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Home Theater Hacks by Brett McLaughlin

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Hack #15. DVHS on a Budget

The high-definition craze is beginning to affect every type of video component, and your old VCR is no exception. DVHS allows you to tape HD material, but it comes at a high price. With a little trickery, you can get all the benefits of DVHS at a fraction of the cost.

Just as TiVo enthusiasts are getting used to having the ability to record all their favorite programs, HD has come along and changed things. A standard TiVo set can't record HD content; you'll have to shell out at least $500 for an HD-recording unit. Additionally, not everyone has TiVo, and many that do don't get their local channels (where a lot of HD content is to be found) except through an antenna.

Amazingly enough, this has caused a renewed interest in VCRs—but VCRs that can record HD content. These HD-VCRs are great, but the tapes are expensive, and they make keeping a lot of HD content—such as an entire season of Stargate SG-1 or Alias—difficult, if not impossible. But a little bit of work and a lot of clever experimentation can get you around this limitation, keep you in HD content, and impress your buddies.

A History Lesson

First, a little bit of history about the Super VHS (SVHS) format, which JVC introduced in 1987. This format was an upgrade to the existing VHS format; SVHS was designed to record at a higher horizontal resolution than VHS. The boost to detail came in the luminance domain (a.k.a. the black and white information), while the color resolution was still unchanged from ...

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