JVC SR-W5U VHS / S-VHS playback VCR

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Analog HDTV 1080i Video Recorder

May 20, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Sound:
  • Ease of Use:
  • Picture Quality:
  • Durability:

Pros:Records analog 1080i HDTV. Great picture quality for analog video. Built like a tank.

Cons:Doesn't record digital audio and tape is too expensive.

The Bottom Line: This VCR is obviously not for everyone. If you want to record analog 1080i HDTV, W-VHS is currently the only format and the SR-W5U is the least expensive W-VHS VCR.

I own this VCR and get very good results recording DirecTV HDTV and OTA HDTV. This VCR can also record and playback VHS H-Fi and SVHS Hi-Fi but I don't use it for anything but W-VHS recording at 1080i resolution which is the only HDTV resolution it can record. It is very simple to use with my Hughes HTL-HD DirecTV HDTV STB. The HTL-HD timer can be set to start HDTV recordings and the IR controller cable that came with the Hughes does a good job since this VCR uses the standard JVC IR code.

This VCR records the analog HDTV video from the component outputs of my HDTV receiver and records the analog stereo audio from the standard RCA audio output. Since this VCR can not record digital audio, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio can not be recorded. Dolby Pro Logic results have been very good with this VCR so the lack of digital audio has not been a big negative. There is no internal tuner and this VCR format was built originally for the professional market and to the best of my knowledge W-VHS is still the only format available in this country that can record analog HDTV at HDTV resolution. With a very good 1080i source the results are really amazing. With a noisy 1080i source, this VCR compounds the noise and the degradation is very noticeable.

When used in conjunction with an HDTV STB that controls JVC VCRs, the recordings are very simple. This VCR doesn't have a timer so it must rely on its remote sensor for on, record and off commands. Since my Hughes HTL-HD is made by LG as is the Sony HD300 and LG3200A, all three of these nearly identical DirecTV HDTV receivers can handle scheduling of timed recordings using the receivers on-screen menus. The VCR can not record 480p or 720p video using the component video inputs. The s-video and composite video inputs can be used for standard definition 480i NTSC video which can be recorded to VHS or SVHS tape.

The VCR appears to be very well built, much better than my JVC HM-DH30000U HDTV D-VHS VCR. The tape transport is smooth and quiet and has a very solid feel and sound. Since media is so expensive, archiving with this format is not practical. It is very difficult if not impossible to find W-VHS tape but the professional video tape for D-9 or Digital S VCRs is the same and easy to find but it is very expensive new. A D-9 DS64 tape provides 1 hour and 55 minutes, a DS104 tape 3 hours and 5 minutes, and a DS124 tape 3 hours and 40 minutes in W-VHS mode. Go to a professional video store to see how much this tape costs new. I have purchased 14 tapes used and I am still looking for more used tape but the 14 tapes are working great for my timeshifting needs. Expect to pay between $40 and $70 per tape new. I purchased the used DS64 for $13 plus shipping and DS104 for $20 plus shipping. That is still too expensive for archiving in my opinion but reasonable for my timeshifting needs.

Overall I am very pleased with this VCR and plan to use it for many years.

Recommend this product? Yes

Amount Paid (US$): 700.

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