal on the SCART cable and starts recording for the duration of the programme. Whilst the VR1000 is a well-equipped home cinema machine the Super VHS formatís particular forte is home video movie making. The higher performance minimises quality losses during editing and copying and with this in mind the machine has some rudimentary editing facilities in the shape of RA-Edit compatibility (basically a remote pause function), also of interest to camcorder owners will be front-mounted AV inputs, audio dub and a timebase corrector, which helps stabilise wonky old or worn recordings.

 

How does it perform: Auto-installation kicks in when the machine is plugged in for the first time. The VR1000 doesnít break any speed records but a few minutes later all available channels are tuned, named and sorted and the time and date are set. The JVC pedigree is obvious from the outset, the deck mechanism is very smooth, able to change direction and speed quickly and with no irksome clunks or clicks. Super VHS resolution on our sample was a shade under 400-lines, standard VHS just about made it to 250-lines. In both cases noise levels were a commendably low and colours look reasonably natural. Tape tuning appears to work well and good quality high-grade tape yields a noticeably cleaner picture. In trick play mode picture stability is very good indeed though the picture acquires an odd looking texture, presumably as a result of digital processing and noise suppression.

 

Background hiss on the stereo soundtracks is no worse than usual and the response is largely flat and open with a nicely detailed treble. Dolby Surround soundtracks fare well with most types of effects and the dialogue channel surviving relatively unscathed.

 

Our Verdict: Given the VR1000ís parentage thereís no way it is going to outshine any JVC S-VHS machines. Itís not without a certain amount of charm though and the understated cosmetics contrasts with the shiny in your-face styling favoured by JVC. In terms of performance and features thereís little or nothing to choose between it and the similarly priced JVC original, but JVC has upped the ante with the recently launched HR-S7700 S-VHS-ET machine (£330) so in the end it comes down to looks and the Philips name, youíll have to figure that one yourselves but we know which one weíd go for.

 

Philips 0181-689 2166

 

UP CLOSE

 

Features                       Super-VHS/VHS, stereo hi-fi and NICAM sound, Video Plus+ with PDC, 8-event/356 day timer, multi-brand TV remote, multi-speed replay, audio dub, auto installation, NexTViewLink, digital timebase corrector, digital noise reduction, tape tuning, Rec Link auto satellite recording, NTSC replay

 

Sockets                        AV in/out (2 x SCART), S-Video out (mini DIN), line audio out (phono) remote pause (minijack), Front: AV in (phono), S-Video in (mini DIN)

Dimensions                   435 x 94 x 343mm

 

Rival Buys                     JVC HR-S7700 £330, Panasonic NV-HS850 £380

 

CAPTIONS

Black as your hat, a VCR for those who like their AV boxes to be bland and anonymous

 

Twin SCART sockets and the usual audio connections, the jack socket is basically a remote pause facility and makes it compatible with JVCís edit VCRs

 

The handset is a bit of a whopper though the jog/shuttle dial makes it all worthwhile with fast speed and direction changes

 

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R. Maybury 2000, 2205

 

 

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