So about a year and a half ago I purchased a Panasonic AG-1970 online and was in shock to discover this was the quality of the one I received.
[Attachment 51313 - Click to enlarge]
In addition to the poor quality, some of the buttons on the unit werenít working and the lights on the unit were very dim. Skip to last summer I sent it out to a guy in Texas to have it looked at. After a few months I got a response and was told they refurbished the digital board, power supply, re-lubed the mechanism...etc. and that the unit was in perfect working order. I finally received the unit back and while I can confirm the units buttons and lights were in better working order the quality looked the same....actually no it looks a tad worse!
[Attachment 51314 - Click to enlarge]
I emailed the guy who said his tech guy had tested it and everything was fine and suggested it might be because my tapes are too old. I donít think thatís a fair assessment since the same tapes look and play just fine on some other units I have (none of them are S-VCRs though). Anyways skip to about a month ago I took the unit to a guy closer to where I live. He said he would call me back within the first week, he never did. I called him today and he said he would look into it when he got to his shop and would call me back. Still waiting for that call at the time of this post. If I donít hear from him I plan on going back to his shop tomorrow to find out the hold up.
But anyways judging from those screenshots is this even something that CAN be repaired or is the particular one I have just junk by this point?? I really donít wanna invest in another VCR but at the same time I donít wanna be waiting month after month for a response on something that in the end may be beyond repair. If I do invest in another VCR itíll likely be the Panasonic AG-1980 even though I really canít afford one right now but I have tapes I want captured and that one seems highly recommended so weíll see. Anyways thoughts????
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Those still pics don't really communicate why you're disappointed or what you expected.
But in general, no: a Panasonic AG-1970 is not worth getting repaired in 2020. Not unless you can get it done for reasonable cost ($150 or less), and even then only if you very specifically need it to track some troublesome LP or EP tapes that won't play on anything else.
Not that theres anything intrinsically wrong with the AG1970: it was/is an excellent VCR in terms of tracking ability and raw standard video playback. I find it preferable for a lot of my captures to some other more popular "legendary" JVC and Panasonic decks. But its incapable of improving any tapes you load into it: the TBC/DNR is laughably weak, to the point it has only a vestigial (if that) impact on playback quality. If one is going to drop several hundred dollars on a VCR overhaul, the AG1980 is arguably worth the cost, the AG1970 is not.
That said, the AG1980 is a horror show. They all need a tremendous, unrealistic amount of repair work today before they can deliver the performance they became famous for when VHS capture was a big activity sixteen years ago. Short of a miraculous barn find, expect to pay a total of $600- $800 for a properly serviced AG1980 (or a beater that you then have serviced). Once acquired, plow thru digitizing all your most important tapes immediately. Don't stall or delay, because a "restored" AG1980 doesn't always deliver 100% high performance for very long before it starts degrading again (entropy is baked into its electronic design).
Last edited by orsetto; 2nd Jan 2020 at 17:03.
I think you have to take into account what a TBC/DNR and S-VHS are for and mean when judging the Picture Quality.
The TBC corrects for side to side "waviness" in the picture from one horizontal line to the next.
It won't affect color, brightness, saturation or sharpness.. those are the things people think about in static "pictures".. that you posted still pictures makes me think your looking at the wrong thing in the pictures.
Color, brightness, saturation or sharpness are variable based on tape signal strength, video cables, power coming out of wall on a particular day.. sometimes a VCR will have a few controls to adjust those.. but really a standalone Proc-Amp is for making changes in those.. not a VCR.
The DNR corrects for intermittent signal drop outs or spikes that introduce noise in the video signal.. basically it "spackles" over (or patches) imperfections in a continuous video signal and smooths out problems that look like static in the moving image. Its "fuzzes" the edges.
The S-VHS is mostly for capturing the higher fidelity image (sharper edges) and more accurate colors possible when a higher speed tape and smaller heads were used to record the moving picture.. but few people could afford to do that back then, and it was more for playing back store bought movies where a 2 hour program took up an entire tape. Today S-VHS vcrs are more valuable for their s-video outputs, which coincidentally came with many S-VHS vcrs.. they did not have to have s-video, but it was much more likely than with a plain non S-VHS vcr. The S-VHS vcrs were also higher price and more likely to have a more consistent build quality.
Its very true the (single) most important aspect of that model, and Panasonics in general were their ability to tease out a stable signal when all other vcrs failed to lock on to a signal and track properly. All other considerations fall to the way side if you can't get a stable frame on the screen.. even color.
You can set the TBC/DNR and S-VHS, S-Video aspects aside if you can't extract a stable picture frame from the tape.. that's what that model does better than most others. Those other aspects can be corrected outside the VCR with standalone equipment. But if you can't properly track a tape.. its all for nothing.
We are all still expecting a single (all in one 'magic' box) from a single vcr.. rather than littering the living room with a collection of studio equipment.. don't under estimate a stable "moving" picture.. everything else can be fixed after the fact.
Last edited by jwillis84; 6th Jan 2020 at 12:01.
Aside from its better than average tracking range, I forgot to mention there is one very arcane, specialized circumstance where the AG1970 playback can run rings around any other VHS deck ever sold, including the later AG1980 and "legendary" JVC models.
For 99% of tapes most people own, the TBC feature in the AG1970 is irrelevant. It either fails to improve the playback significantly, or in many cases actually makes playback worse (image is very slightly smoothed, but color goes awry). Almost always, its better to leave it turned off.
The one scenario where the AG1970 TBC is absolutely stellar is when you need to tame a very "hot" tape (overexposed camcorder footage that has been dubbed down a generation or two). Something like people in dark clothes against in a bright white room, or near a big sunny window or terrace, where the overexposed background so overpowers the scene that you see a washboard distortion on screen. For whatever unknown reason, the normally meek and useless TBC in the AG1970 "wakes up" when confronted by this specific video issue, and repairs it about as well as it could possibly be repaired even by a pro post-production facility. Not only does it eliminate most of washboarding distortion, it somehow re-balances the apparent exposure, miraculously restoring some detail that was previously lost in totally bright or dark blooming.
So if you regularly need to view or digitize tapes with this very narrowly specific defect, the AG1970 is peerless, and well worth whatever it costs to repair. If not, move on to another more versatile TBC/DNR model.
Last edited by orsetto; 6th Jan 2020 at 14:27.
AG-1970 is ... different. I fired up my 1970 yesterday, ran my full test tape battery through it.
Tracking is amazing, like the 1980.
I know 1970 caps aren't quite the nightmare of the 1980.
But quality is reduced some. It's no 1980. It's no JVC.
The TBC is weaker.
The NR slider does something, but still weak.
The 1980 is as bad as orsetto says. It's a money pit. Even after refurb, it can blow up again. All of our decks were serviced twice in the 2010s, mostly by TGrant, each time costing about $400 all-in to repair. As mentioned, when the unit is good, use it or lose it. I already have a no-go deck in need of re-serving a 3rd time.
VCRs have line TBCs. Do not confuse with external framesync TBCs, which have different reasons. You need both.
The 1980 actually has a field/multi-line TBC. Not sure about 1970.
I think the 1970 makes hot tapes worse, not better. It exaggerates values at times. But maybe that's just my deck. Unlike JVC, Panasonic vary wildly from unit to unit.
I'd suggest another VCR as a primary deck.
The 1970 is worth repairing, should not be trashed/recycled, but also not good enough to be the main centerpiece of a capture workflow.