Photo by Dmitry Tsellobenok on Unsplash
As we progress more into the future and further away from older technologies, we sometimes look back and think about how the older technologies shaped the world that we live in. And how those memories about older technologies are still reflected in our hearts. There were good and bad memories, but we still remember VHS tapes no matter what.
It was 2019 and I?ve started into thinking what other hobbies I might get myself into. It?s not that hard to pick a hobby these days (especially considering how the Internet helps us pick favorite hobbies), however, it almost always involves spending some money. And it might be a lot of money!
Does it make sense to use VHS tapes?
Once I was walking along the aisles of Goodwill store and saw a stack of VCR players and my old childhood memories started to chime in:
?Should I buy it?? ? I?ve asked myself.
?Are you crazy, what do you need it for? You don?t even have cassettes anymore? ? the other, more practical side of me repeated. Then I?ve reminded myself of the words that one my favorite YouTube Retro-tech reviewer ? Techmoan once said:
Not everything in life needs to have an explanation
I honestly think that those words can explain so much. Considering that even life has no logical meaning, why should we lock ourselves into thinking that everything needs to make sense and explain it?
VHS tapes: Real reasons to use in 2019
After reading everything above, you are probably thinking that the nostalgia factor is the only reason to have videotapes. However, it?s not exactly the only reasons. Let?s talk about real and logical reasons why owning tapes is not that bad at all.
- It?s cheap. Yes, it?s actually an inexpensive way to catch up on old movies. You don?t need to spend much money on those movies. You just buy a tape and throw it out or donate ? whatever works for you. I was able to find videotapes for 50 cents each. Sometimes you might find it even cheaper.
- Streaming costs more. When you stream ? you pay for the fact that you can see recent movies and shows. However, when you calculate the combined annual cost, it might be well over $200+ for streaming. Add the fact that many movies are not included in the cost and you need to purchase those separately. If you don?t need recent movies and videos and would like to focus on older movies ? VHS is the way to go.
- Analog sound. That might be a surprise to you, but later VHS standard has a Hi-Fi sound quality. It means that you can get a CD sound quality and even some warmness of analog sound. I was especially blown away by sound effects of ?L.A. Confidential? movie ? the first movie that I?ve watched on tape in 2019. All sound effects were quite impressive, with a lot of bass boost. Yes, I think it even beats earlier DVDs, because Hi-Fi sound was not compressed and it even felt more natural (at least to my ear).
- Cassette tape box art. Remember the days when you were actually looking at the cassette tape boxes: reading the plot, looking at the images and reading other information? Well, those are VHS days and the box has enough space to list interesting facts about the movie or the show. Plus add the factor that you hold it in your hand. Let?s face it ? holding a DVD in your hand doesn?t have that much charm.
- You can stop/resume the tape. This is actually both an advantage and disadvantage. But the fact that I cannot just stop the movie and insert another DVD was always the part that I didn?t liked about DVD format. This is not a problem with VHS tapes. You just stop the movie, take the tape out and watch it again from the same spot where you stopped. No need to memorize the position or rely on DVD player for that feature.
- Horror movies and movies that have never made it to digital era. There is a specific movie genre that has a huge fan base and independent studios made many of those movies back in the days ? Horror movies. Also, not every movie (or show) made it to digital era. Especially when we talk about homemade recordings. Those are the treasures, you can only find those on VHS
- You can record content yourself. Those days we mostly consume content and there are fewer ways that movie studios allow us to save content even for our personal enjoyment. Today, mostly everything is controlled by copyright restrictions ? it?s fine and that?s probably how it should be ideally. But if you want to record content from TV ? you can still do it using a digital to analog converter and your VCR player. You just need to have some blank tapes for that.
- Picture quality is not the only factor in a good movie. Those days we are trying to get the best picture quality for every scene and to make the colors look clear and sharp. However, even the best picture quality cannot compensate for the fact that the movie has a bad plot. Picture quality and movie quality should be mixed together. I mention it because if you care about the movie itself, a picture is not the main thing that you will be looking there.
- There are really good movies on VHS out there. I?ve personally watched over 20 movies last month on tapes and most of those movies were awesome. Great plot and actors play really well. Why I?m saying that? Because looking through the stacks of VHS tapes might get you to find some hidden treasures. It?s like a gateway to high-quality movies. There are not-so-good movies on VHS format too, of course. However, most of the surviving tapes that I saw, were great movies.
- It brings family together. Unfortunately, it might or might not work those days. But there is something magical about playing a videotape. It?s probably the feeling that the whole family should come and watch the movie from start to finish. Those days everyone watches movies on their portable devices mostly, so why not try playing VHS tape to get your family back together in one room?
A few movies from my VHS collection
Quality aside, VHS tapes still make sense today. A good plot is what drags you into watching the movie. Picture quality is important and if you have a movie with HD quality it doesn?t mean that you shouldn?t watch it.
Owning a VCR and VHS tapes is like a good trip down the memory lane. You might get yourself into this hobby or not ? but it never hurts to remember how important watching tape was for us back in childhood.
It might actually have defined us in some way!