Because every positive mention of any VCR model on VideoHelp or DigitalFAQ instantly drives flocks of eager buyers to eBay, it should be noted here that the Panasonic PV-S4990 is a unicorn that almost never appears for sale, partly because they're incredibly rare and partly because they have an even more ghastly reliability/repair record than the AG1980 (and thats saying something). I owned a couple of these back when they were current, along with a few lesser models from the same vintage and followups circa 1992, and they were among the worst VCR purchases I ever made. Late 1990 thru mid-1993 was probably the most uneven design and engineering era in Panasonic consumer VCR history: many reliability and repairability issues with the transports/tracking, and confounding electronics issues with the top of the line 4990 and its two or three similar (but more cheaply constructed) followups. Reports of these issues were common on the prehistoric web (alt.rec.vcrs etc). Frustratingly, Panasonic service depots would flatly refuse to repair them even one day past their warranty period.
The 4990 and its two followups are almost impossible to find now in any condition: early JVC DigiPure TBC/DNR models outsold them 30:1 so Panasonic barely bothered to run a production line (the last of these unsellable leftover stocks technically remained at the top of Panasonic's consumer lineup for nearly a decade, while every other consumer Panasonic model was redesigned from the ground up year after year). The more marketable, profitable "prosumer" AG1970 (later AG1980) far eclipsed the 4990 series in sales volume and buyer awareness, promoted as Panasonic's "luxury consumer" models at select retailers while the 4990 followups slipped to "special order only" status. Because they are so rare with so little awareness, there are no proactive specialists like Deter or TG Grant around who regularly fix the 4990 or its two later sisters. johnmeyer was very fortunate he found a tech willing to do so: most of these early-90s Panasonics have been reduced to doorstops that will never function again.
A shame, because despite their poor construction playback performance was Panasonic's consumer peak. After 1993 Panasonic returned to more reliable, sturdy construction techniques in their consumer VCR lineup but the video playback quality suffered. PQ declined gracefully from 1993-1996, then fell off a cliff from 1997 on (after 1996, the only great-playing Panasonic model available new was the expensive AG1980). If you're a gambler and you want to try the elusive PV-S4990, I'd recommend limiting your search to that one model. It has stubborn electronics issues but at least the transport is usually repairable. The two followups have bad electronics and unrepairable defect-plagued tape loaders. I (mercifully) forgot the exact model numbers (PV-S4280? 4370?), but they're easy to spot: more matte plasticky looking than the elegant 4990, with a TBC switch under a square-shaped flap to the left of the tape slot.
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Last edited by orsetto; 14th Sep 2021 at 12:22.
Just sent a second deck to Deter. First repair looked great
As said earlier, FedEx has really dropped the ball on the quality of their shipping. I don't trust them at all any more for any gear. Been sending UPS.
I have my fingers crossed that this unit will continue to work for the rest of my life (10-15 years, in my case).
I am so relieved to have found this thread, and am about to send my AG1980 to Deter for repair, as its video output craps out after several minutes of use.
On a similar note, does anyone have suggestions for a technician to rehab a Sony Betamax SL-HF900, properly?
They are wonderful to work with, and their correspondence is really clear. They seem to mostly do camcorders but you could write and ask them if they can repair your deck, or whether they can suggest someone else who can do the work. No one else would even give me a quote for the repair, given how difficult it was. The fixed it perfectly.
I used to send my Sony decks to "Dr. Sony:"
but three years ago had a less than stellar result with a repair he did on a 1980s 8mm Sony deck. However, he had done several repairs prior to that which turned out really well. As you will see from the link, he does repair Betamax decks.
https://mrbetamax.com/ ... and he appears to be an insane information treasure trove, as well as having a repair service. I would sure love to know if anyone has used him, as he says he is former Sony tech.
Here is a little update:
Tig's never sent the VCR back so my suspicions and what I suspected from the start has not changed.
As far as Betamax units, it is nearly impossible to find parts for them as long as the parts inside the unit are not broken, I can fix it. I went to MisterBetamax website and I checked his price on a Sony 2100 which he is selling for $2,500. That is good to know cause I have one of these that I rebuilt.
As far as Dr. Sony, I actually met him in real life.
I think I had three repairs done by Manny (Dr. Sony) before the 8mm Deck where the picture was not stable after the repair, no matter which tape was used. All those units worked fine and all are still in service.
I actually have to thank him, in a backward sort of way, because I had to finish the 8mm video project, so I did some research, found the "best" option for transferring all three 8mm formats (8mm, Hi8, Digital8) found a NIB version on eBay (amazing luck) and have been using that unit ever since. The video quality is fantastic and having the ability to also handle Hi8 and Digital8 means I can now handle every consumer video format (OK, I don't have a CED disc player).
What FedEx is was prioritize those packages from their big clients, mostly medical related shipments, and deemphasized their one off clients.
UPS did the same thing, with at one point them telling shops in malls that they would not be picking up an shipments from them nor delivering.
This lasted well into this year and from what I hear, thanks to the massive storms that hit the Memphis area this year, including one that knocked out the main FedEx hub in Memphis hub for 2 weeks, they are still struggling to get everything under control.
I, for one, am so grateful to Deter for taking my AG-1980 for repair, and he hasn't even gotten it from FedEx yet – TG Grant's web site (and he backed this up in a message to me) makes it clear he will not work on 1980s below a particular serial number range... and mine fell into that range. His note back:
"The AG1980s with the "5" as the second digit are from the first production run in 1995. There's a couple of different style circuit boards in them, as well as some early production run mistakes that need rectified. I'm sorry but I can't take that in for repair and I don't have any parts that I can sell you."
So, far as I'm concerned, since Deter apparently has no issues rebuilding these "alternate" circuit boards – and I wish I knew what "mistakes" would "need rectified" (sic) – it's a no brainer where the machine was going to be sent for repair.
In continuing this thread about comparisons of Panasonic-to-Panasonic, does anyone know the production history of the AG-7500 broadcast deck vs. the 1980? Are any circuits shared? I have one of these, as well, working pretty well, and consider it top-notch for SP transfers, though I do run into tracking issues from time to time, particularly with hi-fi tracks.
I have worked on TG Grant machines all he does is recaps the Y/C card. He doesn't fix anything.
As long as I have the parts can fix anything on these units and sometimes it requires another machine,
Three times this year have gotten in machines with busted up front panels with broken plastic shields. From broken pinch rollers to destroyed loading mechanism to broken plastic gears to even replacing the video heads. Yes, can even do the Jog shuffle dial if I have another one in stock or the customer sends another unit for parts.
Yes FedEx has smashed up units. The guy in West Virginia FedEx smashed up the loading bay and front panel. He sent the unit back, took pictures and we filed two claims with FedEx and they refused to pay the claim. I fixed that unit for free and had to even bend the metal frame back in to place.
It costs me a lot of money and than time to rebuild these units and I only ever offered this service because it is just about impossible to find repair shops that actually fixes these units.
The Panasonic Broadcast decks have double or triple the amount of capacitors they are monster projects just on recapping.
Sent you a PM
The 7500 is one of the earliest SVHS Panasonic "broadcast" decks as far as I know. I don't know about the development process, but I think the AGDSxxx models are the closest one to the 1980P of the broadcast ones, like the 1980P those also used digital processing for much of the decoding process that is done in the analog domain in most VCRs.