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Do Not Throw Away VHS Yet

Updated on April 4, 2016

With the conversion from the analog to digital TV broadcast, the popularity of the satellite and cable programming, and the emergence of the HDTV, VCR that plays the VHS tape is not only hard to find but also is difficult to interface with the new generation of video equipments. But, if you are repulsed by the monthly cost of the satellite and cable/DVR subscription and are still satisfied with the free over-the-air digital TV broadcast, you can still find a way to record and watch your favorite programs using the VHS tapes.


The CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) TV has been around since the 1950. It was designed to receive and display analog broadcasting format over the airwave. In order to free up more bandwidth to accommodate other transmissions over the airwave, digital broadcast format officially replaced the analog type after June of 2009. But the CRT TV can still be used with the help of a Digital TV converter (DTC) costing $20 with the government issued free coupon. One dramatic improvement is the photo-quality picture using only a simple small antenna. The interface diagram for the setup is shown below.


The diagram below shows the setup with the addition of a DVD/VCR which is made by Magnavox ( DV220MW9A) costing around $90. In this configuration, the CRT TV input selection shall be set to ‘VIDEO’. The VCR can be programmed and can record only the channel that the DTC is selected to. During recording, only the CRT TV power can be turned off.


As the HDTV (High Definition TV) drops in price, more people are switching to the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) based 46” and larger sized screen with photo-quality clarity. The LCD HDTV not only comes with built-in converter but also with myriad types of video and audio interfaces. It allows direct hook-up of PC, camcorder, audio systems, DVD/Blue-Ray, etc. No one seems to care about how to make the old VCR/VHS works with the HDTV.


The diagram below shows the interface to a HDTV. The HDTV input selection shall be set accordingly. The VCR can be programmed and can record only the channel that the DTC is selected to. During recording, only the HDTV power can be turned off. While watching the free program from the airwave, the VCR power can be turned off.

The S-Video port (RED block) or the Component In port (ORANGE block) connections are used strictly between the HDTV and DVD (no VCR). They usually provide better picture quality. When using those hook-up, the RED and Blue audio cables are still required.


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