A video home system, which is better known by the widely used acronym VHS, plays videocassette tapes through a videocassette recorder (VCR), however not all recorders are the same. To choose the best format to suit your needs, you may opt for a combination VHS recorder and digital versatile disc (DVD) recorder. Depending upon your personal preference, you may wish to choose a VHS recorder and player that allows you to record to DVD, or you may simply opt for the stand-alone VCR.
It's important to choose a videocassette recorder that has decent tracking control. Without it, you may have trouble during playback or perhaps not be able to play back the video at all. Picture quality will also depend upon the machine's ability to track well. It is also recommended to choose a unit that has a four-head video system rather than two, as it will typically offer better picture quality. Your VHS recorder will also need a built-in television tuner, unless you have some type of conversion box to pick up the digital TV signal.
Another factor when choosing your VHS recorder is brand. If you opt for a cheap model from a unknown manufacturer, keep in mind you may be compromising quality. Choose a company that has a reputation for producing top quality electronics. Check to see if a toll-free telephone number is included to take troubleshooting questions, offer set up guidance, and answer general customer service inquiries. Besides customer support and assistance, you should also check for a manufacturer warranty, preferably one that covers 90 days or longer.
One more feature you might find helpful is one-touch recording. This enables you to record quickly, without going through a two- or three-step process. Most VHS recorders will have this feature, but check to be sure.
If you are purchasing a used VHS recorder, be sure it comes complete. This means it should include the necessary hook-ups, such as TV cable and remote control. Otherwise, you'll have the hassle and extra costs of buying these necessary accessories separately. An owner's manual is very helpful as well, especially if you have no other means of customer support.
A videocassette recorder with an up-convert feature might be somewhat more expensive than other types. Up-conversion is a technical term meaning the machine will transform your standard definition into high definition. Keep in mind, this typically works with the DVD portion of the player, and will not apply to a stand-alone VHS recorder.