There’s a website selling “new” VHS+DVD players they’re calling the “RADVCR”.  Depending on your setup, this might be a good option for you, however there’s a few concerns and things you should know before purchasing that I’ll go into below.  The price is $200 and can be purchased here:

Based on the pictures on their website, the RADVCR appears to be a rebrand of older Funai recorders manufactured in 2012.  Funai is an “OEM manufacturer” that made electronic devices for companies like Philips and Magnavox.  Those companies would then add their own logos to sell under their own brands.  It looks like the RADVCR is actually a rebranded Magnavox ZV427MG9;  Most likely Funai has some “new old stock” left over and the team behind RADVCR cut a deal to have their logo placed over the Magnavox logo:

First, I need to warn you of the most important aspect of these devices!!!:  None of these “HDMI VCR’s” will magically make your tapes look “HD”.  Period.  They’re simply taking the noisy, composite video 480i signal from aging tapes and running them through a cheap composite to HDMI scaler similar to this one:

While I often rant about how terrible it is to use those laggy, $10 converters with video games, things like VCR’s are exactly what they were designed for in the first place!  They do a decent job with VHS tapes and if the goal is to just watch some old home movies on your TV, I’m sure either this $200 RADVCR, or a $5 VCR from a thrift store and one of those scalers (or just connecting your VCR to your TV’s composite input) would both be fine.

What makes this RADVCR interesting is the fact that it’s new and the options it offers:  Both the VCR and DVD player can output over HDMI and it also offers, composite, S-Video and component video outputs.  It even has digital audio out, making it an interesting device you can use on both CRT’s and flat-panels, as well as connect it to a stereo.  I often talk about how I prefer to watch any original 480i content on CRT’s over flat-panels and I certainly love how this supports both.

It also has a built-in DVD recorder, which means it could be a decent choice for digitizing old tapes (I’d have to see a sample to fairly comment).  While many of my fellow nerds reading this most likely have a solution to capture 480i into any format they’d like, that’s just not the case with most people.  I imagine your average person with a stack of old home movies would much prefer getting some DVDr’s, pressing play & record on this, then ripping the DVD to their computer after it’s done.  While that “double rip” process might seem convoluted, it’s actually really easy and something even non-nerds would have no problem doing.  As a note, if you’re looking for the best rip possible form a VCR, something like a Domesday Duplicator is expensive and complicated…but an amazing option.

So, what sets this apart from just buying a used combo player on eBay?  Cost.

You can find playback-only versions of combo players for 1/3 the price (including the purchase of a composite to HDMI converter), but versions like this that record to DVD’s sell for insane amounts used.  While there’s not enough demand for a major company to produce a run of 100,000, the high eBay prices prove they’re enough people looking for a simple way to digitize their old home movies and the RADVCR team seems to have a fair solution.  Also, the fact that these are supposedly new, means there’s less chance of worrying about a thrift-store-VCR eating your tapes.

The only real concern I have about this project is the “Our Story” section of their website (archived here).  Here’s what they say:

We literally took our own money and became the only company in the entire world with a factory making a brand new VCR AND DVD COMBO.  We created a special supply chain that allows you to buy your RAD VCR direct from our factories.  That means you now have access to the only brand new VCR AND DVD COMBO in the world.

So, which is the lie?  Are they just using stock pics of a Magnavox ZV427MG9 with their logo photoshopped on and they’re somehow producing a new VCR+DVD combo, from scratch, based on their own funding?  Are these actually new-old-stock like I suspect and they’re just re-branding them?  If that’s the case, why not be honest and brag about saving good hardware from the dumpster bin!?

While I think a $200 solution for a DVD recorder combo unit is a great idea and a fair price, I’m always extremely cautious of a product that starts with a lie.  Buy this at your own risk and hope for the best.

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