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Sony Betamax VCR

The Sony Betamax, released in 1975, is a rare format of VCR cassettes and recorders, as the recorders stopped production in 2002, and the cassettes stopped production in 2016. This format became obsolete due to the popularity of its competitor, VHS, even though Betamax provided higher quality visuals and audio. 

The Cassettes

The cassettes were known for being thinner and more lightweight than the VHS cassettes, being 0.50" (12.7mm) wide. Inside these cassettes are film tape, the shortest available being 125ft and 15 minutes long, and the longest being 833ft and one hour and 40 minutes. Despite the shorter length of the tapes, the picture is high quality for the era. 

Picture is displayed in 576i or 480p, compared to the VHS 480i/240p. This high display quality also means you can transfer 1080p footage to Betamax cassettes and still retain a fair amount of the quality. Betamax has superior chroma and luminance carriers to VHS, by using a technique Sony called frequency multiplexing, they get more quality and a clearer picture. Even with this extra quality, the Betamax cassettes are backward compatible with older VCR machines. 

The Recorders

Betamax machines usually come in the dimensions 485 x 163 x 379mm (w/h/d), and although they are usually bigger and heavier than VHS machines, they have more features. BetaScan was a feature added for high-speed picture search in either direction, and BetaSkipScan allowed the operator to stop during the search to see where on tape they were. These features are useful for cutting film and skipping to the moments you want to watch. 

The Betamax VCRs came with SL-2000 digital audio recording systems, giving high fidelity audio in most recordings. Another option for HQ audio is the 1983 audio invention, called Beta Hi-Fi. These features were so ahead of their time that they had a huge part in the music and audio recording industry, making them unrivaled at the time of invention. 

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