What is Video?

The Video Home System, better known by its abbreviation VHS is a recording and playing standard for analogue video cassette recorders (VCRs) and was developed by the Victor Company of Japan, Limited (JVC) and launched in September 1976. By the 1990s, VHS became a standard format for consumer recording and viewing, after competing in a fierce format war with Sony Corporation's ‘Betamax’.

With respect to quality, it was marketed as providing pictures superior to VHS's, however the introduction of B-II speed (2-hour mode) to compete with VHS's 2-hour Standard Play mode, reduced Betamax's horizontal resolution to 240 lines.

In the mid-to-late 80s, both formats were extended to Super Betamax and Super VHS. Super Betamax could record up to 290 lines (approximately 380 pixels horizontal) which could make almost identical copies of broadcast or cable television. Super VHS offered up to 420 lines (560 horizontal) that matched the quality of analogue laserdiscs.

Ironically, here’s where the marketers got it wrong though since both of these formats were largely ignored by consumers who seemed content with the fuzzy lo-res pictures provided by standard VHS (~320 pixels horizontal) and the "super" standards remained expensive niche products for a small minority of video enthusiasts.

In this battleground of the formats, one of the first battles was fought over recording time – not quality!. For PAL versions, Betamax could record for 3 hours and 15 minutes, compared to VHS's 3 hours. With Long Play (LP) technology available by the mid-80s, a PAL VHS cassette could run up to 8 or 10 hours, at the expense of picture quality and inter-machine compatibility. The longest PAL Betamax tape was marketed is the L-830, running for 3 hours and 35 minutes.

Video to DVD and Digital Prices and Options