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Digital VHS Cassette

Cheap upgrade for technophobe relatives
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Similar to audio cassette shaped CD converters and MP3 players, a VHS cassette with its guts replaced by a read/write head, a cheap, upgradable IDE hard drive, and an Mpeg codec chip. Draws power from the VCR's motor spindles and displays a simple user interface via the TV screen, controlled using play, fast-forward and rewind. No more piles of fuzzy, mis-labeled soap-operas cluttering the movies shelf, no more stretched tape at the ends, no more missing the last five minutes because you -just- ran out, (When it's full, it can over-write the oldest files) no more granny recording over Red Dwarf, and no more buzzing back and forward trying to find the news without accidentally seeing who dunnit in the unwatched drama just before it. It could even automatically not record the adverts.
Mharr, Aug 07 2001

VHS adaptor http://www.halfbake.../idea/VHS_20adapter
Similar idea [JKew, Jun 15 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       I don't know the voltage and current requirements of a HDD, but I *do* know that there is no power available at the motor spindles of a VCR. It would be possible for a VCR to have a power socket on its deck so that a modified cassette could dock with it, but why? I recently paid about £100 for a 30Gb HDD. Add the cost of the bells and whistles that you're adding and, even with the reducing cost of drives, it's not commercially viable. Having said which, I like the concept, but isn't it baked by TiVo?
angel, Aug 07 2001

       Agreed, this isn't economical just yet, but the viability of the TiVo, which offers much more functionality at higher (And ongoing) cost, is what suggested to me that it will soon be viable, given the exponential rate of price/performance progress in the central and most expensive component. The point of this was that it might sell to settled, conservative consumers who don't feel a need for new functionality if it means another blinkenlichten box trailing cables around the TV, another contract to sign, and completely new paradigms and controls to learn. Trojan technology. Re: Power - it is available at the spindles, as rotational kinetic energy. Just add magnet and coil.
Mharr, Aug 07 2001

       OK, point taken about the kinetic energy of the motors, but when a VCR is in stop mode the only motor running is the head drum, and even then not in all machines. One of my Sony machines runs the head drum and half-laces the tape when it first receives a cassette, but drops out to stop mode (head drum stopped, tape unlaced) after two minutes or so. Are we talking about an after-market cassette that fits existing, non-upgraded VCRs? If so, there are lots of sensors which would need to be fooled into thinking that a real cassette carrying real tape was in there.
angel, Aug 07 2001

       Not sure about the practicalities, but I like the "Trojan technology" aspect as a wider concept. It's kind of like applying the multi-tier software approach to hardware - i.e. the nuts and bolts of what is actually going on behind the user interface is completely irrelevant to the user, so why not try and make each tier as independent as possible, keep the interface the same, and let the gubbins at the back do whatever it does however it does it?
Guy Fox, Aug 07 2001

       Guy Fox: The `trojan` thing has been going on for quite some time. I`ve seen a digital camera which appears to be a film cartridge as far as the conventional camera it fits inside is concerned, and cassette tape shaped devices which appear to a tape deck to be either a radio, or an mp3 device.   

       I`m sure there are others...
Pallex, Aug 07 2001

       To me, this is a "bridge" technology, in this case Analog VCR to Tivo. I see this as a cassette tape case with a magnetic (analog) read head attached to a notebook sized hard drive with a ethernet, usb, and or/wireless connection. I personally think that it would have to be battery powered, but I'm sure that spindle power recharging would be available. I think that this is a great way to get digital video to and from VCR's and computers. I see this less as a consumer need(that's what Tivo is for) then as a way for "pro-sumers" and small news stations to bring old (paid for) analog equipment to digital without the enormous expense.
marc1919, Oct 18 2001

       Supercat's annotation to "VHS adaptor" (link) notes that pretending to be a VHS cassette is a much tricker problem than pretending to be an audio cassette.
JKew, Jun 15 2002


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