Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why VHS is better than DVD

It's been sitting in a cardboard box in the spare room ever since we moved house almost a year ago, but I just can't bring myself to throw away our VCR.

After acquiring a DVD player, two video game consoles and a Foxtel box, our telly has more loose wires than Charlie Sheen – and no spare plug for our little silver tape player. So into the cardboard box it went.

Not that this is much of a problem. It's not like we're starved for entertainment in the casa di Starke. If we actually turned on one of the video games we bought at huge expense I'm sure we'd have hours of fun.

But despite our VCR's relative uselessness, I just can't bear to see it go.

Or the tapes. Combined, my boyfriend and I have about 30 old VHS tapes, ranging from the sublime (This is Spinal Tap, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) to the ridiculous (an absurd museum souvenir video of me dancing to Yothu Yindi when I was 14) and the completely unnecessary (What Women Want). (I blame my boyfriend for that one). (Yes, really. He actually bought it).

We've also got at least two copies of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (one $20 ex-rental) and a tape of Ferris Bueller's Day Off lovingly recorded off the television from around 1991, with priceless old ads still included.

I wish I knew how to quit you.

These days everything is on DVD, or Blu-Ray (whatever that is – I saw it in a shop once), or downloaded from the internet. And this is all fine and good. (Particularly downloading videos from the internet, which is better than good, it's completely ace, and I have no idea how we existed without it.)

But in the transition from VHS to DVD, I feel we've lost a lot of cool features. This is why I miss tapes:

1. A VHS tape will never stop right at the point where the detective is about to reveal who murdered the butler in the library just because it has a speck of dust on it.

2. You will never have to skip huge portions of the movie, and try to imagine what happened in them, because your VHS tape has a tiny scratch on it.

3. All playback problems with a VHS tape can be fixed by one of three simple methods. A) Flip open the top and blow on it, B) Fast forward and rewind repeatedly until the picture comes back, C) The tracking button.

4. Tapes don't force you to sit through endless government notices about pirating movies. Partly because pirating a VHS is bloody difficult so those notices don't usually exist, but mainly because you can actually fast forward a tape without getting a OPTION DISABLED notice on your screen.

5. You can stop a tape half way through and come back to the exact point you left off AT ANY TIME IN THE FUTURE. You can even take it out of the machine and watch another 10 videos, and put it back in its box and stick it up on the shelf and not come back to it for another six months – AND IT WILL STILL PLAY FROM WHERE YOU LEFT IT THE FIRST TIME. Magic.

6. If you drop a tape on the footpath, or sand, or gravel, or from a great height (say, off the side of a house) it will probably still play as normal.

7. When you're bored with a VHS, you can rip it open and wrap the tape around stuff like 1980s tinsel.

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on March 27, 2011.


  1. But never forget, HAVE. YOU. GOT. WHAT. YOU. PAID. FOR?

    Also, tracking is the greatest thing ever.

  2. So totally agree! If I knew (a) where to buy a simple player and (b) how to connect it, I think I'd resurrect my boxes of tapes from the garage. We were sold a pup with DVDs.

  3. Funnily enough I just dumped my vcr in the bin on the weekend. got rid of the tapes a couple of weeks ago but couldn't bring myself to get rid of the machine. Feel a sense of lightness

  4. Oh my god! I have that dancing to Yothu Yindi at the museum tape too! Ba ha ha! I think I was about 12 and with my cousins from Adelaide. That is hilarious. But seriously, how good were the special effects!

  5. I think the "dancing to Yothu Yindi" tape thing was the special effects exhibit at the Investigator Science Centre in the mid-90s? If so, we have the same one with my brothers and I dancing to "Love is in the Air" and there's no way we can EVER delete it!

    (And the other special effects included fighting an alien in a far-off land, sitting in a jar of Vegemite in Ernie Dingo's fridge, rock climbing and crawling through a sewer with a giant rat poking its head out of the side. That last one is particularly hilarious as my brother was operating the rat and couldn't work out how to open its mouth. Hence it looks like it's having a stroke or has some weird facial tic. Funniest tape ever!)

  6. A few weeks back, I was trying to tidy up the dumping ground of old technology known as my attic. While digging through this graveyard of old PCs and cables that no longer plug into anything, I found some VHS tapes containing movies I shot years ago. In the spirit of spring cleaning, I decided to put these movies onto DVD. VHS to DVD Transfer

  7. sorry. VHS image quality is superior to bluray because within only it's 240 lines of resolution, just 1 of those lines can produce MILLIONS of colors per frame, whereas 1 line of bluray can ONLY PRODUCE 1920 colors at any given frame. I'm sorry, this proves by default that VHS is superior. There's not much of a limit to how many colors you can display in one line of VHS resolution. Like the CRT televisions we remember so much playing the VHS on, VHS too has no color limit, unlike bluray.

    This means even 4k and 8k bluray cannot compare to the detail and color capability of, well, practically all analogue formats.

    Sorry sony fanbois! Well, i'm a sony fanboi too, but only for betamax and betacam, and hi8 analog camcorders! LOL!