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Media Data Storage Sony Technology

Sony To End Sales of Betamax Tapes Next Year 103

AmiMoJo writes: In March 2016 Sony will finally end sales of its Betamax video tapes. The firm revealed on its website that it will also stop shipping the Micro MV cassette, used in video cameras. Sony launched the format in 1975, a year before JVC's rival the VHS cassette — which eventually became the market leader after a long battle between the two brands and their fans. Although many felt Betamax was the superior format, most cite the longer recording length of VHS tapes — three hours versus one — and the cheaper manufacturing costs for VHS machines as the main factors as to why VHS eventually won out. When my dad stops buying VHS tapes in bulk, maybe that market will finally wither away, too.
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Sony To End Sales of Betamax Tapes Next Year

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  • Did someone finally clue them in?
    • Re:Blinders Much (Score:5, Informative)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:06PM (#50901301)
      "Betamax" probably encompasses more than simply the end-consumer tape. "SuperBeta" is a common commercial standard, much in the same way that "SuperVHS" was a common commercial standard, used by TV news and local-station production for decent quality for quick-turnaround broadcasting. It was essentially broadcast quality in an era of NTSC televisions, the tapes were durable and cheap, and just about all of the field cameras used for on-the-spot reporting supported them. Hell, even the vans they would use for remotes had their own mini editing studio with three or five decks, most for playback, one for recording to edit the clips together.

      For this application the tapes were fine. When you're going to use less than five minutes of footage the tape length is not terribly critical, the smaller-than-VHS and smaller-than-three-quarter form factor meant that less camera by volume was necessary, and the quality was more than adequate at the time. I expect this kind of setup is still used, even if it is being replaced by higher def cameras and digital storage, that kind of changeout is expensive and again, for local news or local time-filler programming isn't really all that necessary.

      The end of sale of the tapes probably comes as the market has finally shifted over, there are now more solid-state video cameras than tape video cameras, and the market finally doesn't want tapes in enough quantity to justify production.
      • Re:Blinders Much (Score:4, Interesting)

        by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:30PM (#50901517)

        Why don't we have a plug-in digital replacement for VHS/Beta tapes? With modern tech and materials, it wouldn't be that hard to devise a digital interface to the old helical-scan mechanism in the standard cassette formats. Not much of a market, for sure, but if they're still making tapes, apparently somebody is still using them. Might make a good kickstarter project for someone...

        Another in the same vein... why can't I get a digital-imaging back for my old 35mm Nikon cameras? Seems like I should be able to get something like that for a few hundred bucks in today's economy.

        • The digital back is the camera. All you need to do is attach your lens.

          • True enough, but maybe I don't want to just toss all my old camera bodies. I reckon that if somebody came up with a digital replacement back for a few standard brands, they could make a killing off of old geezers like me.

            • True enough, but maybe I don't want to just toss all my old camera bodies. I reckon that if somebody came up with a digital replacement back for a few standard brands, they could make a killing off of old geezers like me.

              Digital backs for still cameras have been around for medium and large format film cameras for twenty years or so. I don't think there were any popular / successful for 35mm (still) film cameras.

              I don't know much about cinematic cameras, but I believe companies like Panavision have adapted their own models of cameras to include digital backs retrofits.

            • by Holi ( 250190 )
              Like the Hasselblad digital back?
              http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/... [bhphotovideo.com]
            • Re:Blinders Much (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @01:27PM (#50902155) Homepage

              Your old Nikon back is worth pennies. The lenses, perhaps quite a bit more.

              People have tried to work this out for years and it just doesn't fly. A digital camera is a much different beast than a film unit. The ergonomics and data displays for a digital camera just encompass much more than the film cannister. Really, keep your old F4 on the mantle, buy a Nikon 3200 - the very bottom of the DSLR line and find it stomps the image quality and handling of any film camera ever made.* Nostalgia is just that.

              * If you want to use your old lens, you're going to have to pony up to a D800 or so, but now we're getting technical.

              • Your old Nikon back is worth pennies.

                Maybe not pennies, but certainly a small fraction of what you paid.

                Not so long ago I realized my Nikon F75 body would pretty much never get used again, since I now have a D90 and don't use 35mm film any more.

                I can't remember what the camera store gave me for it, but I'm sure it was under $50, possibly closer to $25.

                My 50mm lens? Well, slapped on a digital camera it works out nicely as the equivalent of an 80mm portrait lens.

                The lenses still hold their value, because goo

                • Depending on what you use the lens for, that may be ok.

                  The mounting and physics of the lens is the same (give or take focal length for the lens), it still works, you just lose the ability of the camera to control it.

                  But it should actually still work ... it's still a lens. I'd be surprised if you couldn't use a 40 year old lens on a modern Nikon.

                  That's why a lot of us buy Nikon - because of the lenses

                  They do work - some of the old ones need a small modification but a really small one indeed.

                  Some of the old Nikon lenses were tremendous as well. The old 55mm Micro Nikkor f3.5 was a simply magnificent lens, had a seriously flat field as well. So I'm happy to use it on my DSLR. Focus is manual of course.

                  Unless a person is working with alternative processes or with 4 by 5 and above formats, there's really no reason to use film any more. I love the

                  • Cell phone cameras just show that you can have lots of Pixels, and the photos can still suck. People will have to argue with the laws of physics about that one.

                    What really surprises me is that I've managed some really decent photos with my phone with some work and creativity. The camera couldn't have less going for it in terms of optics, sensor size, etc., and I find it amazing that I can produce anything even approaching decent with it. A real camera is it not, but still, those things have come a very long way.

                    • What really surprises me is that I've managed some really decent photos with my phone with some work and creativity. The camera couldn't have less going for it in terms of optics, sensor size, etc., and I find it amazing that I can produce anything even approaching decent with it. A real camera is it not, but still, those things have come a very long way.

                      Very good point. Creativity is the factor.

                      Back in school, my Photography prof used to make incredible images with a Diana Camera, which ranks up there with the worst cameras ever made. plastic lenses, light leaks. Horrible thing. It managed to put almost every abberation into one device.

                      I should have put in my post about how a good photographer can make good photos with just about anything.

                      The smartphones today feature a decent tonal range, certainly a high MP value. But those lenses! That tiny sensor

              • Nostalgia is just that.

                Nostalgia is a huge market. (Surely you've seen Pawn Stars? American Pickers?) A few years ago, one of my employees, a 20-year-old, bought a Nikon FM2. I said, "What are you doing with a film camera in this day and age?" She just wanted to "go retro" and learn photography the old fashioned way.

                People spend money for lots of weird reasons...

                • by TWX ( 665546 )
                  I think it's good for photography students to learn film, because film is less forgiving and they're actually learning how exposure time and the light-gathering characteristics of the lens work. But, once the basic principles are fully understood there's little reason to remain on film. There certainly isn't a reason to manually develop one's own film anymore even if one still develops one's own prints, even for students, unless they're really want to be anachronistic.
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by Anonymous Coward

                With all fairness, please don't comment on things you don't understand.

                You are 100% correct that if someone wants to replace the film part of their camera with a "digital" format than the solution is the ditch the old body and just use the lenses on a digital equivalent. The digital sensor IS for lack of a better analogy, the "film" for a digital camera.

                However, the line "the very bottom of the DSLR line and find it stomps the image quality and handling of any film camera ever made" is ludicrous.

                It's obvio

            • Multiple such things have been released for the 35mm formats over the years. They all faded into obscurity. Film is a few microns thick. The digital backs all had several things in common: they were bulky, they made serious cuts in order to make it compatible with 35mm film cameras and thus were utterly crap, and ultimately the sensor is only a tiny fraction of the improvements that have happened in cameras over the years.

              Instead of hoping that maybe one day your 30 year old technology will be magic due to

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          Because such a device would probably cost even more than a device that just plugged directly into the TV, making it pointless. Not to mention that the video quality would be, well, VHS quality.

          • You seem to be conflating my two queries. I don't wan't VHS-quality video, I want 35mm film-quality stills from the lenses and bodies currently residing in my basement. As others have noted, there have been medium- and large-format image sensors available for decades, but they cost many thousands of dollars. I ought to be able to get a 35mm "consumer" version for a few hundred bucks. As long as it had 1080p resolution or better, I would buy it. And I'm sure there are a lot of other old-timers like me who wo

            • As others have said, pretty much all of the value of digital camera is in the back. The front/top basically is for mounting the lens, but also contains some useful features like the shutter button.

              Let's think how a digital back is going to interface with the film mechanics: no doubt some kind of mechanism could detect the shutter press and/or film winding, but it all sounds a bit clunky and you've still to to wind the 'film' to cock the shutter. Digital cameras just do this and I doubt a 35mm digital back c

            • Re:Blinders Much (Score:4, Informative)

              by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @01:59PM (#50902493) Homepage

              I want 35mm film-quality stills from the lenses and bodies currently residing in my basement

              Depending on how old your gear is, buy a DSLR of the same make and use your lenses. Back in the day the camera body was just there to hold the film and the lens, you won't be able to reuse that.

              My Nikon DSLR can happily use lenses I had on my film SLR. Not all lenses [nikonusa.com] will work. Heck, some models should cover lenses going back to 1959 [kenrockwell.com]. I assume other companies have done similar.

              I ought to be able to get a 35mm "consumer" version for a few hundred bucks. As long as it had 1080p resolution or better

              I think a Nikon D3200 is currently under around $400 ... and it's a freakin' 24 megapixel camera.

              The main thing you need to remember is the focal length changes ... a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera is an objective lens which sees the world like you do. The same 50mm lens on a DSLR ends up being a moderate telephoto, and is equivalent to an 80mm lens.

              You may find you can still get a camera body which has all the modern features, but still works with your lenses that you spent a small fortune on.

              In fact, depending on the specific brand and lenses, there's a really good chance of it.

              • Re:Blinders Much (Score:5, Informative)

                by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @02:13PM (#50902657)

                The main thing you need to remember is the focal length changes ... a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera is an objective lens which sees the world like you do. The same 50mm lens on a DSLR ends up being a moderate telephoto, and is equivalent to an 80mm lens.

                That only applies if you have a crop sensor. Most professional DSLRs now are full frame.

            • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

              I'm referring to your comment about a plug-in digital replacement for VHS tapes, not your comment about cameras. A plug-in VHS device would be subject to most of the same limitations as real VHS tapes, which is to say, the very best you could hope for is composite quality video, and in reality you'd get substantially less. The cost of such an interface, however, would be far more than the cost of just putting a composite (and/or HDMI) interface on the device to begin with. This sort of thing might make sens

            • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

              Consumer stuff is inexpensive because of economies of scale. The market for digital backs for old cameras is bound to be pretty small, so those economies of scale will not be achieved, and the cost will be high.

        • by jpapon ( 1877296 )

          Another in the same vein... why can't I get a digital-imaging back for my old 35mm Nikon cameras?

          Isn't that what a DSLR body is? Most of the cost of a modern camera is in the sensor, DSP chip, screen, and software. The components you would be reusing from your old 35mm body (mirrors, dials, viewfinder, housing itself) are all comparatively cheap. It doesn't make much sense to spend time designing hardware to reuse them.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          There were some digital replacement backs for film cameras, but when it comes down to it that means spending a fairly large amount of money on a used, possibly worn camera. For professionals, they're probably going to want the newer camera body so long as it takes their existing inventory of lenses, because they wear-out cameras through use anyway. That leaves the replacement-back for consumers, and there's probably not enough demand.

          If I understand correctly, it's a lot more common on medium-format ca
          • by Holi ( 250190 )
            Hasselblad medium format cameras have a wide selection of digital backs.
            • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

              Last time I enquired, a digital back for my RB67 was $14K. Sigh. I guess I'll stick with film for now.

          • I think only the top of the line "F" Nikons had removable backs anyway. Plus how do you fit in wiring and batteries to make it all work without making it super bulky?

        • Why don't we have a plug-in digital replacement for VHS/Beta tapes?

          To what purpose? So we can display low rez old TV signals? It's an obsolete technology. Time to let it die. Transfer the contents to digital media and throw the old unit out. Keeping old VCR units around is a waste of resources.

          why can't I get a digital-imaging back for my old 35mm Nikon cameras?

          Because it doesn't work well. It's been tried. There is more to it than putting a digital sensor into the body. The interface isn't the same and retrofitting is rarely a good idea. Buy a new camera body and use the lenses on it. Keep your old camera body in case you ever de

        • What would be the point of that?

          If someone is using video tape it most likely is because the tape is "good enough" - the quality is good enough, they already have the VTR etc. The hybrid you propose would be expensive, then why not just replace the VTR with a digital recorder and be done with it? Well, maybe if the VTR is good enough, why spend money on replacing it?

          I myself still use VHS and S-VHS, though not as much as I used a couple of years ago. I now mostly record TV shows to a server (ripping an IPTV

        • by Trogre ( 513942 )

          That reminds me of the cassette adapters that you used to see, that looked like a cassette tape with a headphone cable coming out of it. With one of those you could play your DiscMan or other audio player through your tape-only car stereo!

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            I bought one of those just a couple of years back, Was cheap, perhaps $5, and actually with it, my MP3 player sounded much better then any tape. Now I have a cheap CD player that also takes a USB stick with MP3s on it, and it sounds terrible, worse then the FM though CDs sound pretty good.

      • The format used in broadcast was called Betacam (replaced by Betacam SP, Digibeta, Betacam SX and HDCAM in the same physical format, all incompatible with Betamax), which had a wider signal bandwidth than either VHS or Betamax and higher vertical resolution. S-VHS and Super Betamax were prosumer formats introduced later, and never widely used in broadcasting except for community/public access television.

        • TWX: "Betamax" probably encompasses more than simply the end-consumer tape. "SuperBeta" is a common commercial standard...

          Farmer Tim: The format used in broadcast was called Betacam (replaced by Betacam SP, Digibeta, Betacam SX and HDCAM in the same physical format, all incompatible with Betamax)

          Indeed... came here to say this, want to say it again in bold text as people keep getting it wrong anyway.

          *** REGULAR BETAMAX WAS *NEVER* WIDELY USED AS A PROFESSIONAL FORMAT. YOU'RE THINKING OF "BETACAM", A SEPARATE FORMAT WHOSE ORIGINAL VERSIONS USED THE SAME CASSETTE AND TAPE DESIGN, BUT HAD AN ENTIRELY INCOMPATIBLE AND MUCH HIGHER QUALITY RECORDING FORMAT! (And ran the tape at a much higher speed) ***

          Ahem... thank you. :-)

          Anyway, minor credit to the GP for at least not *quite* repeating this fall

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:00PM (#50901249)

    betamax won in the commercial setting.

    VHS was better in homes.

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      Since Betacam used the same tapes (with a different format), this apparently signals the end of Betacam as well.
      • by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @01:10PM (#50901957) Journal

        Since Betacam used the same tapes (with a different format), this apparently signals the end of Betacam as well.

        The entire industry has moved over to CompactFlash for the most part. Some cameras even have hot swapable arrays so a camera crew doesn't miss a second of material. Once one drive is full, the system automatically switches to the next drive and you can swap out the full drive while still recording.

        Source: my buddy works in TV.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      VHS was invented by Sony, but they sold it to JVC preferring the higher spec Betamax - which did not succeed anywhere other than recording studios. Sony's fixation over the length of tapes shot themselves in the foot, the public wanted to record full films off TV, and spoke with their wallets.

  • >> When my dad stops buying VHS tapes in bulk

    This is probably BS, but I'll bite anyway. Why would "your dad" purchase VHS tapes "in bulk" - is he taping every episode of his favorite shows? Is there a "pirating for seniors" effort we could start to help people like this?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This [startpage.com] will help "his dad" get started.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:21PM (#50901463) Homepage

      Modern VHS tapes are complete crap, like modern floppy disks. Built to extremely low standards because hardly anyone uses them and they sell for ridiculously low prices. Many of them are old stock that have been sitting on a shelf for decades, or even worse in a shop window getting temperature cycled by the sun.

      So the only option is to buy in bulk, throw away the duds and record to them only once.

      Why wouldn't you just switch to recording on DVD/flash drive? It's mostly people with old equipment that they don't want to give up. Maybe they have a big VHS library, maybe they have an old computer that doesn't have USB (Amiga/Atari/early Apple etc). Having said that, there was some youngish bloke on the TV complaining when they stopped selling VCRs at major retailers, because analogue noise isn't as bad as digital noise etc, so there are actually some luddites out there too.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2015 @12:30PM (#50901523)

        I seem to remember a story from a local group that's involved in documenting the local media scene. They had just recently inherited a *shipping container* full of VHS tapes that a recently dead woman had saved up. She had been recording all the local news programs. Every day. For decades. Never overwrote the tapes.

        The documenters are thrilled, but what a daunting digitizing project.

      • Why wouldn't you just switch to recording on DVD/flash drive?

        Because not all reviews of DVD/flash drive recorders specify compatibility with video sources, and I don't have the money to buy one of each just to review it the way one Google engineer is doing with USB C cables [arstechnica.com].

        Consumer recorders can record an NTSC signal with standard timing (227.5 color burst cycles per line by 262.5 lines per field) fine. But a lot of classic video game consoles output a nonstandard 240p video signal for memory cost reasons. The last flash recorder I tried (an Aiptek) recorded 480i TV

      • Modern VHS tapes are complete crap, like modern floppy disks. [,,,] (Emphasis added)

        Huh? I thought both floppy discs and their drives have been out of production for some time now. I thought retro-computing types have been hording their magentic media for the purists who don't use adapters to solid-state storage (CF, SD card, etc.) for some time now. I don't think you can easily find [USB] floppy drives in stock at online computer retailers any more, except for refurbished units on eBay.

        • Huh? I thought both floppy discs and their drives have been out of production for some time now.

          Probably not very common, but a little googling got me here [floppydisk.com] pretty fast.

          I don't think you can easily find [USB] floppy drives in stock at online computer retailers any more

          Again, probably not very common, but not impossible [floppydisk.com].

          Of course, the USB can probably cache more than the floppy can hold, and can definitely move it around a lot faster.

          My brain hurts, this is like a laser-guided carrier pigeon. You could tran

      • Modern VHS tapes are complete crap, like modern floppy disks.

        They always were complete crap. We just didn't have anything better back when they were ubiquitous. Even the best VHS tapes were really not terribly good products. Usable but never good.

        Built to extremely low standards because hardly anyone uses them and they sell for ridiculously low prices.

        Things that hardly anyone uses get sold for higher prices. The only reason they can sell them relatively cheaply is because the equipment to make the tapes has been fully depreciated for a very long time now.

        Why wouldn't you just switch to recording on DVD/flash drive?

        Because that requires learning something new. Lots of people absolutely HATE learning anything new. Several of m

      • Why wouldn't you just switch to recording on DVD/flash drive?

        DVD cannot be rewound and recorded over to fix the "oh crap" moment of pressing the button too early. Also, I do not know what the latency between "pressing the button" and "recording" is for a DVD recorded. For a VHS recorded (the ones I have) it's about one second (or 3 seconds for the pro VCR I use now - to allow for seamless joining).

        Also, recorded DVDs do not last as long as VHS tapes.

        Flash or hard drive is better, however, are there any recorders that record the video and not add DRM to it, so I can p

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Oh, and there is one other reason to buy VHS tapes. The boxes are the perfect size for storing 3.5" hard drives. They fit in between the stand-offs that hold the VHS tapes perfectly. I know a few people who store offline drives that way.

  • I thought both formats died long ago. The question is, should we stock-pile those things? Will they easily sell on eBay at much higher prices in 2017?

    Fight for your bitcoins! [coinbrawl.com]

    • You can stock pile all you want, but any flexible magnetic media is going to go bad over time so I'd suggest you plan to unload your stock before 5 years is up.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        We have VHS tapes that still work 20+ years later.

        While I don't dispute the potential for degradation, I suspect people are comparing the quality at the time of recording with the quality of modern recordings, and claiming degradation when in fact the differences are more attributable to the initial quality.
        • by qubezz ( 520511 )
          Video tapes are not guaranteed to work, you are lucky if you've never had a problem transferring an important and personal VHS tape. Google "sticky shed". I've had digitizing challenges where the VCR head would be peeling off and spraying oxide all over the insides until the head wrapped up and ate the tape. Even "baking"/dehumidifying the tapes, like has been documented for reel-to-reel tapes, was not much of an improvement.
      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Over time, yes. In my lifetime, doubtful. I still have my Toshiba Beta from 1983, along with a nice collection that works just fine, thank you very much.

    • I thought both formats died long ago. The question is, should we stock-pile those things? Will they easily sell on eBay at much higher prices in 2017?

      No.

      Wait, that's not right.

      Fuck No.

      Let's not be stupid and keep this tech alive for the sake of Steampunk Pi projects or other abhorrently useless shit. IoT initiatives will soon force enough of that crap upon us anyway.

  • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

    I'm curious how many of you still have Beta machines? Mine is next to my Eight Track player...no joke.

    • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
      I still have my mom's first ever VCR, a Beta unit from waaay back with a wired remote and ~$900 price tag. No clue if it works, but I have a few tapes for it.

      My wife's stepmom is forever trying to give us VHS apes from the thrift market, for our daughter to watch. My daughter has Netflix and a Kindle - there is no way she'd put up with linear program viewing now...
    • My dad has 2 of themfrom his repair shop like 30 years ago.
      I last used one of the players 6 years ago to watch a really really old movie to compare it to the full HD version that's now available. To my surpires it attracted quite an audience.
    • by hparker ( 41819 )

      Still have a Hi-8 Betamax camera that we use as a player and about a few dozen cassettes of videos, mostly of our baby, plus a shelf of VHS cassettes and a VHS recorder. That baby is almost 20 now.
      We plug the camera into our top rated (in 1995) 32" Sony Trinitron TV, which still works great. We will get one of those new-fangled HD flat screens one of these days, I suppose. :)

      By the way, can anyone recommend a Hi-8 digitizing service?

  • There were many "pro" and prosumer variants of Betamax. For example, in the late 80's we shot the PBS TV show "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" on Betacam SP, which was a 1/2 tape format that had the quality of shooting on 1" tape.

    Betacam was a really, really good format. I'd be sad to see that go, but I guess everything is digital these days and HD, whereas Betacam was analog and NTSC.

    • Analog Betacam was replaced by Digibeta, Betacam SX, IMX and HDCAM long ago; HDCAM SR is still widely used in broadcasting, so tapes for professional units will be available for some time yet. And the reason Betacam SP looked good is because it had nearly twice the bandwidth of Betamax (and ran at a higher tape speed).

    • My assumption is they are talking about Betacam. I can't imagine they would be producing tapes for Betamax for all these years, except for the fact you can use a Betacam tape in a Betamax recorder. My guess is that the Pro market must have moved over to other formats and there just isn't enough volume left to justify continuing to produce the tapes.

      Though my understanding is that other companies still make the tapes so new tapes will still be available for the time being.

  • Was Porn. The porn industry chose VHS and beta died. Or at least that's what I heard. Please do not provide authoritative sources to disprove me. This is what I want to believe. Thanks!!

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      That's a myth. I and every one of my friends it was simple. The sony units were a lot more expensive. The video quality didn't look any different. Especially since we're recording off air anyhow. It was good enough. Very quickly, it seemed that only one of my friends had a beta. About 6 months later he bought a vhs so he could join the rest of the world. I still have my late 1970s vhs unit. It never did break.

      It was bad marketing that did them in.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    > Although many felt Betamax was the superior format, most cite the longer recording length of VHS tapes — three hours versus one — and the cheaper manufacturing costs for VHS machines as the main factors as to why VHS eventually won out.

    It's simpler than that: Betamax licence forbids adult content publishing, while VHS couldn't care less. People choose to watch combining of gene lines on app. 180-200 lines of resolution, rather than a year with a panda family NatGeo special on 300 scan lines

    • > Although many felt Betamax was the superior format, most cite the longer recording length of VHS tapes — three hours versus one — and the cheaper manufacturing costs for VHS machines as the main factors as to why VHS eventually won out.

      It's simpler than that: Betamax licence forbids adult content publishing, while VHS couldn't care less. People choose to watch combining of gene lines on app. 180-200 lines of resolution, rather than a year with a panda family NatGeo special on 300 scan lines.

      Well, as a former VCR repair tech, I can tell you why we thought VHS beat BetaMax: the VHS machines were much easier to repair.

      During lace-up, a VHS machine drew the tape out in a "M" shape, whereas the BetaMax drew the tape out and around the head unit in a "C" format. So a machine failure in VHS left the tape relatively easy to extract. With the tape wrapped around the drum in the BetaMax: it was a pain. From a repair standpoint, changing a VHS head was a matter of unsoldering 4 wires, pull the head of

      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

        Well, as a former VCR repair tech, I can tell you why we thought VHS beat BetaMax: the VHS machines were much easier to repair.

        A friend who worked at VMI in Sunnyvale back in the days said same thing. He worked on reel to reel, and interacted with other guys who worked on VHS and Beta. To align the beta heads, the machine had to be shipped to Japan as it was that precise.

        I also heard there is a documentary about the guys who developed VHS, a Japanese show where they portray these as a drama. I'd love to see it as another friend while he was in Japan he watched this docudrama. These guys went on for days, weeks, months with very l

  • Yahoo News will carry a Polaroid shot of it.

  • "...many felt Betamax was the superior format..." No. Beta was demonstrably the superior format. VHS didn't become the dominant format because of longer recording times, that was just salesmen's selling point to counter the quality argument, it became dominant because there were a lot of companies spending a lot more on promotion, and I don't mean just advertising. A lot of salesmen could make more by selling VHS decks, so naturally they pushed them over Beta. Also, Sony was nastier about licensing. JVC/Mat
  • From... uh... 13 years ago... ?
    Sony Kills Betamax [slashdot.org]
  • I see no way to comment on that article..

    I don't know where they got that 3 hour time from. (Maybe much later T180 tapes?) T160 were the only ones longer than T120 that seemed to get down into the "cheap" range. (I have TONS of old VHS tapes, probably all degraded by now.)

    I wish re-recordable Blurays had gotten much cheaper. Even though I just instead download (non-copy-protected) media from my Tivo to a hard drive, sometimes it's easier to use removable media.

  • I doubt this is the end of Betamax in general. Most TV studios and broadcasters use Betacam and DigiBeta as medium. It provides incredible quality at a rather low price and incremental addition cost compared to hard disk based libraries. Especially DigiBeta is so robust you can swipe sandpaper over the tape and wrinkle it all up, you may end up with a few blocks in the image if that. As far as consumer grade is concerned, VHS was/is the worst of them all. Betamax was better, but the best was Video2000. Far

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