DVD/VCR combo player came out I thought it was the greatest invention ever. Even now it is still a good component to have in your audio visual arsenal. You may not use the VCR part of the unit as much as the DVD, but it is still good to have for those random VHS tapes you unearth during spring cleaning or movies that aren't yet available on DVD. Whatever you use it for, you want to have the right model
DVD/VCR combo player for your particular situation, be it hi-fi or just for a spare bedroom TV. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your search:
- VCR specifications. This is pretty simple for the most part, because the VCR technology is essentially the same for all of these types of devices. They will all have hi-fi stereo, 4 head, progressive scan and the ability to record on blank VHS tapes. The recording functions include auto clock, channel setup and an event timer to record up to 8 different shows with one tape. There are a select few models that have super-VHS capabilities, which improves clarity, but you need to be watching Super VHS tapes.
- DVD specifications. The DVD side of the player is where most of the differences between models are found. Most DVD players play most video disc formats, from DVD-Video to DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW. Basically the "-" discs are mostly used by apple and can only be recorded on one layer. The "+" discs are mostly used by PC's and can recorded on multiple layers giving it more storage and thereby making it more expensive. The "R" stands for recordable and the "RW" stands for re-writeable. For more on the differences between all these formats check out this article. Most DVD players usually also handle audio CD, VCD/SVCD, and CD-R/RW discs containing MP3 music or JPEG image files.
It's a good idea to get a model that can play all of these media types. You will appreciate the convenience afforded by having a player this versatile. Some DVD players have processors that will improve the quality of less-than-perfect DVDs while getting the optimal quality of pristine discs. Some DVD players have recording capabilities. These can record your favorite shows or even the VHS tape you have playing in the same unit! Using DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW media, you can save these tapes and shows digitally. If you don't have a DVD burner on your computer or a DVR, I'd recommend getting one of these models even though they are on the expensive side.
- A/V Hookups. This is what makes the difference between a passable picture and a true high-definition one. Most models will come with the standard composite jacks (the old red, yellow, white cables) and S-Video. Most also come with component video (Y/Pb/Pr) output, which has separate connections for luminance (Y), blue color difference (PB) and red color difference (PR) that give you almost true HD pictures. The one you will want if you have a high-definition television, however, is one that has HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface). This will support standard-definition (SD), enhanced-definition (ED), or high-definition (HD) video, plus multi-channel digital audio -- all using a single cable. This is the best for true high-def viewing and will only affect your DVD viewing, same as the component video hookup. On the audio side, models run the gamut from standard stereo all the way up to digital surround sound decoders. Again, the high-end sound comes with a higher price.
- Prices. The lower-end DVD/VCR recorders combo units that have just a good VCR and DVD player, but are not the best
DVD/VCR recorders will run you around $100. These don't have DVD recorder or any image processing and might not play all your digital media discs, but will be good enough for your everyday needs. A mid-range model will cost about $150 with DVD recording capabilities. $200 to $300 gets you everything you need for a great high-definition picture and sound and are the best
DVD/VCR recorders. You can actually go even higher and get a model with a built-in hard drive that will save your tapes and DVDs, costing you over $400!
Before making your purchase, decide how you plan to use the DVD/VCR combo player and figure out how much you're willing to spend on one, especially if you want the recording option; you'll have numerous players from which to choose. Happy shopping!