Monday, September 21, 2009

My VCR crashes, just in time for the new TV season

In the very late seventies, my dad bought us a VCR. It was a Beta. When you put the tape in the machine this thing popped up out the top and sort of looked like part of Mr. Spock's science station. It did not have a remote control, but it had this pause button on a wire that you could use when you were recording or playing a tape. The Beta tapes were smaller than VHS, and were better than the VHS available at the time.

I don't even remember what brand we bought, just that it was something we had actually heard of before we went to the store.

The VCR worked just fine, and with the pause button on a wire I would sometimes edit out commercials. I taped the ABC airings of the first two Star Trek movies with additional footage. We got a card to rent videos at some local independently owned video library.

Life was good.

At some point, it was decided that American public did not need both the VHS and the Beta (though professionals continued to use Beta for a while), and we could no longer buy or rent movies on VHS. We could still buy blank tapes and record stuff off of the TV.

After a time, my dad bought a VHS. It didn't work as well as the older Beta machine, but at least we could rent new movies again.

Around 1989 or 1990, my dad gave me the Beta. It still worked, and I still had some movies that I had bought on Beta. And I could still record stuff off of the TV on blank tapes. We got a VHS player that did not record, so we watched new movies on that.

My house was robbed. They left the Beta and took the cheap VHS player.

And then the local stores stopped selling blank Beta tapes, and we had to buy a VHS that would record stuff of off the TV. I eventually replaced all the movies I had on Beta and gave up the Beta machine. I don't remember what year that was, just that I did not have the Beta machine when I moved in 1999.

If someone out there has my Beta machine, it probably still works.

While the VHS tapes did finally look as good as the old Betas (or at least, if they didn't I just got used to how they looked), the machines themselves were never as good. The last few machines I've had were total pieces of crap. Each new machine works for a shorter period of time than the older one.

Then we got a DVD player. The DVD players worked just fine. Maybe they have fewer moving parts or something.

Well, the DVD player destroyed the TV screen. We had to buy a new TV. But the DVD player and the TV seemed to get along alright as long as we didn't stack them on top of each other.

Then came the VHS recorder/DVD player combo. That seemed to work okay for a while.

A few years back, my mother bought me a VHS recorder/DVD recorder combo. Merry Christmas. Thanks, Mom.

The previously bought VHS recorder/DVD player combo was still working, and I had plenty of VHS tapes. We didn't immediately switch to the new machine. In fact, the new machine stayed in it's box until we got around to it about a year later, when the VCR side of of the older machine started doing some annoying thing. I don't even remember what particular annoying thing, cause eventually I had had many different machines do all sorts of annoying things.

So, we hooked up the new machine and decided to try out the DVD recorder. We didn't notice that there are four different kinds of recordable DVDs (in addition to the DVDs looking pretty much like CDs and once buying some of those by mistake), and we bought the 16x DVD+R instead of the 16x DVD-R. So, we got an error message.

Having just bought about a hundred of the wrong DVDs, we decided to wait a while for the right DVDs to come on sale. We just used the VHS recorder instead. We bought a bunch of VHS blank tapes. Life went back to normal.

Last Christmas I found a bunch of 16x DVD-R on sale, and I bought about a hundred of them. And then I got busy with other Christmas stuff and never tried them out. The blank DVDs went in the other room with all the other computer stuff, and I forgot about them.

My VHS started refusing to rewind tapes at fast speed. We fixed that problem by going to a Goodwill and buying another VHS machine. Not that we hooked it up to the TV, we just used it to rewind tapes.

Last week, the VHS/DVD recorder combo ate the tape that I had recorded Fringe on. My first VHS machine used to eat tapes, but it had been a while since I had encountered this particular problem.

Maybe it is time to switch to the DVD recorder. I dug out a blank DVD. I got an error message. Maybe that is the wrong kind of disk. I dug out one of the other kind.

I got the same error message.

After looking at the machine to find out that it is supposed to take DVD-R and not DVD+R, I got out a different 16x DVD-R. I got the same error message.


Apparently, the Symphonic SR90VE VHS/DVD recorder combo was a piece of crap new and just out of the box, but it is only now that I am finding out about this particular problem. A bit of surfing found that a lot of people had to do some sort of upgrade to get it to use the 8x DVD-R instead of the 4x DVD-R, though it is supposed to use both of those and the current 16x DVD-R that I tried. I have not yet seen any mention of anything that will get it to work with the 16x DVD-R.

It has been suggested that a 16x DVD-RW would work better even on a machine that seems to prefer slower speeds, but I haven't tried that yet. I would rather not spend money on yet another package of blank DVDs until I know they would actually work. It has also been suggested that I just order some 4x DVD-R or 4x DVD-RW from someone online and try those, but again, I'd rather not go to the expense without having one to try first.

I decided to ask my brother if he had one that I could borrow.

He used the last of his about a week ago, making a copy of some season of The X-files.

And I really have no money for any of this anyway. Due to the thing with the bank fees, not only did we have a not so great paycheck, but we didn't get to spend about four hundred of that after a check of a hundred and something that my husband did not remember writing went through and we were charged another couple hundred in fees due to insufficient funds following the forgotten check being cashed.

So that's it. I'll probably miss The Big Bang Theory tonight. I'll miss either House or Heroes too, but whichever one of those I don't watch I can probably watch on Hulu the next day.

On top of that I am trying to decide whether or not to go to Shreveport. I wasn't going to go, cause I thought it would keep me out of town next Saturday, but as it turns out the trip starts tomorrow and would end Thursday, so that doesn't sound bad at all. Still, I have a lot of work to do before I could leave, and then if I was going to get any knitting done while I was away I need to go and find some specific yarn today. Again, I have very little money, so I'm trying to plot out a shopping trip that will hit all the right stores without spending too much on gas, and I must make a list and not buy anything that isn't on the list.

Or I could just stay here and do some more cleaning.

Me? Cleaning?

That's probably not going to happen, is it?

1 comment:

dmarks said...


DVD recorders suck:

1) I've had two. Both of them did not last a year.

2) They used to cost about $80 or so. Now they cost $160. That's pretty bad too.

The good news is on the VCR front. People are always giving them away now. If you have Freecycle, you might find some right now.

Hulu does help though.