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Sharp VC-MH722, NICAM VCR, £190,

VERDICT ****

 

Why’s it here: The VC-MH722 is one of two recent arrivals from Sharp. This is the new season's entry-level model, the other one (MH742) is a £250 mid-ranger with some interesting bells and whistles (review soon). Gone are the days when a budget VCR meant a basic specification, however for the MH722 to have any sort of impact it needs to be special. This segment of the NICAM VCR market is fiercely competitive and top-name manufacturers like Sharp have their work cut out just maintaining market share against a backdrop of cut-throat pricing by the B-list brands.

 

Any unique features: In fact the feature list is quite modest by current standards. It has a full auto-install system that tunes and sorts the channels, sets the date and time. On the front there's a set of AV inputs, it has a switchable picture enhancer, and if it gets pinched the chances of it being reunited with its rightful owner are improved with a postcode security system. Other than that there are no real surprises, it will replay NTSC tapes, there's a child lock, fast deck mechanism, low-power standby (1 watt) and the remote will control Sharp TVs

 

How does it perform: Actually the very low power consumption deserves a pat on the back and the deck really does motor along, it will fast wind an E-180 end to end in around one minute. Picture performance is on the good side of okay, our sample resolved 240-lines, which is fine, but strong colours were a smidge noisy and when the picture enhancer was on the image edges looked a wee bit hard. The hi-fi tracks are clean; background noise is lower than average and the response is wide, flat and home cinema capable.

 

Our Verdict: The front panel cosmetics are quite snazzy and the display is a good size, easy to read across a room. It's easy to install and reasonably user-friendly. Nevertheless, reluctantly we must deduct a couple of points for the button-infested remote handset, but it gets them back again for the handy front-panel jog dial speed/transport control. The MH722 is a tidy little machine, it's fairly priced and even has a bit of personality, worth considering.

 

Sharp, 0161-205 2333

 

UP CLOSE

 

Features            NICAM, stereo hi-fi sound, Video + timer with PDC, auto installation,  NTSC playback, postcode security, child lock

                       

Sockets                       rear: AV in/out (2 x SCART), stereo audio line out (phono), RF bypass (coax) front: AV in phono

Dimensions                 430 x 281 x 92mm

 

Picture Quality            ***

Sound Quality            ****

Build Quality              ***

Features                     ***

Ease of use                 ***

Overall value              ****

 

Rival Buys

Aiwa HV-FX800 £200, Sanyo VHR-789  £200, Tatung TVR754 £170

 

Captions

Extra points are awarded for the shuttle dial and the controls are generally well laid out and easy to use

 

An unusually large number of buttons for a relatively basic machine, well, it looks impressive…

 

 

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Ó R. Maybury 1999, 0608

 

 

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