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A Video 2000 videocassette
|Media type||Magnetic Tape|
Video 2000 (also known as V2000, with the tape standard Video Compact Cassette, or VCC) is a consumer videocassette system and analogue recording standard developed by Philips and Grundig to compete with JVC's VHS and Sony's Betamax video technologies. Designed for the PAL colour television standard (some models additionally handled SECAM), distribution of Video 2000 products began in 1979 exclusively in Europe, South Africa and Argentina and ended in 1988.
Video 2000 was presented at the International Radio Exhibition in Berlin in 1979 and succeeded Philips's earlier Video Cassette Recording (VCR) format and its derivatives (VCR-LP and Grundig's SVR). Although some early models and advertising featured a mirror-image 'VCR' badge based on the older systems' logo, Video 2000 was an entirely new (and incompatible) format that incorporated many technical innovations. Despite this, the format was not a major success and was eventually discontinued, having lost out to the rival VHS system in the videotape format war.
The Video Compact Cassette
Philips named the videotape standard Video Compact Cassette (VCC) to complement its landmark audio Compact Cassette format introduced in 1963, but the format itself was marketed under the trademark Video 2000.
Despite the name, VCCs are marginally larger than VHS cassettes —shorter, but thicker and deeper. They have two co-planar reels containing half-inch (12.5mm) wide chromium dioxide magnetic tape. The format utilised only half (6.25mm) of the half-inch tape on a given 'side', and so it is occasionally referred to erroneously as a quarter-inch tape format despite its physical tape width. The cassette can then be flipped over to use the other half of the tape, thus doubling playing time.
The tape is totally enclosed when not in use. Unlike competing formats that have spaces in the cassette for the tape loading mechanism to be inserted, thus exposing the delicate magnetic tape surface, VCCs have a retractable sheath that covers such space. The sheath is retracted as a tape is inserted into the machine and only then can the tape cover be raised to fully expose the tape.
While VHS and Beta tapes have a break-off tab to protect recordings from erasure (as in audio Compact Cassettes and, once broken, the cavity left by the missing tab must be covered or filled before the tape can be reused), VCCs employ a reversible solution: a switch on the tape edge can be turned to red/orange to protect the recordings, and back to black/brown (depending on the colour of the cassette housing) to re-record. The switch covers/uncovers a hole along the tape edge which is detected by a sensor in the machine.
The tape edge features six such holes along each side of the tape, detected by sensors on the cassette's underside. The left-hand cluster includes the write-protection hole. The right-hand cluster of three is used (by various permutations of open/closed status) to tell the machine the total tape running time. This was employed in second generation machines such as Grundig's Video 2x4 Super to provide a real-time tape counter: upon insertion of the tape the machine moves the tape forward and then backward by a small amount and monitors the comparative angular speed of the reels. This is looked up in a data table for the known total tape length and the hours and minutes used are then displayed. A similar technique was later used on Video8, MiniDV and MicroMV cassettes. Some later VHS machines also featured this ability although it did not work with VHS-C cassettes. NOTE: When Grundig began marketing VHS recorders, its VS2XX series machines employed a similar system, whereby barcoded stickers attached to the tape edge indicated the total tape length to the machine so that it could calculate the time used.
A hole between the two spools enables a pin in the VCR to pass right through the cassette. This pin releases ratchets within the cassette that prevent the tape accidentally becoming slack in transit. The VCR's eject function includes a tape tensioning action prior to the cassette being ejected.
Format and features
Dynamic Track Following (DTF) eliminated the need for a separate control track, and enabled the video heads to accurately follow the recorded tracks on the tape during playback. Therefore, by design V2000 machines does not require a video tracking control (however, Grundig's model 1600 lacked DTF). During record, a sequence of four pilot frequencies is recorded with the video signal. During playback, if a video head reads an adjacent track, a voltage of up to ± 150 volts is applied to the piezo-electric material on which the video heads are mounted. The flexible head mount enables the head to accurately read every track (ie, no noisebars), at up to seven times normal speed forwards, and fives times in reverse. VHS developers JVC later introduced a so-called "Dynamic Drum" in a few top-of-the-range devices.
V2000 is able to play both fields of the image in still frame mode, providing full vertical resolution whereas VHS and Betamax could only reproduce one field, giving only half of the normal vertical resolution. A real advantage of DTF on all but the very first V2000 models is the ability to provide picture search without noise bars across the screen, a feature domestic VHS or Betamax machines were only ever able to approach by introducing complex multi-head drums.
At the time of its launch, Video 2000 also offered several innovative features unmatched by the competing formats VHS and Betamax:
- All V2000 VCRs sport an auto-rewind function (later matched by VHS and Betamax)
- Dynamic noise suppression to reduce tape hiss on the audio track (similar to Dolby on VHS machines)
- Provision of a data track alongside the video track
- Channel selection and timer programming via a 0-9 numeric keypad
- While other formats used transparent leader to detect tape end, in a Video Compact Cassette a metal strip on the back of the tape is detected optically by reflection to trigger auto-stop
- Multiple motors meant that the mechanism was direct drive - each spool having its own motor and electric brake
- Direct control of any function so that, with a cassette inserted, one could just press play without switching the machine on first; machines would switch off after a short period of inactivity
- If record was pressed when the machine was empty or had a write-protected cassette in it, the machine would open the cassette carriage
- Automatically winding the tape to a tape counter value input on the keypad ("go to").
- Not long before the end of production Philips introduced a half-speed mode, the V2000 XL or eXtra Long, doubling capacity and making it possible to store 16 hours (eight hours per side) on one single tape. This was featured in Philips VR2840 and Grundig's Video 2x8 machines.
Linear stereo sound was available on some models, though both VHS and Betamax were offering hifi stereo sound with near-CD quality by the mid 1980s.
Main article: videotape format war
After displaying their VR2000 prototype at trade shows and to the media Philips released the first Video 2000 VCR, the VR2020, in the UK in 1979. Philips models were re-badged as Pye and ITT, amongst others, and even re-skinned as Bang & Olufsen, whilst Grundig models were re-badged as Siemens.
A key intention of the V2000 format, thanks to DTF, was tape compatibility. A tape from any machine should play perfectly on any other machine. Unfortunately, when the VR2020 reached the shops it was discovered that its audio head was 2.5mm out of position compared to that on Grundig's Video 2x4. This meant that the sound would be out of sync with the picture when played back on the other type of machine. Both manufacturers' production lines hastily moved the audio head 1.25mm to a common position, but compatibility issues remained for recordings made on the first generation of machines. Furthermore, the required close tolerances and fragility of the DTF system resulted in significant inter-machine compatibility issues which were never fully resolved.
Furthermore, there were initially some compatibility issues with the tape interchange, allegedly even with the lap synchrony, if cassettes recorded with Philips equipment were to be played on Grundig machines.
Although Philips and Grundig agreed on a common tape format, they came up with machines that were radically different mechanically. Building on its experience with VCR, Grundig machines featured a Betamax-style loading ring to gently pull the tape around the video heads in a 'U-wrap' over all three generations of their recorders, which was effective, simple and economical.
Philips, however, used an 'M-wrap' similar to that in VHS machines. Cables pulled pins along tracks in order to pull the tape into the transport path. This drive was large, heavy and very complex to produce, although having the head drum, capstan, audio/erase heads and the respective drive motors all mounted on a common base plate meant it was produced to high tolerances. Philips referred to this assembly as the ‘microworld’. Second and third generation Philips drives replaced the cable-pulled pins with a reliable lever mechanism.
In addition, first and second generation Grundig recorders had a high failure rate due to thin-walled plastic connectors between the drive and the motor connection board.
Compared to VHS, production costs were a big problem with Video 2000. For their second-generation series Philips developed a completely new drive, with the tape pulled against the heads in an formation by pins on lever arms. This drive was very compact, with very high quality and (compared to VHS) very fast response times, but still had five direct-drive motors (head drum, capstan, two belt drive and a threading and cassette compartment). Due to their compact nature, these last Philips drives were quite expensive to service but defects in the mechanism are quite rare, except for the rubber pressure roller which is easy to change.
Other improvements include reduced outer dimensions and weight and addition of a SCART audio/video connector.
Philips and Grundig intended Video 2000 to improve on the perceived failings of the VHS and Betamax formats whilst providing the potential for further developments. However, the format was withdrawn before many of these possibilities appeared on the market.
The prototype Video Mini Cassette was a compact version of the VCC (analogous to VHS-C) that was playable in existing machines using a full-sized cassette adaptor. Published photos clearly show the nomenclature VMC120, suggesting that 60 minutes per side were possible (compared to 20 minutes total initially for VHS-C), but Philips retired Video 2000 before the development was ready for market. The 108x72x21mm Video Mini Cassette was somewhat larger than VHS-C's (92x59x23mm). However, the cassette - as well as the adaptor - left the tape noticeably exposed to mishandling.
Hifi sound was never marketed although photos of the Philips VR2870 were published in 1985, shortly before the format's demise. This would have recorded pulse-code modulated (PCM) audio in the data track, offering the format another advantage over VHS/Beta as the hifi track would be independent of the visuals, and so could be re-recorded or dubbed as became possible later with Video8.
Rumours also circulated in the press of an auto-reverse machine shortly before the format was retired. Technically this would have been a major challenge to enable a single head drum to scan both 'sides' of the tape at the correct angle.
Alongside the write-protect hole were two that were never used. One was slated to indicate the tape formulation as higher coercivity tapes were to be introduced for the 'Super 2000' hi-band version of the format. The flexibility of this system also allowed for metal tape to be introduced for the digital version 'Digital 2000', also in the early stages of development as the format was canceled. Internal documents suggested the cassette abbreviations VSC and VDC to be used, respectively, for the two developments.
Although Video 2000 was technologically superior to the competition in several ways, it could not compete with VHS and Betamax's key advantages:
- By the time it reached the market, VHS and Betamax had established market share and considerable prerecorded video libraries.
- JVC offered other manufacturers free licenses to produce VHS devices
- VHS and Betamax recorders have been credited with greater reliability.
- VHS and Betamax both had hi-fi stereo sound.
- Betamax camcorders arrived at market first.
- VHS and Betamax enjoyed worldwide distribution.
Additionally, Video 2000 never achieved the picture quality (optimally adjusted devices) of the predecessor systems VCR, VCR-LP or SVR because of the video writing speed.
In 1985 Grundig started development and production of VHS recorders alongside V2000, and in 1986 Philips announced that it would discontinue the manufacturing of Video 2000 recorders, focusing instead on VHS exclusively. Their first home-grown VHS recorder - VR6560 - was virtually a clone of the VR2324, using the VHS format tapes and the usual VHS M-wrap. Curiously, when Philips launched its second-generation home-grown VHS recorders (VR6467, VR6760, etc.) they pioneered the VHS 'U-wrap' (known colloquially as the "Charly" deck) and this was used in many Philips-built machines well into the first half of the 1990s. Grundig also used U-wrap in its own VHS decks for a short while before using Panasonic-manufactured decks.
- Philips VR2020 basic recorder (also Pye 20VR20, Siera 20VR20, B&O Beocord 8800, ITT 482)
- Philips VR2021 as VR2020 with minor cosmetic changes to bring into line with VR2022, and incorporating several of that machine’s upgraded componentry (also Pye 20VR21, ITT 483)
- Philips VR2022 as VR2021 with added noiseless Picture Search at 7x forwards and 5x reverse (Pye 20VR22, B&O Beocord 8802, ITT 580)
- Philips VR2022S as VR2022 but with half-speed slow motion
- Philips VR2023 redesigned fascia and remote control as standard
- Philips VR2024 as VR2023 with added linear stereo (also as VR2099 in dark grey casing)
- Philips VR2025 rebranded Grundig Video 2x4 Super (PAL/SECAM tuner - recorded SECAM as PAL)
- Philips VR2026 (PAL/SECAM tuner - recorded SECAM as PAL)
- Philips VR2220/VR2120 two-part (recorder/tuner-timer) portable machine (also Pye and Radiola 22VR20, Tesla VM2220, Seleco ST900/901)
- Philips VR2324 basic series II compact machine (Pye 23VR24, Siera 23VR24)
- Philips VR2330 as VR2324 with linear stereo
- Philips VR2334 as VR2324 with added remote control and trick play
- Philips VR2340 as VR2334 with added linear stereo
- Philips VR2350 front-loading MatchLine model (features as for VR2340)
- Philips VR2840 as VR2340 with added 16-hour XL recording mode
- Philips VR2870 as VR2340 with PCM hifi stereo (only seen in photos, so perhaps just a development machine that wasn't released?)
- Philips VR2414 basic series III compact machine
- Philips VR2424 slightly redesigned VR2414
- Grundig Video 2x4 basic recorder 700 (also ITT 480, Siemens FM204)
- Grundig Video 2x4 plus 770 – as 2x4 with added trick play
- Grundig Video 2x4 Super 800 – series II machine with noiseless Picture Search at 7x forwards and 5x reverse (also Philips VR2025, Siemens FM402)
- Grundig Video 2x4 850 – as 2x4 Super
- Grundig Video 2x4 Stereo 880 – as 2x4 Super with added linear stereo (Siemens FM404)
- Grundig Video 2x4 1600 – basic series III machine, the only V2000 not to feature DTF
- Grundig Video 2x4 2000 – series III machine
- Grundig Video 2x4 2000a - as 2000 but with redesigned electronics and updated display (also Siemens FM324)
- Grundig Video 2x4 2200 – series III machine with added linear stereo
- Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2080 – series III machine featuring 16-hour XL recording mode (also Siemens FM328, FM328-9 PAL/SECAM)
- Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2280 - as 2080 with added linear stereo (also Siemens FM428, FM429, FM429-9 PAL/SECAM)
- Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2280a - as 2280 but completely redesigned to align with the VS2nn VHS models
- TV system: 625/50 black and colour PAL and SECAM
- Band: ½ inch (two ¼ inch tracks)
- Head drum diameter: 65mm
- Head drum speed: 1500rpm
- Video spread width: SP 22.5μm / LP 11.25μm
- Video head gap width: 0.28μm
- Azimuth angle of the two heads: +/- 15 °
- Fitting Position: Rear Axle: 2 ° 38'51 "
- Tape speed: SP 2.442 cm/s, LP 1.221 cm/s
- Relative speed: SP 5.08 m/s, LP 5.09 m/s
- Video track length: 102 mm
- Control track: not required due to DTF, but design included a 0.3mm cue track for later applications
- Cassette dimension (L × W × H): VCC 183×110.5×26mm, VMC 108x72x21mm
- Video resolution luminance: 3 MHz = 240 lines (later, eg Philips VR 2840: 3.1 MHz = 250 lines)
- Video resolution Chroma (colour): approx. 0.5 MHz; Reduced colour with auxiliary support at 625 kHz
- Sound: Longitudinal track (stereo) with DNS (Dynamic Noise Suppression)
- Audio track width: mono 0.6mm, stereo 2×0.25mm (track pitch: 0.15mm)
- "V2000 PALsite" accessed January 3, 2007, lists the VCC dimensions: 183mm × 26mm × 110 mm
- VHS_e.htm "VHS Community: VHS 1976"[permanent dead link] accessed January 3, 2007, lists the VHS cassette dimensions: 188mm × 25mm × 104mm
- Dean, Richard. Home Video (Newnes Technical Books, 1982), page 18
- Videorecorder VR2026/53 R-Player Philips Radios, Radiomuseum
- Video 2000 page at Total Rewind - The Virtual Museum of Vintage VCRs
- V2000 PALsite - Information about the V2000 video format
- New Scientist July, 5, 1979,page 25
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