Pros: Relatively simple to operate, versatile, and so far reliable
Cons: Setting the clock automatically
Panasonic PV-V4523S VHS VCR
I bought this VCR one year ago exactly, in February 2004. At the time, my old, faithful Toshiba VCR, bought in 1984, had bitten the dust (it's been repaired since for more money than my new Panasonic cost, but I had some very good reason to do so). Nowadays, practically all VCRs look and feel "junky," and this Panasonic is no exception, so I did not expect much from my purchase. I was happily surprised.
I first consulted some reviews on the Web. It seemed this player was rated "average," as most of its competitors in its price range. Then I went to several stores, looked at what was available, considered the features offered by each machine, their prices, etc, and eventually narrowed my choice on this Panasonic PV-V4523 VHS VCR.
The machine has a good appearance, with smooth lines and contours, and a pleasant, hi-tech silver color.
Setting it up. I hate reading instruction manuals. I am the kind of guy who figures that, since a machine has been put together by other human beings, and since I am part of the same humanity, I should be able to work it out without instructions, just using logic. Eventually, I will discover all that there is to know about a machine
The manual consists of two "accordion-like," folded long pieces of instructions, printed on both sides, one marked "Basic Operations," and the other "Advanced Operations." A quick look at them seemed to indicate that, like most instruction manuals for consumer electronics, they had been written for people whose I.Q. equals their body temperature, by people whose organization skills have somewhat been altered. So, after reading the instruction about how to plug the power cord in the wall, I decided to program the machine using the TV screen, the remote control, and some common sense.
I found that it was relatively easy to do the set up in this fashion, although this trial-and-error method forced me on several occasions to back up, having followed the wrong path. When stuck, I went back to the manual. I had no problem finding the page with the relevant instruction, and in the process, I had bypassed all sort of confusing and irrelevant instructions.
Remote. Simple to use, with logical and versatile controls. The function of each button is clearly indicated and its resulting actions are as advertised.
Clock Setting. I tried the "Automatic" setting, and I'd probably still be waiting for the results, had I not switched to the "Manual" setting. Once set, the clock seems very stable, and adjusts itself automatically to day-light saving times (as I don't remember ever adjusting it again manually, so it must have). When the VCR power is "Off," the time of day is displayed. When it is "On," the time is still displayed, but with a red light in the upper left corner.
The Playback of Tape is straight forward. The forward (FF) or reverse (RR) are fast (one click) and very fast (two clicks), and they ARE fast. You can follow the progress of the viewing material on the TV (at least on mine). The "Auto Rewind" and "Play Auto Eject," are self explanatory. Once the tape ends, it rewinds itself and eject, if programmed to do so.
Slow motion, Frame-by-frame and Pause are available by pressing repeatedly one button. Going from "Pause" to "Play," the tape starts almost instantly, which is a real advantage. The same is true when going from FF or RR to Play.
Recording on a Tape is also very simple and logical. You can record a TV program on one channel while watching another on another channel (Except when using a Cable Box or DSS Receiver).
Copying Your Tapes. Again, this is really straight forward. You hardly need the instruction sheets, except maybe the first time to make sure you have not missed a subtle point. But there are none.
Time Recording I have recorded TV programs on several occasions, while away from the house. The set-up was simple and it worked well.
Special VCR Features. Sorry, I did not bother to test them. To me, they seemed unnecessary for the use I have for this VCR.
On-Screen Displays. This is the real plus. It allows you to set-up, navigate, etc. Its operation is (almost) logical, and you won't have problem getting used to it.
Tracking. Although it is done automatically, there is a button on the remote which allows you to fine tune the tracking, which I found to be necessary in few instances, when viewing home-mad tapes.
I realize that the VCR is being displaced by the DVD in many areas, but there is still a use for it (I still have my AR turn table on which I still play my 33 rpms). I was happily surprise by the Panasonic PV-V4523 VHS VCR, and after one year of moderate use, it is still working as it did on the first day. Although my old Toshiba is still with me, I only use it for copying tapes, and my Panasonic is now my favorite (But please, don't tell my Toshiba, it would hurt its feelings). The outstanding features of this VCR are SIMPLICITY, VERSATILITY, and up to now, RELIABILITY.