How do I Choose the Best Combination DVD and VHS Player?

Beginning in the early 1980s, video cassettes and video cassette recorders, or VCRs, were the top-of-the-line way to store and watch video content, and the majority of films released were sold in the form of “video home system,” or VHS, tapes. By 2000, however, digital video had made a strong entry into the market, and films that were once on tapes became available on digital video disc (DVD). Shortly thereafter, manufacturers began producing products that would serve as both DVD and VHS player. Choosing a DVD and VHS player now that VHS tapes are rarely sold can be a challenge, but the devices are still available. Choosing the right one requires an understanding of the system limitations and requirements, as well as a firm understanding of why the device is desired and how it is intended to be used.

A DVD and VHS player can be desirable for many different reasons. A family with a large video cassette collection may wish to purchase a combination DVD and VHS player to watch both old and new movies. DVDs also have a longer lifespan than video cassettes, and many people choose to preserve the content of their videos, particularly home videos, by copying the content to DVD format. Many joint players can record as well as play, and usually are able to record cross-media.

Identifying your goals in looking for a DVD and VHS player will make the search easier. Some machines are better and faster at recording than others. Play quality can also be a variable.
Interaction with existing equipment should also be a consideration. Knowing the kind of television or media system that you are going to be hooking the DVD and VHS player up to can help narrow down your options. If your media system requires certain coaxial cables or other equipment to attach external devices, be sure that the DVD and VHS players you are considering can support that capability. A sales associate or manufacturer’s representative should be able to help determine what is needed.

It is also important to know what sorts of movies the player will need to handle. Many VHS tapes and DVDs are coded by country. Media purchased in one country will not always play in a player that is coded for another country. International DVD players are available, but finding one in connection with a VHS player can be a harder task.

Since video cassettes are only rarely produced anymore, VHS players, even in combination with DVD players, are not manufactured in the quantities they once were. Many of the models on the market may be relatively old. Particularly in the United States, age and model year are something to pay attention to.

In 2009, the U.S. switched from analog to digital television signals. In order for older televisions and TV-recording technology to receive the new digital signals, they must have digital converters either installed or attached. If recording from television is something you wish to do with your DVD and VHS player, you will need to be sure it can receive digital signals, if not automatically then through a converter.
Recording is a popular thing to do with DVD and VHS players, but virtually no players are available that will copy DVDs to VHS. The copyright laws of most countries prohibit the copying of protected video content, and the technology power of DVDs has, in most places, been used not only to provide superior video quality, but also to lock the content from unauthorized copying. VHS tapes usually lack these protections, and copying is typically feasible. The ability to copy does not mean that copying is permissible, however. If the content of the cassette is copyrighted, copying may nonetheless be illegal.