Press, “Play.” Stop. Press, “Fast forward. Stop. ” Press, “Fast forward” again. Stop. Press, “Rewind.” After a lot of whirrrring back and forth. Stop! That’s exactly the spot you wanted. Sound familiar? Maybe — but it won’t be long before this common procedure is a thing of the past.
We’ve all heard the expression, “The only thing constant is change.” Nowhere is this truer than in the world of technology.
In the 1970s, the VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) put us in control of our television sets. Camcorders and VHS (Vertical Helical Scan) tapes also put us in the director’s chair, enabling us to easily produce home movies.
Now, the VCR/VHS technology is going the way of 8-track tapes, vinyl LPs and the typewriter. (Remember all those?!) Are we just imagining it, or is the VCR really out the door?
VCR becoming obsolete
Look at the evidence for yourself…
- According to a 2006 Nielsen study, more American households have DVD players now than have VCRs.
- In 2006, all major movie studios in the United States stopped producing VHS tapes films.
- In 2008, JVC — the first company to make VHS players for consumers — announced it would no longer make stand-alone players (although it will continue to make DVD-VHS combo units for the time being).
- In October 2008, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Florida warehouse run by the last major supplier of VHS tapes.
- In 2008, Borders Books and Music announced it would only carry special interest videos on VHS.
- Circuit City announced the elimination of VHS movie titles from its shelves altogether in 2008.
- Best Buy has made a huge cut back on its VHS shelf space, devoting an overwhelming percentage instead to DVD.
- When was the last time you bought a movie in VHS format?
- How many of your friends still own a stand-alone VCR?
What is replacing it?
- HD-DVD (high definition DVDs)
- DVR (digital video recorder)
- Online streaming/downloads
Movies in DVD format made their debut in 1997 and have been growing stronger ever since. DVDs, however, are not the last word in technology. VCRs are also battling against Blu-ray, Tivo, on-demand movies and pay per view. Viewers can’t help but be lured away from the VCR format when they can easily download a movie onto an iPod or play a movie on a computer.
VCRs are unable to offer even a fraction of the features of these newer formats in the industry. It’s all about convenience, compact size, economy, and features. When it comes to these advantages, all the new technology options have it hands down over VCRs.
What to do with VHS tape?
Fear not: You can still enjoy your collection of favorite old movies for years to come. If videocassettes rule for you, go buy half a dozen VCR players now, while they’re still available and are dirt-cheap. You can pick them up for a great price brand new or for practically pennies at yard sales and on eBay. Stash them away in a closet somewhere and you’ll be set for a long time. (Remember, too, that the industry has been helping us gently transition into the new technology with DVD/VCR combo units.)
If you’re true-blue to the VCR/VHS format, pick up your favorite old movies and shows, while you’re at it. They’re also available for literally pennies these days. Stock up on them as stores clear their shelves and new technology buffs make room for DVDs.
Protecting your memories
Many of us have stacks of VHS tapes with family birthdays, weddings and get-togethers. What to do with all these precious memories? The wise move would be to convert them to DVD, even if you’re stocking up on a few VCR units. Memories are special and we want to hold onto them in every way we can… and magnetically-recorded plastic videotape on reels is not known for being a particularly durable format.
Recycling Your VCR
- Donate it to a local school, religious group, youth group, rec center or a nursing home still using VCRs.
- Sell it in a yard sale or on eBay.
- Donate it to Goodwill, Kiwanis or other community group.
If it doesn’t work…
- Bring it to a local certified electronics recycling center.
Change is good!
In this age of technology, we’ve all learned to embrace change. Still, we each must decide when is the right time to say, “Good bye!” to our VCRs and “Hello!” to whichever format will best replace it. Whatever your final decision, spend wisely, and recycle or donate whatever you no longer need.