I'm in the market for an S-VHS player. My budget is about $130, maximum. I was sold on the notion of TBC and DNR until I read a decade-old post by orsetto: "I find I have less and less use for my high-end VCRs. Encoding hardware made after 2006 auto-corrects a lot of the tape errors that used to necessitate a TBC/DNR vcr. There is often a price to be paid for every improvement: use the TBC to eliminate tearing at the top of the screen, and you could get jitter instead. Use the DNR to clean up color noise, and peoples faces become unidentifiable smears, over-smoothed by DNR."
I think I want to go with a JVC, Mitsubishi, or Pioneer. Orsetto has had success with Pioneer and lordsmurf usually approves of certain JVC players.
Here's a list of VCRs I found on a certain online marketplace. I have no idea which ones are superior to others, so help in ranking them is wholly welcome.
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I highly recommend reading this article by lordsmurf at digital.faq.com . Especially the "What does a basic capturing workflow look like?" section. http://www.digitalfaq.com/editorials/digital-video/professional-analog-workflow.htm#ixzz5XvBr5vKQhttp://www.digitalfaq.com/editorials/digital-video/professional-analog-workflow.htm
In a nutshell, a good VCR is only one component of getting a good capture setup / high quality capture. In addition $130 is way to low for a S-VHS machine. Any at that price or below is either due for major maintenance/repairs $$$ and/or if described as good or better on say Ebay, the seller is outright lying since they're going for much, much more in that condition. In addition, some of the machines you list (i.e. the AG series and possibly others) are professional machines which are generally only made available when they're near the end of their lifespan.
I don't know if lordsmurf still has them, but he was selling off a lot of spare machines (cleaned and tested good) at digitalfaq.com He also has a couple of complete capture systems currently available, but again, much more than $130.
The truth is painful, but trying to keep you from coming back asking why your captures don't look as good as you think they should. Asked and answered hundreds of times here.
$130 is eBay "for parts" territory
- or "working" (not actually working correctly)
- or "tested" (putting in a ratty retail tape, hitting play, seeing a picture, ANY picture, and declaring it A-OK -- ie not tested)
You can probably find a 29xx or 59xx, but those were often awful EOL machines, bad QC, and nothing special. Good ones do appear, and are convenient for special circumstances, be it non-capturing, misaligning for screwy tapes, pairing with ES10/15, and things of that nature. Not ideal for general-use capture.
TBC doesn't often cause tearing, nor necessarily fix tearing (reason for ES10/15). Nor often cause jitter, nor necessarily fix jitter. Those can all happen, but it's minority it the time, maybe 2% of time?
DNR doesn't cause smearing. It's not a blur filter. It can, but more often does not. It's complex, depends on tape condition, tape content, the heads condition of the deck, and some other factors.
From that list, JVC HR-S7900U, JVC SR-V101US, and Panasonic AG-1970 are most definitely the better picks. But condition also matters. You have to be really careful with Panasonics caps issues. The 7900 and 101 were not tanks, so you don't want one that was ridden hard, never maintained, never cleaned.
... and I'm sounding more and more like orsetto these days. Get off my lawn!
Thank you for your well-written explanations. I've read the links you two have provided. It looks like I'm going to have to postpone buying anything until my budget allows it.