With streaming media taking over everything, DVDs like VHS have fallen out of mainstream use. Hollywood studios stopped releasing movies on tapes in 2006. However, the charm of the VHS tape is still very much alive, even though many people have thrown theirs away.
So if you’ve saved your old tapes but don’t have or want an old VCR player, in this article, we’ll tell you about several options for watching those old memories without breaking out into a sweat trying to find a way.
What To Be Aware Of
Right at the beginning, we will explain a few essential things to make everything as straightforward as possible.
First off, you need to know that VHS tapes are subject to:
- Vinegar syndrome in acetate tapes (explained below)
- Extreme temperatures
- Direct sunlight
All problems with VHS tapes mentioned above are mainly caused by improper storage.
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How to Properly Store VHS Tapes:
- Store your VHS tapes and cassettes away from magnets, as even a weak magnet can cause data loss over time. Many electronics contain them, so don’t place those right next to you or near high-voltage lines, which create a Magnetic Field Enclosure (MFE).
- If you want to keep your old movies and home video in top condition, they must be stored correctly. One of the worst things a person can do is stack up boxes with tapes, which cause damage over time. The weight of a large stack can put too much pressure on the bottom items and cause warping, cracking, or other damage. The best way is to arrange them in rows like books without crowding them too much.
- Make sure to keep VHS tapes in their boxes.
- Check your VHS collection over time to ensure everything is right.
Vinegar Syndrome is very common in video tapes, old films, and audio tapes. The breakdown of the acetate layer, which leads to a vinegar smell from acetic acid-formers in this type of material, can cause problems such as shrinking or becoming brittle after prolonged exposure. Putting video tape in this condition in a VCR player may permanently destroy the tape or even damage the VCR player.
Send Your VHS Tapes to a Professional Digitization Service – The Simplest and Most Secure Solution
The easiest way to watch VHS tapes without a VCR is to convert them to digital via digitizing services. This is also the safest solution for your media because, with this method, you can create as many copies as you want.
In addition, the service will inspect, repair if needed, transfer to digital and enhance your media quality for a very affordable price. One such service is iMemories, a reliable company with over 15 years of professional experience, and it’s one of the more popular choices among customers.
Benefits of Professional Digitizing Services
First off, most digitizing services make the process of ordering and mailing media to the facility straightforward while also taking the security of media in mind by providing you with a shipping kit.
iMemories offers a SafeShip Kit, which is a crush-proof box that includes:
- Welcome guide
- FedEx pre-paid label
- Packaging cushions
- Waterproof bags
- Customer card
Professional Service and Equipment
These companies usually have years of experience, skilled staff, and high-quality equipment used for digitizing your media. These conditions decide the quality of your digitized media. Also, you should know that some services send your data to other facilities to transfer your media if they don’t have the required equipment. This is not the case with iMemories, as they do everything.
You Can Choose Your Digital Storage
Professional services allow you to choose a digital copy to which your media will be transferred. You can choose from DVD, USB, or cloud. With iMemories, you get even more options which are:
- FREE digital download with each order
- Portable hard drive 1TB
- iMemories cloud
Media Enhancements and Repairs
Some of the enhancements you may expect from services are:
- Image Restoration
- Color and color adjustments
- HDR merge
Note: You may not get these options with all services, and you may be subject to additional charges for those that do.
Repairs that services do are:
- Replace broken videotape case
- Repairing ribbon damage on videotapes
- Splice broken videotapes and films without losing footage
Interestingly, iMemories offers free media enhancement and broken film repair or splice without losing any footage.
Saves Time and Money
If you decide to digitize your media by yourself, then be prepared to spend a lot of time and money on the required equipment.
iMemories has the fastest turnaround time, 2 to 3 weeks, but it might be longer depending on the type and amount of media. You can go with your everyday life and be sure that your media is getting the best possible service.
When it comes to price, you can find services at reasonable prices. In addition, your media will get enhancements and repairs, which you don’t get with DIY.
iMemories, for example, charges per piece, and current prices are:
- $14.99 per videotape
- $14.99 per 50 ft. of film
- $0.49 per photo, slide, and negative
Since iMemories offer a free digital download of digitized media, you don’t need to purchase an additional digital copy.
Buy or Borrow VCR Player
The most authentic way to enjoy your old videos is with a VCR/CRT combo. Why spend money on new technology when the old machine just sits? If you know someone with a working VCR, ask them if they want to get rid of their outdated device or if they would mind lending it to you. If not, you could offer to purchase the VCR from someone who doesn’t want it.
Even though a VCR may say it is working, don’t trust it. Always ensure the recording device can playback before using and test with an old tape in case anything goes wrong.
You won’t know whether a VCR player works or doesn’t until you test it.
If you find a good deal on a used VCR, be cautious because you don’t know in which state the player is. We recommend testing any used VCR player following these few steps:
- Insert a tape that you won’t mind if it gets destroyed.
- If the VCR starts playing, watch it to the end to ensure that the VCR player works properly and doesn’t damage the footage.
- Also important to check is the VCR auto-stop mechanism, which detects and automatically shuts the playing mechanism when the tape ends. Otherwise, if the mechanism doesn’t work, your tape will get ripped off.
Following the above steps will ensure you don’t destroy any videotapes if the VCR player is defective.
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Use a Full Size VHS Video Camera/Camcorder
The VHS Video Camera is another device that allows you to watch VHS tapes if you don’t have a VCR. You can use it as a video recorder and a VCR player, and you need to select the switch between these options. Then, you need to connect through the composite (RCA) ports of a video camera and your TV to be able to view the footage.
Note: To ensure the camera is working condition, follow the same steps we mentioned for the VCR player.