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  1. Member
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    First time poster here.
    I love all vintage audio and video tape mediums (and new tech) and one of those interests is VCR's.
    Recently I bought my first Betacord a fully functional mono Sanyo VTR-M30.

    Someone out there may be able to help with a question I have regarding tapes.
    Currently on a local auction site there are for sale L500 tapes, some with old movies on them - but one of the movies is Dances With Wolves which is approx 4 hours long - so will my above mentioned unit play those tapes at the right speed if at all?

    Other info is they were recorded in Indonesia and are stated as legit but look a little "homebaked" in the images i.e. stickers & typed text look unprofessional.
    I have researched this topic but there is frustratingly little on forums and googling brings up the same old stuff?
    Does this unit sense the tape speed to play these longer tapes - I have read about BI BII BIII and wonder whether my machine uses this technology?
    This is a PAL unit.
    Thanks for any replies.
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    Thank you for saying Betacord and not Betamax! Beta is the format and Betamax is only Sony Beta VCRs.

    Any consumer Beta VCR other than the first Sony Betamax will play back βII and βIII. Most professional Beta machines will only play back and record βII.

    The max playback time of an L-500 (which is the amount of tape in feet) is 195m for PAL, 180m for NTSC at βIII. So the movie must be on a L-750, L-830 or if it's a commercial release, a custom length. Look at the dust cover, the spool length may be printed there.

    L-750's are standard and will probably work fine in any machine. But beware of any L-830 as they use an even thinner tape than the L-750 and are prone to jamming and breakage.

    While playing with vintage electronics is fun, VCRs are extremely complex and it's likely the belts and other rubber parts are probably worn out and need replacement. IMO, best not to stress them doing unnecessary recording and playback as they're all well past their end of useful life. As much of a Betaphile as I was (20+ Betamax), when I moved in 2017, I sent them all to a well deserved final rest.

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  3. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Thank you for saying Betacord and not Betamax! Beta is the format and Betamax is only Sony Beta VCRs.
    I saw you mention this elsewhere a while back. I didn't know that.

    Betamax is the deck brand, sort of like Nikon has Nikkor lenses.
    Beta is the tape format.

    Somehow, it was retconned where the tape format is Betamax. And I think Sony endorsed it, especially by using Betacam as the next format. And yet, ED-Beta and SuperBeta.
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    Thank you for your informative reply.
    The image of the Dances WW tape I am so curious about, which seemingly shows BIII at an incredible 4h 30m with 222 feet of tape - or does it?!

    The Betacord VCR is a curiosity for my Man Cave. I was fully prepared to do the idlers and belts but she's a good one and works well even with an accurate "tape remaining" indicator. Good picture too, a little superior to VHS in my opinion. Must have been restored at some point.

    I am a collector of Vintage tape mediums - everything from Reel to Reel, 8 track, Handycams, Video Walkmans, Vinyl, etc.
    I have very basic electrical repair skills and work out the mechanics of devices - but know when to seek help from the local vintage repair guy.

    Where I live tapes are rare, and I have the opportunity to buy all the Beta tapes I will ever need and more very cheaply.

    I am interested in comments with regard to it please (e.g. if it's indeed only 222 feet how do they fit 4+hours on it?)
    All the other pictured tapes in the auction are L500, so I assumed the DWW tape was too?
    Image
    [Attachment 74907 - Click to enlarge]
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  5. The only reason to buy counterfeit products is if they are significantly cheaper than real ones and not significantly worse. This tape in particular, you can record one yourself.
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    Thank you for saying Betacord and not Betamax! Beta is the format and Betamax is only Sony Beta VCRs.
    I saw you mention this elsewhere a while back. I didn't know that.

    Betamax is the deck brand, sort of like Nikon has Nikkor lenses.
    Beta is the tape format.

    Somehow, it was retconned where the tape format is Betamax. And I think Sony endorsed it, especially by using Betacam as the next format. And yet, ED-Beta and SuperBeta.
    The master learned something from me? : yeah:

    Trivia: IIRC, probably read it in Akio Morita's excellent book, Sony couldn't trademark the Beta name and letter, so they added -max and trademarked that in 1974. Interestingly, at least to me, is the the trademark covers cassettes, TV receivers and tape recorders. https://trademarks.justia.com/730/89/betamax-73089740.html Makes sense since the the first Betamax was integrated into a TV console.

    Which is why only Sony branded tapes are also Betamax and other brands are only Beta or have the β logo. I noticed this in the very early 80's after I got my first Betamax and wondered why only my Sony branded tapes had the Betamax name. And was scared to be non-Sony tapes because I wasn't sure they were compatible.
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    I am interested in comments with regard to it please (e.g. if it's indeed only 222 feet how do they fit 4+hours on it?)
    All the other pictured tapes in the auction are L500, so I assumed the DWW tape was too?
    An L-750 is 750 ft, ~229 meters and can record up to ~4:45m in Pal / 4:30m in NTSC. The times listed on the box are for NTSC. Not sure about VHS, but all Beta tapes could record up to ~5 minutes more in βII. Almost useless trivia time. IMO, "B" when used to refer to Beta speeds is incorrect. It's β (for Beta) or Beta I, Beta II, Beta III.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betamax

    Unlike VHS where the number designated the running time, Beta tapes were all listed by the length of tape inside.* So VHS tapes for Europe were prefixed with an E and therefore an E-120 was equivalent to a T-120 in the U.S., for recording time, but held less tape.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHS#:~:text=A%20VHS%20cassette%20holds%20a,play%22%20(SP)%20quality.

    *However, professional Beta tapes such as Beta SP, were labeled by their running time.

    Using this as an opportunity to ramble on about my beloved Beta. In addition to βI, βII, βIII. There was also βI Hi-Band, introduced in the SL-HF1000 and βI Super Hi-Band introduced in the flagship SL-HF2100. IIRC, βI Hi-Band could be played back in the companion SL-HF900. But the βI Super Hi-Band could only be played back by the SL-HF2100. In addition, βI tapes recorded on the original LV-1901, which only recorded in βI. won't play back properly in another other machine because it used wider videoheads than those used to allow βII in the SL-8200 going forward.

    If you find your machine fascinating, watch the SL-HF2100 (the 15th Anniversary Beta) in action. I can't bear to watch because it breaks my heart!
    But as great as it was, I felt it was second to my pair of EDV-7500s, which were the last Betamax I owned.

    Unfortunately, all the machines I listed where NTSC only. The best Beta/Betamax Europe got was the SL-HF950. Which despite it's name is the SL-HF750 in North America and Japan.

    I don't know anything about professional Beta machines, but Cornucopia and I believe dellsam34? know a lot about them.

    You're a tape machine collector, but IMO, the Pioneer LD-W1 Laserdisc player was an engineering marvel! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGZym8G2rbY

    It held two Laserdiscs at once and would automatically play all four sides in sequence, though it took up to 30 seconds to move the motor into position making an awful racket in the process. It also had digital freeze and frame by frame for non-CAV discs. It was a behemoth, built like a tank! At least mine had a better faith than my Betamax(s) since it went to Goodwill.

    Understandably, it's a unique one of a kind Laserdisc player! I've think I've read rumors of an LD-W2, but I'm probably conflating it with the LD-S2

    If you're interested, here the LaserDisc Database: https://www.lddb.com/ which is understandably focused on NTSC.

    Thank you for sharing my love of Beta!

    Edit: For those who are curious about why I gave up on my beloved Betamax(s) and hundreds of tapes. In 2017, we sold our family home and I had had to seriously downsize. Only about half of my 20+ machines were fully working, and they along with my tape collection took up half a room. And by that time, I had largely moved on to DVDs. Which i still collect to this day, though all of them have been transferred to my hard drives for easier access.
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    I just took a closer look at your picture and it's 1000% not an original. Not only is the tape not in a retail case, it has Chinese wording and the LaserDisc logo on the bottom. So it's very likely a copy from a Chinese LD.
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    I just took a closer look at your picture and it's 1000% not an original. Not only is the tape not in a retail case, it has Chinese wording and the LaserDisc logo on the bottom. So it's very likely a copy from a Chinese LD.
    Chinese or HK? I don't recall many boot LDs not coming from HK.
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    Great info thanks!
    My other question then is, if some of the tapes are NTSC (you refer to the timings on the DWW box as NTSC) will my PAL Sanyo VTC-M30 play them?
    I am guessing your response will be - no?
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    Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    I just took a closer look at your picture and it's 1000% not an original. Not only is the tape not in a retail case, it has Chinese wording and the LaserDisc logo on the bottom. So it's very likely a copy from a Chinese LD.
    Chinese or HK? I don't recall many boot LDs not coming from HK.
    Ahhh...good for you catching [me] committing my Pet Peeve #218! Using the term Chinese generically to describe anything from Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan or mainland China as Chinese nationality versus ethnicity. My apologies to anyone from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan!

    Off topic, but trivia of another of my interests.

    Don't know the legal specifics of each title/release, but there were definitely non Hong Kong releases from companies like Long Shong in Taiwan. These were usually the Taiwanese theatrical versions of Hong Kong movies, which were often released there before Hong Kong itself. And sometimes were different than the Hong Kong releases. Probably the best known Taiwanese version of a movie is the longer alternate version of John Woo's The Killer https://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=476290 Unfortunately, AFAIK, there never was a [Taiwanese] LD release of The Killer.

    Edit: Some/many? of the Taiwanese, don't know if there were any Mainland Chinese LD releases, were created from the same source, possibly even directly recorded, from the VHS versions.

    Even today, Hong Kong based companies like Tai Seng and Mei Ah release their movies in Hong Kong and Taiwanese versions. With the Taiwanese versions usually being lower quality and sometimes different versions. I bought the Taiwanese DVD of Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time because it had a few seconds of Joey Wong Jyo Yin / Wang Tsu Hsien as "The Girl". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_67NlpqsG0

    Trivia. These few seconds show that "The Girl", played by Charlie Yeung Choi Lei in the actual release, was completely different. Reportedly more like the actual character in the Jin Wong's The Legend of the Condor Heroes.

    Sorry for the off topic. I rarely get to share about my favorite subject. Asian cinema.
    Last edited by lingyi; 18th Nov 2023 at 23:12.
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    Originally Posted by Graay View Post
    Great info thanks!
    My other question then is, if some of the tapes are NTSC (you refer to the timings on the DWW box as NTSC) will my PAL Sanyo VTC-M30 play them?
    I am guessing your response will be - no?
    Correct. With the exception of a handful of multi-system, usually PAL/NTSC/SECAM Beta VCRs, all other VCRs are system specific. Here's a thread with a list of models: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/396147-Betamax-Player-Dual-Format-NTSC-PAL

    These were primarily for the UAE market and were very expensive. I considered getting one during my Betaphile heydays, but decided against it as reports of the time [stated they weren't as good as single system units]. I believe in addition to the machines listed in the thread above, Aiwa also made a multi-system model.

    Note that AFAIK, none of these machines did any system conversion internally. You needed an external converter or a multi-system TV.
    Last edited by lingyi; 18th Nov 2023 at 11:32.
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    Since you're interested in vintage tape systems, you may be familiar with the V2000, which as Techmoan says, was: The format that came third in a two-horse race https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeSz6MoX00Q www.v2000.palsite for more info.

    I highly recommend Techmoan's channel, especially for someone like you who's interested in vintage tape systems.
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    You will be lucky if it was recorded from a LD, My gut feeling tells me it was recorded from a VCD, based on the jacket that used to accompany those illegally copied discs, VCD is a very mediocre format used for bootlegging back in early 2000's of VHS, LD and DVD pre-recorded materials, It barely resolved VHS quality at best. I would stay away from any non-official copies regardless the source and only get materials from well known production houses. If bought in lots they are pretty cheap nowadays.
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    Thanks for your reply Lingyi.
    I watch Techmoan & another interesting You Tube channel is "12volt vids".
    I am happy I have found answers to all my questions from this forum.

    The tapes I have been asking about were bought when the seller was in Indonesia.
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    Edit: Mods, I apologize for getting too off-topic. The OP's question has been well answered.

    Originally Posted by dellsam34 View Post
    You will be lucky if it was recorded from a LD, My gut feeling tells me it was recorded from a VCD, based on the jacket that used to accompany those illegally copied discs, VCD is a very mediocre format used for bootlegging back in early 2000's of VHS, LD and DVD pre-recorded materials, It barely resolved VHS quality at best. I would stay away from any non-official copies regardless the source and only get materials from well known production houses. If bought in lots they are pretty cheap nowadays.
    I disagree. The artwork shown is definitely from the LD release and most Asian VCD covers I've seen are much more eye-catching, i.e. larger pics and text because of the CD sized case. At least for Hong Kong and Japanese releases, almost everything was released on LD, except the most obscure, low budget movies.

    Oddly, I don't see Dances With Wolves listed as a release at LaserDisc DataBase (lddb.com), so it's likely a bootleg. https://www.lddb.com/search.php?search=dances+with+wolves&sort=title

    LD trivia for those few who may be interested.

    Prior to 1995 when I got on the 'net, I found out about what was available through the LD rental stores. I'd ask if a title was available on LD and be told if it was, but was out on rental. There were a couple of handful of releases that were confirmed to exist, but I was told they were rented out and never returned.

    The LaserDisc DataBase (LDDB) has 4851 Hong Kong LD releases https://www.lddb.com/search.php?adv_search=*&adv_reference=&country=3 and 1783 Taiwan releases https://www.lddb.com/search.php?adv_search=*&adv_reference=&country=11 Japan releases can't be displayed because they exceed 5000. Granted, a good number of them are karaoke discs, but that's still thousands of movies! And this list is definitely not all encompassing.

    The heyday of LDs ended in Sept 2001, when the last Hong Kong laserdisc was released. VCDs continued to thrive, particularly in India and Pakistan well into the 2010s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaserDisc#:~:text=The%20last%20title%20released%20in,Tok...lden%20Harvest.
    Last edited by lingyi; 19th Nov 2023 at 18:49.
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  17. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
    I disagree. The artwork shown is definitely from the LD release and most Asian VCD covers I've seen are much more eye-catching, i.e. larger pics and text because of the CD sized case. At least for Hong Kong and Japanese releases, almost everything was released on LD, except the most obscure, low budget movies.
    You can disagree all you want, I've never said the artwork is not from LD. But I've personally seen those VCD's sold in flea markets and China towns back in early 2000's here in the US, not only the quality of the video is mediocre but often the aspect ratio is wrong. Off course they are going to copy the art work from the laser disc jacket, What else they are going to get it for free? Internet database was not as rich as today when it comes to materials artwork.

    His VHS cassette was copied from such VCD based on the evidence of the artwork itself that was pulled from an actual VCD disc bootleg copy, unless they were copying both VCD and VHS and slapping VCD artwork on the VHS cassettes, I can see that happening. But most of VHS bootlegs I've seen had cheaply made VHS artwork often black and white photocopies.
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    [QUOTE=dellsam34;2713207]
    Originally Posted by lingyi View Post

    His VHS cassette was copied from such VCD based on the evidence of the artwork itself that was pulled from an actual VCD disc bootleg copy, unless they were copying both VCD and VHS and slapping VCD artwork on the VHS cassettes, I can see that happening. But most of VHS bootlegs I've seen had cheaply made VHS artwork often black and white photocopies.
    Slight correction - these are Beta tapes not VHS.
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  19. Capturing Memories dellsam34's Avatar
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    Yes that's correct, They were VHS and Beta bootlegs.
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