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AIWA HV-FX7700 NICAM VCR, £150

It’s not as if the world needs another NICAM VCR but there is a distinct shortage of familiar brands at the budget end of the market, even more worrying is the poor AV quality on a lot of the cheapo no-name machines we’ve looked at. The Aiwa HV-FX7700 therefore comes as something of a relief. This generously specified little machine is currently selling for around £150. It has an impeccable pedigree being the latest in a long line of attractively priced VCRs from Aiwa that consistently out perform the opposition. It’s a pleasure to use, the first time it’s plugged in it goes into the auto installation routine and a couple of minutes later its ready to go. The feature list isn’t substantially different from its predecessor, the HV-FX5100, and includes little luxuries like ‘Ad-Skip’ that fast winds playback in increments of 30 seconds, to whiz through commercials. It has Aiwa’s PIN-enabled Anti-theft system, that locks the machine up if it’s disconnected from the mains for more than a minute or so, it can play NTSC tapes (with stereo hi-fi sound) and there’s a full set of timer facilities with Video Plus+ programming and PDC to correct for late schedule changes and overruns.

 

New features on the FX7700 are a re-styled front panel, a much needed overhaul of the remote control handset (the one supplied with the FX5100 was a swine to use), the head assembly has been re-worked to improve still-frame and picture search, there’s a child lock and power consumption in standby mode is down to 2-watts. 

 

Picture quality on the FX5100 was already noticeably better than most of its rivals so the improvements on the FX7700 are quite hard to spot. Nevertheless, there does appear to be less noise, colours are a shade crisper and trick play stability is now comparable with machines costing twice as much. The stereo soundtracks have slightly lower than average levels of background hiss and it easily qualifies as a competent and affordable home cinema source component.

 

Verdict

Another fine budget NICAM VCR from Aiwa, some worthwhile improvements and even better value than ever!

 

HE Rating 5

 

Contact Aiwa (0990) 902902 www.aiwa.co.uk

 

Pros

Top AV performance from a brand you know, with a good track record for performance and build quality; why pay more?

 

Cons

The newly designed front panel isn’t particularly inspiring and the on-screen menu takes a few moment to figure out

 

Rival Buys

Bush VCR-870, £130

Daewoo Q857P, £150

LG AF999, £135

Sanyo VHR-779, £160

 

Quote

‘The FX7700 has an impeccable pedigree being the latest in a long line of attractively priced machines that consistently out perform the opposition’.

 

 

SAMSUNG SV5000, ‘World Wide Video’, £500

These days pretty well all home cinema VCRs sold in this country can replay tapes purchased in the US using the NTSC television system. However, the trick that allows American tapes to be played on European VCRs and TVs doesn’t work the other way around. If you want to send a copy of your home video movies to relatives or friends in the US, Canada or the Far East, you have to pay a specialist company to ‘transcode’ the recordings. If you make a habit of it, or do a lot of travelling you might be better off getting a Samsung SV5000.

 

This remarkable machine can replay any VHS or S-VHS tape, recorded in any video format, on any TV, anywhere in the world (it has a 100 to 250 VAC 50/60Hz power supply) but more significantly it can digitally convert video recordings and signals from one format to another. That means you can tape UK TV programmes in NTSC format, and copy or convert recordings, using a second VCR or camcorder as the source machine. It can do all of the usual home cinema tricks as well; there’s multi-speed replay, a Video Plus+ timer with PDC, NICAM, hi-fi stereo sound, audio dub and even a couple of cheesy special effects (strobe and ‘Art’ or solarisation).

 

It goes without saying that it’s a bit more complicated to use, compared with a regular NICAM VCR, but it has a fuss-free auto installation system that tunes it in and sets the time and date. The system conversion controls are reasonably intuitive and it’s helped by a well presented set of on-screen displays. Picture quality is well inside the home cinema ballpark, and whilst there is a small reduction in detail and increase in noise, when using the standards converter, it’s perfectly acceptable. Noise levels on the stereo soundtracks are no higher than average and sound quality is fine.

 

Verdict

It’s not the kind of VCR you’d buy just to watch rental movies or tape Coronation Street – though it does both things very well – but if your video interests are more exotic, or you move around a lot, then this machine is definitely worth considering.

 

Contact             Samsung 0800 521652, www.samsungvcr.com

 

Pros

Multi-standard operation means this machine will work anywhere; the standards conversion facility could even earn you a few bob!

 

Cons

Your old gran will hate it; it’s the sort of VCR where you really do have to read the instruction book…

 

Rival Buys

None

 

Quote

‘This remarkable machine can replay any VHS or S-VHS tape, recorded in any video format, on any TV, anywhere in the world’.

 

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Ó R. Maybury 2000, 3008

 

 

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