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HINTS AND TIPS SEPTEMBER

 

QUERY OF THE MONTH

 

MAINTAINING STANDARDS

Name              Sandy Chisholm, London SW7                          

Kit                   interested in a VCR to record NTSC tapes   

Problem            Whilst on a holiday to the US Sandy brought a number of tapes to fill gaps in her collection. She was aware that they wouldn’t play on her VCR, but a friend’s machine does have NTSC replay. Sandy want to know if there’s any way she can copy them onto her machine, so she doesn’t have to keep borrowing her friend’s VCR?

 

Expert Reply              Leaving the issue of copyright aside for a moment, the only way to do it would be to ‘transcode’ the recordings and there are a number of specialist firms who carry out this sort of work, mainly for camcorder owners, wishing to send tape abroad, or wanting to watch video movies sent to them. The video output signal from a VCR with NTSC replay isn’t pure PAL, and cannot be recorded; most of the conversion work is actually done by the TV. Panasonic used to make a VCR that could convert from one system to another (i.e. NTSC to PAL), sadly the NV-W1 is no longer in production, you might be able to find one if you hunt around, but it’s not going to be cheap! There have been one or two models others with built-in standards converters, though all the one’s we’ve seen have been very poor quality. However, you should be aware that duplicating a copyright recording is illegal, even if its only for your personal consumption; companies who carry out conversion work will normally refuse to touch copyright material. 

 

MEET YOUR MAKER -- PANASONIC

 

 

 

TV/VCR AND SATELLITE QUERIES

 

TOP TAPER

Name              David L. Poon, Woodford, Essex                         

Kit                   Simply wants the best VCR on the market           

Problem            An apparently simple question, David wants to know which, in our opinion, is the ultimate VCR, how much does it cost, and where can he buy one?   

Expert Reply  It’s not as simple as it sounds. We can disregard professional machines on the grounds that they’re not designed for domestic use, nor do they have TV tuners or timers. If we can put the question of cassette format to one side as well, then my vote goes to the mighty Sony DHR-1000. It’s a full-size DVC machine, with NICAM and all the rest of it; it will set you back £3,300, and it won’t play tapes from your local Blockbuster store. Just to be difficult I’ll nominate two Super VHS video recorders, the JVC HR-S700 and the Panasonic NV-HS900, they’re both available for around £700. If you want plain vanilla VHS then it’s JVC again, this time with the HR-DD845, costing £400.  

 

THE SOUND OF SKY

Name              Neil Westwood, via e-mail       

Kit                   thinking about digital satellite          

Problem            With dozens of digital satellite TV channels just looming over the horizon Neil asks the perfectly innocent question about what sort of audio the new system will use?   

 

Expert Reply              Don’t know is the simple answer. At the time of going to press the exact nature and configuration of the audio channels that will accompany BSKYB broadcasts is being kept under wraps -- assuming the final decisions have been taken. As soon as we know, we’ll pass it on.

 

 

COMBI-NATION

Name              Simon Embury, Carshalton, Surrey            

Kit                   Panasonic VCR, Sharp NICAM TV   

Problem            TVs with built-in VCRs seem like a good idea to Simon, he wants to know when someone is going to make one with a decent-sized screen, and NICAM sound?           

 

Expert Reply            Big-screen combis have been around for some time, though manufacturers in their wisdom have decided against marketing them in the UK. Most of the models available here have 14-inch screens. When they first appeared, about ten years ago, they were mostly sold as in-store video presenters, recently they’ve started to break into the second TV and bedroom market. The largest combi on sale right now is Samsung TVP-5350iST, which has a 21-inch screen; traditionally combis have mono sound systems. The market has been doing so well lately that we know a couple of manufacturers are planning to introduce larger models, with stereo sound. No names, no pack-drill but we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see one or two 25-inch NICAM combis next April, with at least one of them coming from a European company whose name begins with a P...

 

HISS OFF?

Name              Charles Dexter, via e-mail             

Kit                   looking for a top-quality stereo VCR   

Problem            All of the NICAM VCRs Charles has listened too have what he describes as ‘unacceptable’ levels of background noise. He want’s to know why and if there’s one we can recommend, that doesn’t sound like there’s a hissing snake on the soundtrack.

 

Expert Reply            The stereo hi-fi recording system can be a bit noisy, compared with squeaky-clean digital sources like CD. It also varies from machine to machine, though none are immune. There is a correlation between price and performance, so you’re going to have to start thinking in terms of spending £400 or more. That said, the JVC HR-J635 at £380 has good noise suppression, in the sub-£450 price bracket the Panasonic NV-HD610 is the one to go for, all other things being equal.

 

LOFT AMBITIONS

Name              Vernon and Penny Moorhouse, Bridgend, Glamorgan                             

Kit                   They want to buy a satellite system           

Problem            Vernon and Penny have just moved to Wales and have just discovered that their house has a restrictive covenent, which prohibits the erection of a aerial or satellite dish. There is local cable TV but it’s expensive and doesn’t provide the full range of channels they want to watch. They would like to know if it’s possible to install a satellite dish in a loft, and if so, which is the best model?

 

Expert Reply            The signals from TV satellites are unimaginably weak by the time they’ve struggled through the earth’s atmosphere, which is why highly efficient antennas are needed to pick them up. Anything between the dish and the satellite -- roof tiles, or even the leaves on a tree -- are enough to wipe out the signal, so mounting a satelliute dish in your loft would be a complete waste of time. The

covenent is obviously intended to p

 

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COULD’VE BEEN A CONTENDER

 

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1997 1809

 

 

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