"Consumer Reports" Recommends Panasonic PV-V4660 VCR
Dec 13, 2000 (Updated May 6, 2002)
Review by dkozin
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Excellent picture, sound, reliability and ease of use, intuitive remote, 3 speeds, features
Cons:Might have looked better?
The Bottom Line: Panasonic PV-4660 is an excellent choice. It will provide you with the best possible image and sound quality available in VHS standard, reliability and ease of use
The Panasonic PV-4660 is a 4-head Hi-Fi VCR with DynAmorphous Metal heads.
Recommend this product?
Amorphous heads are usually used in professional-grade equipment and provide less noise and better picture quality (“Consumer Reports” magazine gave PV-4660 first place among 4-head Hi-Fi VCRs for the best picture quality and ease of use).
As you can see, PV-4660 continues the tradition of being called the best VCR by “Consumer Reports” – during the previous test, Panasonic PV-9662 was called the best VCR.
I used Panasonic VCRs for more than 15 years and never had any problems. For some time I have heavily used my Panasonic SD-11 for video replication and it survived this kind of abuse easily. Both ease of use and the picture quality always were excellent.
Panasonic VCRs have very high ratings for reliability, according to "Consumer Reports" magazine. Reliability wise they hold top position among other brands. I mean first place – Panasonic and Quasar brands of M a t s u s h i t a Electric hold two top spots in ”Consumer Reports” Magazine reliability survey (Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2000, page 37).
From formal raves let’s move to the features… 4660 has four video heads that allow you to have excellent slow motion and still modes, and be able to use three speeds: SP – standard play (fits 2 hours of recording on a standard T-120 tape), LP – long play (4 hours) and SLP/EP – super long play/extended play (6 hours).
Majority of VCRs on the market do not support the “medium” LP speed, Panasonic VCRs do – a definite plus. You have more flexibility – instead of having to choice between 2 or 6 hours you can also choose the ability to record 4 hours on a T-120 tape.
Of course, as the amount of time you can fit on one tape increases, the image quality decreases, so use SLP for programs that do not require the best possible quality. I use SLP for majority of my recordings, since my cable TV is already noisy by itself. SLP allows me to fit 6 hours of Formula One racing on one T-120 tape (4 races).
As virtually all Hi-Fi stereo VCRs, 4660 produces excellent sound – comparable to CD quality. Hi-Fi stereo VCRs use 2 heads for sound that rotate along with video heads, providing high relative tape speed and the higher the speed, the better the sound.
The auto tracking works as it should, unlike some JVC and SONY VCRs I had experience with. 4 heads help to create stable and crisp still and slow motion modes. The VCR has a V-Lock buttons on the remote to adjust the V-Lock settings and remove unwanted image shaking during the still and slow motion modes.
The FF and rewind are very fast. Because of that, the tape is somewhat slow to stop, but you have to choose something, and I believe, the fast FF/REW is more important.
The VCR has an onscreen “Tape Position Display” that shows you where on the tape you currently are with no need to remove the tape from the VCR. The graph looks nice, unlike JVC’s “B---I---I---I-O-E” “pseudographics”.
The setup is almost completely automatic – the VCR scans for available channels and determines the current time and date automatically. After power outages, it also automatically sets the date and time. 4660 uses radio signals (“Auto Clock Set”) to set the date and time, and here it actually works properly, unlike JVC VCRs where it doesn’t.
4660 has index search capability and also "timestamp" - it records the time and channel when you start recording. When you start playback of this segment, this information appears on the screen for about 3 seconds (if you want to, you can disable this feature).
There are two modes of index search. One allows you specify the number of index "marks" to skip (for example you can skip to the beginning of the previous recording by pressing "Index", "2", "Rewind"). JVC VCRs (HR3600, for example) make you use dedicated buttons on the remote and press them several times.
Unlike some other brands of VCRs (like JVC), 4660 is very easy to use and program. I never use VCR+, but this model has VCR+ Gold, which simplifies things even more. 4660 has a “shuttle” control on the remote to simplify editing.
The front panel does not have buttons to control menus or program VCR, just basic buttons and 3 RCA jacks – composite video in, audio left and audio right channels.
The front Audio/Video inputs are also helpful for recording from camcorders and such.
The back panel has video in and out, audio L in and out, audio R in and out. It also has RF/cable in and out, power cord (of course) and a switch that allows you to choose channel 3 or 4 if you were to use the RF out to send VCR’s signal to TV (not a good idea, the composite video out will provide you with better quality, and is easier to use).
Among two ways to connect the VCR to TV: RF (you connect it to your TV’s RF input and select channel 3 or 4 on the TV) and composite video (Video RCA jack, you connect it to your TV’s composite video input and push tv/vcr button on TV), the latter is better (see above).
If you performed timer recording, you can search for the beginning of the program you recorded using the menu. You choose the program to search for from the menu and the VCR will rewind (or FF) to the beginning of that program (make sure you don't eject the tape before searching this way, it will not search after that since VCR doesn't know what tape you insert; the regular index search will work though).
4660 has illuminated remote control and helpful Movie/Commercial advance, tape position display.
The remote control has intuitive button layout and is easy to operate, unlike some other brands there is no need to point it directly to VCR. The up/down/left/right buttons for menu control and other functions are located in an intuitive manner and are quite large.
The remote’s illuminated buttons are useful when you want to control your devices in the dark. The remote also allows you to control TVs, cable boxes and DVD players of almost any manufacturers (and unlike JVC’s remotes, you don’t have to press two buttons at the same time to do that). However, the functionality is limited – for example, the “menu” button does not work with TVs.
Panasonic PV-4660 is an excellent choice. It will provide you with the best possible image and sound quality available in VHS standard, reliability and ease of use.
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