Sunday, March 15, 2009


VHS-C is the compact VHS format introduced in 1982[1] and used primarily for consumer-grade compact camcorders. The format is based on the same videotape as is used in VHS, and can be played back in a standard VHS VCR with an adapter. Though quite inexpensive, the format is largely obsolete even as a consumer standard and has been replaced in the marketplace by digital video formats, which have smaller form factors.

A size comparison between the original VHS format, VHS-C, and the more recent MiniDV.

The magnetic tape on VHS-C cassettes is wound on one main spool and used a sort of a gear wheel which moves the tape forward. It can also be moved by hand and so is the spool. This development hampered the sales of the Betamax system somewhat, because the Betamax cassette geometry prevented a similar development.

Bottom and top view of VHS-C, compact video cassette

VHS-C Cassette Adapters

VHS-C was one of the pioneering formats of the compact camcorder market, and was released to compete with Video8. VHS-C was larger than Video8, but was compatible with VHS tapedecks, making the choice between the two non-obvious, and splitting the market; VHS-C also eventually crowded full-sized VHS camcorders out of the market. A higher quality version of VHS-C was released, based on S-VHS, known as S-VHS-C, that competed against Hi8, the higher quality version of Video8. The arrival on the market of inexpensive S-VHS-C camcorders led to the inclusion on many modern VCRs of a feature known as SQPB, or SuperVHS Quasi-PlayBack, but did not make a significant impact on the market as the arrival of MiniDV as a consumer standard made low-cost, digital, near-broadcast-quality video widely available to consumers, and rendered analog camcorders largely obsolete.

Compared with Video8, VHS-C had identical video quality but a shorter run time, 120 versus 40 minutes at SP speed, 240 versus 120 for longer-running modes. Although at one time JVC marketed a 45-minute and a 60-minute SP Mode tape with the Extra High Grade formulation (135 minutes, and 180 minutes in EP/SLP Mode). Hi8 and S-VHS-C both have laserdisc quality pictures, but media is far less readily available than the cameras themselves, and thus most S-VHS-C units support S-VHS ET, which allows recording of an S-VHS signal on high-grade VHS tape.

Although Video8 acquired a digital variant, Digital8, it is extremely unlikely that D-VHS will ever be adapted to a compact format, as the consumer camcorder industry (particularly VHS's inventor and main proponent, JVC) has largely standardized on small-format MiniDV or mini-DVD, or the new hard drive based recorders. Nevertheless, a few VHS-C and S-VHS-C camcorders are still available from JVC at extremely low prices (~US$200), and the media remains widely-available at relatively low cost.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Following page by the inventors of VHS gives the release date of VHS-C as 1982 and includes details of first VHS-C recorder(the HR-C3): "1982 VHS-C". Victor Company of Japan Ltd. (JVC). "Copyright 2001-2003". Retrieved on 2007-08-06. "HR-C3 The first model of portable VCR to use VHS-C cassette" 

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