Summary

Our Score

7/10

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In the same way that vinyl lives on in the age of MP3 downloading and CDs, VHS tape recorders are still around despite DVD and hard-disk being today's preferred recording technologies. VCRs continue to crop up in product ranges every year, despite the death knell being sounded years ago.

It's reminiscent of Rocky Balboa, the ageing crowd favourite who, after winning so many battles in the past, keeps coming back from retirement for one last shot at glory against younger, more talented opponents.

The key reason why manufacturers haven't thrown in the towel is that most people still have VHS tapes lying around containing stuff that they can't find on DVD, or precious memories that need to be transferred onto disc before the plug is finally pulled on the format.


We mention this not only for a whimsical trip down memory lane but also to introduce the SD-38VB, a DVD player with a built-in VHS VCR. This product is aimed squarely at those who need a new DVD deck but aren't ready to give up on VHS - and want to reduce the amount of boxes under the TV at the same time.

The built-in VHS hardware makes the 38VB a chunky beast as DVD players go, but it's not without its charm. The black styling looks nice and sleek, making it seem modern enough to mask the 30-year-old technology that lies within. It's also solidly made, despite the bargain basement price.

The rear houses an unsurprisingly limited selection of sockets, which includes progressive scan capable component video output (for DVD playback only) and two SCARTs, one of which offers RGB output from DVDs and another that accepts composite video for VCR recordings. There's no HDMI output, which means no upscaling or ‘all-digital' picture transfer from source to screen, but the component and RGB outputs should deliver good enough pictures on undemanding TVs.

There's a coaxial digital audio output for sending Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams to your receiver, alongside analogue stereo output. On the front panel are composite and stereo audio inputs for making recordings from camcorders and other peripherals.

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