View Full Version : Can you still buy DECENT quality blank VHS tapes?


radiotvnut
01-19-2009, 01:40 PM
With all this talk about VCR's lately and my latest VCR find got me thinking "does anyone still make decent quality blank VHS tapes anymore". The last ones I bought were RCA branded and the recording quality was crap. I like to record old TV shows and I often do this on the SLP setting so I can fit 6-7 episodes on a tape. I am aware that the SLP setting is not the greatest quality; but, it seems like what I've recorded over the last few years has been inferior to what I recorded back in the '80's and early '90's when VCR's were still a hot item. The only thing I can come up with is that the tapes that are currently available are of inferior quality to the tapes that were made 20 years ago. In fact, I wonder how much longer we'll be able to buy new VHS tapes of any quality. I know VCR's are considered "dead" by the electronics industry and, AFAIK, the only ones available today are those cheap made DVD/VCR combinations and most don't even have a tuner built in anymore. This might be a good time for us VCR owners to stock up on blank tapes.

Sam Cogley
01-19-2009, 01:43 PM
Another option - you can get a decent DVD burner for around $100, with a digital tuner built in. Better quality than VHS, too.

vinyldavid
01-19-2009, 02:00 PM
SVHS tape? IIRC you can still get that....it might work.

radotvguy
01-19-2009, 02:28 PM
i see new vhs tapes at flea markets all the time

andy
01-19-2009, 03:23 PM
i see new vhs tapes at flea markets all the time

I'd avoid tapes that have been baking in the sun every weekend at a flea market. I've bought tapes like that before that were totally unusable, even though they were sealed and looked new.

I second S-VHS tapes, or even D-VHS tapes. You can still buy them.

AndyMack
01-19-2009, 08:39 PM
Was walking through my local Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago when I spotted two stacks of new VHS blanks - one some generic brand, the other were Sony's! I might grab 'em next time I go back even though I haven't fired up my VCR in years. I have to get something going to record the local analog shutoffs next month.

edison64
01-19-2009, 09:28 PM
Here is a tip from back in the day, the more the cassette weighs the better the quality, still have many specials recorded on el cheapo off brand tapes that out weigh 2-1 on big brands my favorites were Avanti Aldi brand $1.59 and Gemini k-mart.
most stores still sell a limmited quantity of tapes.

tasha
01-19-2009, 09:46 PM
We've got Sony VHS at our Wal-Mart, every day.

Jeffhs
01-19-2009, 10:14 PM
I can get RCA VHS cassettes for 98 cents at Big Lots. The recording quality, although probably not as good as other brands, is plenty good enough for my purposes, which these days is mostly time shifting.

Snade
01-19-2009, 10:19 PM
I think they still sell VHS tape at Walgreen's or CVS drug stores.

Many times it is on sale.

mech986
01-19-2009, 10:23 PM
Does this assume that all your VCR's have been checked, heads and tape path cleaned, the heads are still good, all pinch rollers working correctly and a good alignment has been done on them?

Also, the electrolytic caps in the power supply and circuit boards have also been replaced - remember many of these VCR's are now at least 10 years old (the good Japanese heavier ones before all that Funai and Korean gear came in) so they're in need of maintenance.

Just so you'll get the best out of any tape.

Bart

Arkay
01-19-2009, 10:36 PM
Timely thread for me. Just a few days ago, someone in my neighborhood threw out a nice, clean-looking "Hi Fi" VCR with Titanium heads, etc... Curious, I picked it up from where it lay beside the trash can, and ... it works PERFECTLY! Not quite in the same class as my JVC/Victor X-1 Limited (Rare Japan-market-only pro/studio model wrapped in an elegant hi-fi housing), but a great second "daily driver", for free! This got me looking again at my tapes, and thinking about things I can still do with VHS, like making hi-fi sound recordings. Which led to the same question of, "Where can I find GOOD tapes?"

The best VHS tapes made were "Professional" tapes. I used to buy them and use them exclusively to tape off copies of LDs I rented from the shop. Perhaps questionable ethically, but LDs, when new, were very expensive!

I've looked and looked for NOS "Pro" quality VHS tape since then, and have failed to find ANY. The VHS tapes being sold new these days seem to always be relatively ordinary tape. Boo-hoo! :(

An audio consignment shop here recently had perhaps 100 such hi-end tapes with classical music recordings and concerts, etc... taped off on them, all matching with neat labels, etc... but I thought their cost was a bit higher than I wanted to pay. You might look for something like that; someone trying to get rid of their "collection". Alternatively, get a Beta recorder and find a TV studio that has gone digital (most have) and will cull their old, archived recordings.

I've "recycled" some of the old pro tapes I recorded way-back-when, because some of the things I taped off back then I've since bought on (now-cheap) LDs or on DVDs. The tapes seem to still be in excellent shape; it's a pretty durable medium!

But some of the tapes I made back then off the television include historic news broadcasts about things like the fall of the Berlin Wall, that I want to keep, so even after the "recycle sort", I don't have enough GOOD blank tapes.

Of course, I don't have and so far cannot find enough DATs, either...
Nor enough DCCs...
At least I can still buy great-quality MDs, even if only in one or two places!

To make it worse, the old guy with the stall selling cassette tapes near my home, who carried the best-still-available "That's" line from Japan, is gone, as happens to people after they grow old. Now I have to go all the way across town to a place that only has occasional and limited stock, to get them. And I've systematically scoured most of Hong Kong shops clean of any remaining NOS Metal cassette tapes, over the past 3 years or so. So you can include cassettes in the list of getting-hard-to-find media.

Playing with "dead" formats is sometimes challenging. The hardware is out there, often still in good shape and very cheap... but when the software disappears,... sigh! :sigh:

Bill R
01-20-2009, 06:43 PM
The Durabrand tapes we sell at Wal-mart come from Maxell.

Bill R

Ed in Tx
01-20-2009, 07:25 PM
Best tape you might still be able to buy for VHS or S-VHS is the Fuji ST-120

http://www.fujifilmusa.com/products/consumer_av/video/vhs_svhs/super_vhs/img/s_VHS120_M.jpg

or the "Pro" version H471S

http://www.walts.com/images/products/ST-120-H471S.jpg

S-VHS tapes work great with regular VHS recorders. Will produce a higher RF playback level for a higher PB S/N ratio and near zero dropouts.

newhallone
01-20-2009, 09:14 PM
Of course, I don't have and so far cannot find enough DATs, either...

Yeah those are pretty much gone now.

I have a couple from college I need to get stuff off. I have been trying to find a dat machine locally for awhile with no luck. I have some archived recordings of my grandfather copied off reel to reel and some projects from school. They didn't quite have cd burners out when I graduated. So it was either dump it on dat or on an expensive jaz drive.:thumbsdn:

zenith2134
01-20-2009, 09:17 PM
Around here I haven't seen many new VHS blanks for some time now. Quality? I wish. And don't get me started on blank audio cassettes. Those have been gone for a long time now... :tears:

radiotvnut
01-20-2009, 09:39 PM
Around here I haven't seen many new VHS blanks for some time now. Quality? I wish. And don't get me started on blank audio cassettes. Those have been gone for a long time now... :tears:

The last time I looked for blank audio cassettes, all I found were normal bias 120 min. tapes. I don't even remember the brand. 120 min. was enough to turn me off. I've got one Sony HF 90 min. normal bias blank left; and, those are nothing to write home about. I have several old cassette decks scattered around here that I plan to fix one of these days. You'd be surprised how many people don't even own cassette decks anymore. I have one friend that owns a cassette deck and no CD player. The rest of the people I run into look at me like I'm crazy when I mention cassettes. You'd think I was asking them about 8-tracks (yes, I do have a few of those tapes and players as well). I don't even think you can get a cassette player for an automobile anymore.

I must confess that I was one of those that thought recording to CD-R was better than recording to cassette until I got a taste of CD-R's. First, my $200 Sony stand alone CD recorder only lasted just shy of 2 years before it went belly up. Second, I never have been able to make a recording with this new windows vista PC. For some reason, the sound card won't accept a line level signal. Third, I'm finding that several of the CD's that I made in the past are now starting to "act ugly". And, not because I abused them. It seems that some CD's do not stand up to those "last forever" claims that were made when CD's first came on the scene. About the only thing I can say for CD-R's is that I can play them in the car (no tape deck there) and I can jump to whatever track I want without having to FF and rewind a tape.

I suspect that blank magnetic tape media will be unavailable on the new market in 5-10 years.

I need to find some decent R2R blanks as well. I have a couple of R2R machines that I might like to use again.

Dennman6
01-20-2009, 10:30 PM
I think they still sell VHS tape at Walgreen's or CVS drug stores.

Many times it is on sale.

Yes indeedy, they sure do still sell blank VHS tapes at Walgreens & CVS. Yesterday I bought two 4-packs of TDK VHS T-120s at CVS, for the express purpose of taping all the presidential inauguaration stuff on ABC & C-SPAN. So far 3 of the 8 tapes have clogged the heads on three different VCRs-totally defeating the intentions I had for the day, having set the timers before going to work. Had to wait til later tonight to try & get SOME of the rebroadcasts on C-SPAN. The TDK crap VHS tapes are now made in gool ol' China. In the last few years they were made in Korea, before that Mexico, before that "tape made in Japan, assembled in USA"(the good stuff). Never had a problem with TDK til today, so now they're on my "S-List", just like Sony A-V equipment(overpriced crap now as well-no more excellent XBR 32" TVs, etc). Oddly the SONY VHS blanks are still good, now made in Korea(was Mexico, & before that US of A).

I have used good quality Hi-Fi VCRs running at SP speed since 1986, knowing they couldn't match the picture quality of my LaserDisc collection. But I have well-made Maxell VHS's from 1983 that play just fine. Tape housings were far better made 10-20 years ago, too. The secret was then, and is now, to use the best tape you can get in a good quality machine, and don't run the heck out of the tape 5 times a day like a kiddie video!

Today I have a pair of Pioneer DVD recorders(2005 & 2006 models, no HD) that I can feed VHS-LaserDisc-Hi8-DVD-Rs into, but I still TAPE off the digital cable box because I too think that burned DVD-R/+R & CD-Rs ain't "forever" media. They're very good & convenient for distribution to folks, & so far in 4 years I've not had a DVD-R failure but HAVE had a half dozen CD-Rs go bad on me in the last 8 years(out of hundreds burned in both Pioneer & Sony CD recorders-the Pioneer is a 2000 PDR-W739 model & is GREAT!). So the whole idea of building a video media library has turned into a big fat crap-shoot. My newest Hi-Fi VCR standalone is a 2003 Mitsubishi(still made with some heft then), & I routinely use RCA, JVC, Mitsubishi units from the mid-1990s. Again, using them keeps the belts from getting "set spots" & keeping them plugged in allows a trickle voltage to be there always-good for capacitors.

It's a good thing I have less than 10 of any given equipment type in any given format, or I'd have to spend half me wakin' hours just doing maintainence!

Dennis Forkel
Indianapolis

MRX37
01-20-2009, 11:47 PM
You know, I think VHS is one format that *should* die. Keep vinyl, keep analog TV, but shit can VHS!

My reasoning for this is not only do digital recordings offer better quality, they don't degrade over time. A VHS tape degrades each time its played. Also, there's the jittering dots at the bottom of the picture, flagging at the bottom, especally as a tape wears out, and all those moving parts WILL eventually break.

I can fit a whole movie, of better then VHS quality, onto a USB thumb drive and play it on my home theater PC. That thumb drive easily fits in my pocket. A VHS tape won't.


VHS quality at its best. :P
http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o121/mrx3750/VHS.jpg

zenith2134
01-20-2009, 11:57 PM
Radiotvnut, yeah the 120 minute ones have 'bad' written all over em. I like a nice 90 minute per side cassette, Chrome preferably. TDK used to make one helluva cassette tape. Get a nice 3 head Teac and enjoy near-R2R quality!

MRX, yeah VHS was never the best format. Beta looks better, to me at least. SVHS ain't bad though. One of the only analog video formats with its own connector type :D

MRX37
01-21-2009, 12:28 AM
Some people are still attracted to Vinyl records because of their superior audio qualty.

Some people are attracted to roundies because of their vivid lollipop colors.

Some people are attracted to vacuum tube amplifiers because of their sound quality.

VHS wasn't a very good format to begin with. Beta was better, but it died. Digital video, if encoded and compressed correctly, will even beat beta in picture quality.

One can literally fit several DVD quality movies onto a chip the size of a quarter, and USB thumb drives of adequate capacity are probably cheaper now then VHS tapes were back in their hay day. To me, it makes VHS obsolete. DVR's can record programs, those recordings can be saved to a DVD, or a memory card even. The only real cons are if too much compression is used, but that can be compared to the SP, LP, or EP quality levels in VHS.

And finally: a VHS tape can only hold so much on it. Maybe 8 hours max at the lowest quality setting. Memory cards and thumb drives just keep getting more and more capacity, while becoming smaller and smaller.

zenith2134
01-21-2009, 12:58 AM
...and cheaper. You have a very valid point.

Zeacon69
01-21-2009, 02:48 AM
Kmart has maxell so does FYE music store, Dollar general has TDK, I use my mitsubishi to watch old vhs have like 200 tapes, i use the blanks to record on the HI Fi track cuz the vcr has vu meters and manual audio rec level

breetie
01-21-2009, 03:10 AM
Some people are still attracted to Vinyl records because of their superior audio qualty.

Some people are attracted to roundies because of their vivid lollipop colors.

Some people are attracted to vacuum tube amplifiers because of their sound quality.

VHS wasn't a very good format to begin with. Beta was better, but it died. Digital video, if encoded and compressed correctly, will even beat beta in picture quality.

One can literally fit several DVD quality movies onto a chip the size of a quarter, and USB thumb drives of adequate capacity are probably cheaper now then VHS tapes were back in their hay day. To me, it makes VHS obsolete. DVR's can record programs, those recordings can be saved to a DVD, or a memory card even. The only real cons are if too much compression is used, but that can be compared to the SP, LP, or EP quality levels in VHS.

And finally: a VHS tape can only hold so much on it. Maybe 8 hours max at the lowest quality setting. Memory cards and thumb drives just keep getting more and more capacity, while becoming smaller and smaller.

Party-pooper! LOL...

Seriously. RIP, VHS.

Ed in Tx
01-21-2009, 09:39 AM
Beta pix quality did beat out VHS a little in the beginning, but the mechanical complexity of Beta was a whole other issue. Hard if not impossible to produce a Beta transport mechanism that could compete with the cost of a VHS.

Pix quality wise, originally Beta could reproduce about 270 lines of horizontal resolution vs VHS 250 lines because it was not possible at the time with that technology to record much over 3 mHz onto the tape, and both formats had to downconvert the 3.58 mHz chroma to a lower frequency (with a drastic reduction in color resolution as a result) to get it on the tape. But when S-VHS came along that pretty much blew away any picture quality issues, as S-VHS's 400 lines of resolution exceeded broadcast video's 330 lines.

As far as recording video onto digital media, specifically DVD-R discs, how many times now have I heard or read of DVD-Rs people have archived their old tapes onto, not playing after only a few years? Likewise with the permanence of a flash memory drive. However I have Beta and VHS tapes that are 30 years old or older that still play fine.

andy
01-21-2009, 11:08 AM
You're forgetting about Extended Definition Beta which went a step beyond S-VHS with 500 lines of resolution.

I always preferred the mechanical design of Beta VCRs (particularly Sony). They were harder to work on if you didn't know what you were doing, but most good things are like that. I never saw a serious mechanical problem that wasn't caused by a botched repair, or alignment attempt. My own personal Betas have been very reliable. Sony figured out how to FF and Rew with the tape threaded from the first Beta, but it took VHS until the late 80's.

Mr.French
01-21-2009, 11:19 AM
I heard on the news yesterday, that VHS tapes were not going to be made after this year. Sorry, the radio announcer did not state his source.

breetie
01-21-2009, 11:49 AM
I heard on the news yesterday, that VHS tapes were not going to be made after this year. Sorry, the radio announcer did not state his source.

It's difficult, really, to say exactly how long VHS as a format has. Prudence dictates that it's not long in this world. The last distributor in the U.S. has ceased selling them, but there are as yet a few manufacturers and distributors in other parts of the world still producing the cassette. Most of what you read should be similar to this (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-vhs-tapes22-2008dec22,0,5852342.story).

Ed in Tx
01-21-2009, 11:54 AM
You're forgetting about Extended Definition Beta which went a step beyond S-VHS with 500 lines of resolution. .

Didn't forget just didn't mention it.

I always preferred the mechanical design of Beta VCRs (particularly Sony). They were harder to work on if you didn't know what you were doing, but most good things are like that. I never saw a serious mechanical problem that wasn't caused by a botched repair, or alignment attempt. My own personal Betas have been very reliable. Sony figured out how to FF and Rew with the tape threaded from the first Beta, but it took VHS until the late 80's. I always blamed the full loaded rewind on the reason so many Beta machines came in with worn out heads and worn out cylinders. I think some of the Sanyo Beta machines would unload the tape from around the cylinder in Rewind. And when I saw VHS machines leaving the tape loaded around the heads for faster control response, I cringed. I preferred unloading the tape from around the cylinder for FF and Rew. The half-load arm that some VHS have that lets the CTL track be used as a real time counter worked pretty well and didn't contribute to head wear. I like that idea best.

I remember when the SL-2500 Sony's first front-loader came out and they were breaking the guide pins off the loading ring left and right, a major repair, along with the FL shaft plastic gears. And the SL-5400 generation with their seizing capstan motors. We were both Zenith and Sony authorized service and were running sometimes 2-3 weeks turnaround from the backlog of Beta machines!

MRX37
01-21-2009, 12:35 PM
As far as recording video onto digital media, specifically DVD-R discs, how many times now have I heard or read of DVD-Rs people have archived their old tapes onto, not playing after only a few years? Likewise with the permanence of a flash memory drive. However I have Beta and VHS tapes that are 30 years old or older that still play fine.

Lets see... my 32 MB compact flash memory card has seen regular use for the last 7 years, and shows no sign of wearing out. Sure it's not 20 or 30 years old yet, but...

It's quicker and easier to make copies of digital video. Copying one VHS tape to another requires either two VCR's, or one of those double decker VCR's, and the quality of the copy will be inferior to the original, maybe not noticibly inferior if you're using a high quality tape and a double decker VCR, but there will be degradation.

You can copy a (non DRMed) digital video an unlimited amount of times, to anything that has suitable capacity, and it will never degrade. It can be damaged if the medium is damaged, but as with all data, it can be backed up, and storage capacity is just getting smaller and cheaper.

wkand
01-21-2009, 04:18 PM
Regarding DAT, there are several PC - Recycle outlets in the Seattle area thaat may be able to help you, but with my comments i am drifting off-topic...Hep me hep me....

wa2ise
01-21-2009, 04:33 PM
My brother has a number of INDECENT tapes... :D