Over the years the VCR has revolutionized home entertainment by allowing users to record their favorite TV programs on VHS tapes and watch them later.
However, since the emergence of DVDs and flash drives, the use of VHS tapes has quickly slowed down leading to the demise of VCRs. But this does not necessarily mean that VCRs are still not in use to date.
Some companies and even individuals still prefer to record their content in VHS tapes thus necessitating the need for a good VHS player.
In this article, we will look at the 9 best VCRs of all time and some of the factors you need to consider when selecting one. Read on.
Top 9 Best VCRs
1. Sony SLV-N750
If you still own video cassettes and you would love to enjoy the good old time videos, then the Sony SLV-N750 is what you need. Designed with home theater in mind, this wonderfully functioning video cassette recorder from SONY has surely lived up to its reputation over the years.
The VCR comes with a 17-inch home theatre size chassis with silver accents. This ensures that it blends well with the WEGA TV’s and your homes decor. It also requires minimal set-up and it’s easy to use.
For optimal picture quality, the SLV-N750 employs SONY’s 4-Dual recording playback heads. Two heads for EP speed and two heads for LP speed. What’s more, the VCR has 19 micron recording heads that help in providing superior quality pictures in EP mode as well as minimize distortions caused by crosstalk.
The SLV-N750 also has a superbly engineered Hi-Fi stereo system that offers a wide dynamic range and full-audio frequency response. You also don’t have to worry about what your kids are watching as the VCR comes with a child lock system.
- Sleek design that blends with home decor
- Hi-Fi stereo system
- Simple recording and playback
- Minimal set-up required
- Comes with various inputs that make it easier to connect with other devices such as a camcorder
- Flash rewind spool. Can rewind a t-120 cassette in 60 seconds
- Only two speed choices
2. JVC HR-XVC39
The JVC brand has over the years earned a great reputation for producing highly innovative home electronics across the world. The JVC HR-XVC39 is among one of its many VCR models with superb capabilities.
Unlike most VCRs, the JVC HR-XVC39 has DVD, VCR, and HDMI recording capacity, which ensures brilliant and quality recording. Furthermore, it supports multiple playable formats including VHS, VCD, and CD, which makes this device convenient for all purposes.
With this VCR you can dub your content from DVD to VHS. This means that you can store and play content in different formats. Better still, it comes with a superb Hi-Fi stereo system and 3D-surround sound capability. You can also get past commercials thanks to the commercial skip feature.
- HDMI recording
- Noiseless output with HDMI
- Hi-Fi stereo system
- Great design that saves on space
- Multiple playable formats
- Does not include HDMI cable in package
3. Sanyo RFWZV475F
The Sanyo RFWZV475F is one of the best DVD/VCR recorder ever made by Sanyo. Although it’s no longer in production, its demand is still huge. But what makes it so loved by many?
First, the Sanyo RFWZV475F has the ability to play and record VHS tapes and is compatible with DVD-RW and DVD-R disc formats. What’s more, it has the capability to dub from VHS to DVD and vice versa as long as the content is not copyright protected.
When it comes to video output, the RFWZV475F supports 1080p video up-scaling via HDMI and has a progressive scan mode feature that ensures that you get high quality images with minimal flickering during playback.
Noticeably, this VCR recorder has an inbuilt tuner and S-Video output. However, for you to be able to record TV programs, you’ll need to have a DTV converter box or cable.
- Has HDMI output
- Supports DVD, CD, and VHS playbacks
- Combo recording capacity
- Includes an S-Video output
- Package includes remote control and batteries
- Does not play PAL VHS tapes
4. Panasonic PV-9450
When it comes to electronics, brands do matter. And the Panasonic brand is one of those brands that has been there over the years and continues to offer exceptional home entertainment products. One iconic product is the Panasonic PV-9450 VCR.
While it’s not feature rich, it does, however, offer the most important ones that you’d need for VCR recording. To begin with, the PV-9450 comes with a 4-head video quality that works hand in hand with the hi-fi stereo system to ensure that you get high-quality videos and audio.
Interestingly, this VCR has a timestamp feature that displays the date and time when your recording was made and the channel from which it was recorded. You’ll also like the trilingual screen display that is well positioned at the front to allow faster and easy operation. The package also includes a universal remote control.
- 4-Head video for quality pictures
- Hi-Fi stereo system
- Universal remote
- Easy set up and operation
- Not feature rich
5. Funai ZV427FX4
Sometimes all we want to do is sit and watch our favorite DVDs and VHS tapes. The Funai ZV427FX4 offers you the best of both in a whole new light.
Just like you’d expect from a premium product, the Funai ZV427FX4 comes with a HDMI output with a 1080p video up-scaling. So when you connect it to a HDMI enabled TV you can experience near High Definition picture quality.
What’s more, the Funai ZV427FX4 is compatible with VHS tapes, CDs, and DVDs which makes it quite flexible and convenient for everyday home use. It also allows DVD to VHS dubbing and vice versa as long as the content in question is not copyright protected.
It’s however important to note that this VCR combo does not have a tuner. So for you to be able to record TV programs, you will need to have an external tuner such as a DTV converter box or Cable.
- HD up-scaling
- HDMI output
- 5 speed recording for up to 6 hours
- 2-way dubbing
- S-video input and output
- No built-in tuner
6. Samsung VR375
If you want to replace your old VCR recorder with a new one that has a modern outlook, then the Samsung VR375 DVD recorder/VCR combo is just the perfect choice.
Featuring a polished black finish, this versatile unit has the capability of playing VHS tapes, DVD, CD, CD-R/RW, MP3, JPEG, DivX and other formats. What’s more, it can record those old VHS tapes to DVD.
To ensure that you get crisp and distinct picture with a better sound quality, the VR375 combo offers a 1080p HDMI up-conversion and a 4-head Hi-Fi stereo system.
The unit employs One-touch live recording. This means that you will never miss a moment because this feature helps you to capture whatever comes on instantly.
However, like most DVD/VCR combos, it has no inbuilt tuner. Therefore, to record your favorite TV shows, you’ll need to get an external tuner.
- 4-Head Hi-Fi stereo system
- Multi-format playback
- 1080p HDMI up-scaling
- One-touch live recording
- User friendly
- No tuner
7. Funai DV220FX5
The Funai DV220FX5 is another practical and basic VHS and DVD player from Funai Corp. with the capability of bringing those old family videos back to life.
This dual deck player brings with it the latest technology including Dolby Digital stream out. What’s more, it plays back instantly when it’s connected directly to a TV or via Cable.
For faster and easy set-up, the package includes an AV cable. Although, there’s no tuner, the line-in recording allows you to record your favorite TV shows on VHS tapes. It also has an auto-eject function that ensures that tapes do not get stuck inside the player.
You also don’t have to keep worrying of what the kids are watching, thanks to the lock system that prohibits unwanted access. Other notable features include the multilingual operating system, still frame and slow motion, and a remote control system.
- VHS functionality
- Easy to set up
- Auto-eject function prevents tapes from getting stuck
- Parental lock system
- Comes with a remote control
- No tuner
8. Magnavox ZV427MG9
The Magnavox ZV427MG9 from Magnavox is one of the best known VCR combos.
Simple in design, the unit supports 1080p video up-scaling via HDMI, which means that you get to enjoy crystal clear images. Along with the HDMI, the VCR combo uses progressive scan technology to ensure that you get smoother, crisp, and more lifelike pictures.
When it comes to recording, the Magnavox ZV427MG9 allows you to record VHS to DVD or DVD to VHS for up to six hours. The unit also offers conveniences like one-touch recording for instant recording.
The 2-In-One design is also quite convenient as it eliminates the need to purchase a separate VCR and DVD recorder thus saving on space. Additionally, it fits seamlessly with most home theatre systems.
However, it has no tuner so you might need to get an external tuner in order to record live TV. The parental lock also helps in preventing your kids from playing inappropriate content.
- Multi language options
- HDMI output
- One-touch recording
- Dolby Digital compatibility
- 1080p up-conversion via HDMI
- Parental lock system
- No TV tuner
9. LG RC897T
If you are looking for a versatile VCR combo with unlimited capabilities, then look no further because the LG RC897T offers just that.
Unlike most VCR combos, the LG RC897T has an in-built digital TV tuner which makes it easy for you to record your favorite TV programs.
With a 5 different recording speeds to choose from, this unit has the ability to record and play most DVD formats. In addition, you can dub from VHS to DVD or DVD to VHS.
Another nice touch is that LG RC897T supports HDMI output with 1080p HD video conversion. What’s more, there is a USB media host that allows you to plug your USB flash drive and watch videos or listen to MP3 music.
- Built-in TV tuner
- Built-in Dolby digital decoder
- USB media host
- HD component video output
- Home-theatre friendly
- A bit slow before it starts recording
- Remote is too small
What to Consider When Buying a VCR
Inbuilt TV tuner
When shopping for a VCR, consider one with an inbuilt TV tuner. An inbuilt tuner makes it hassle free for you to record your favorite TV shows without having to connect to an external tuner.
VCRs are quickly becoming a thing of the past and their supply is shrinking. As such, the remaining units that are currently available in the market are becoming more and more expensive. So if you are on a budget and need a brand new VCR, it will be hard to find one at low-price. Alternatively, you can look out for used/refurbished units, which you can get at a cheaper price.
Recording mode quality
The recording mode lets you record long videos with the same quality as that of shorter videos. For instance, most Panasonic VCRs (most have been discontinued) have a superior 4-hour recording mode that lets you record longer videos with the same quality as that of the 2-hour recording mode.
Hi-Fi Stereo System
When shopping for a VCR, you can either choose one with a Hi-Fi stereo system or one with Mono audio. Among the two we recommend the Hi-Fi stereo system because it offers a wide dynamic range and full-audio frequency response.
If you have Super-VHS tapes, you’ll need to buy a unit that’s compatible. While there are VCRs that will play these tapes at VHS quality, very few will play them in Super-VHS quality. To ensure that you get the best quality, purchase a VCR with an S-Video port.
Frequently Asked Questions about VCRS
Why should I buy a VCR?
Although most VCR manufacturers have ceased production due to the limited use of VHS tapes, most people still own VHS tapes that contain those cherished home videos. As such with a VCR you will be able to transfer those videos to DVD.
Why is a VCR with a cable ready tuner better?
The simple answer is that a cable ready tuner allows you to record your favorite TV shows without a converter box.
Why are 4-video heads important?
This is because with multiple heads, the overall picture quality is improved. They also allow better playback and video recording at different speeds.
Why do VCRs eat tapes?
The most common reason for this phenomenon is a worn out or dirty idler tire. This prevents the reel from turning causing the VCR to eat the tape.
Do VHS tapes expire?
VHS tapes use magnetic strips to store information. Overtime (usually after 15-25 years) the tape losses magnetism causing the picture quality to become degraded.
It goes without saying that VCRs have passed their prime. However, with a good VCR you will be able to transfer those cherished home videos over to DVD and continue enjoying them. After all, with the influx of DVDs, VHS tapes are quickly becoming obsolete.