[I Love Beta!] [I Love Beta!]


Yup, I'm one of those crazy people who love Sony's Betamax VCR format. Although they're not selling consumer models, they still sell professional Betamax VCRs (as well as blank tape) and there's a thriving "underground economy" in used decks, with some models being especially prized for certain features.

"But WHY?" I hear you say... do you really need any more justification than the fact that VHS stinks on ice, technically speaking? If you want to see a list of VHS's pitfalls, check out the page for the Betaphile Club which lists them. There's an (admittedly small) Beta Web Ring with the Beta Info Guide and the UK's Beta PALsite being two of the most comprehensive sites therein.

As for myself, I currently own six -- yes, that's right, SIX -- Betamax format VCR's, though they're not all in use right now.... [grin]

EDV-9300 One of my primary units is the amazing EDV-9300, which is capable of ED-Beta using metal tape (Betacam SP), and is as close to broadcast quality you can get in a consumer marketed deck.

The other primary Beta is the "15th Anniversary" Betamax, the SLHF-2100. Among other things, it is capable of recording in Beta Hi-Band for results of near-broadcast quality, and notably superior to SVHS.

My secondary Beta unit is the SLHF-750, a VCR totally unique in it's CD-tray like "linear skate loading system." You can even have the drive mechanism extend *while recording* to visually check how much tape there might be left. ;)

I've also still got my SLHF-360, my first SuperBeta HiFi unit as a backup. I don't use it routinely since its programmable timer is very clumsy by current standards. It is interesting, though, because this unit was created during an interesting "gap" in TV technology -- Sony had developed Beta HiFi, but there wasn't any standard yet for actually broadcasting stereo programs... so the SLHF-360 has no built-in MTS stereo decoder, though it is fully stereo and HiFi compatible. (Sony later released an "add on" MTS decoder that I don't happen to own for this and similar VCRs.) I also have an SLHF-600 I bought used and had in use until I got the 750.

Finally, I've got a Sanyo Betacord 7250, which is also a SuperBeta/HiFi unit, which I also bought secondhand -- in fact, it was the first unit I bought secondhand (cheap!), but was replaced by the Sony SLHF-600 mentioned above when it turned out to have a subtle flaw -- it records "hot" -- that is to say, if the scene is bright, it's recorded at too high an amplification which then interferes with the video synchronization leading to the picture "twitching." (Most people have seen this effect at some time or another.) I hope to get this fixed eventually, as this unit works fine otherwise and is basically similar to the 600 feature-wise.

And lastly -- yes, I have a VHS deck so I can exchange tapes with the less fortunate, and I occasionally use it for "timeshifting" programs I don't intend to keep. Anything I'm taping that I might actually want to keep, though, is recorded on a Beta unit.