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Sony to stop making Betamax video tapes in March 2016
Old 11-12-2015, 10:18 PM   #1
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Sony to stop making Betamax video tapes in March 2016

Sony to stop making Betamax video tapes in March 2016.

That's what the headline reads on this Web article: Sony is finally killing its ancient Betamax format - Nov. 10, 2015

Wow! They are talking about the video tape or the media, and not the recorder. I did not know you can still buy blank Betamax tapes. And when did Sony stop making recorders? Are there any still in use? This is mind boggling.

Just now, I checked on eBay and saw that one can still buy 8" floppy media, but I bet they are NOS (new old stock). But a factory that still makes new Betamax tapes? No comprende!
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Old 11-13-2015, 12:16 AM   #2
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Pretty sure that professional video cameras used Betamax long after consumer Betamax machines disappeared.
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Old 11-13-2015, 12:50 AM   #3
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I still have a working Batamax machine and probably 25 or 30 old tapes that I never converted to another format. I haven't used the machine in a while but I remember the quality of the tape recordings was pretty poor by today's standards. (and/or it could be that they have just deteriorated over the years.)

The last time I watch any of them was probably 2 or 3 years ago for some old TV shows we had recorded. It was actually pretty funny to watch some of the TV commercials that were on the tapes from 30+ years ago.
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Old 11-13-2015, 10:54 AM   #4
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I recently dusted off two old VHS recorders that hadn't been used in years and listed them on craigslist for $10/each, no takers so put them in the free section, still no takers.
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Old 11-13-2015, 11:12 AM   #5
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I recently dusted off two old VHS recorders that hadn't been used in years and listed them on craigslist for $10/each, no takers so put them in the free section, still no takers.
It's like large, heavy tube-based console TVs. You can't give them away. When we moved a couple years ago we weren't going to take our 10-year-old, 32" HD-ready console with us (we paid $900 for it in 2003) with us and we first offered to sell it cheap, then offered it up to a lot of people for free if they would pick it up and haul it away (it worked great, the picture was great, but it weighed 150 pounds).

No one wanted it. I wound up conveying it to the buyers of our old house upon closing. When we moved we left it there and put the house on the market, with the TV still in the living room.
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Old 11-13-2015, 11:30 AM   #6
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Gee. I'm surprised that any videotapes are made any more at all, whether Betamax or VHS format.

Although I have a DVD player I get the impression those may be on their way out pretty soon, too. I don't seem to watch anything on mine any more and haven't even hooked it up since my move last July.

I donated all of my VHS videotapes some time ago. At least I don't still have any 8-track tapes.
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Old 11-13-2015, 11:47 AM   #7
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I'm curious who was buying blank tapes over the past 10 years?

According to wiki, Sony stopped making the recorders in 2002.

I would think the pros would have converted to more current formats years and years ago, and there must be a big supply of old tapes? BetaMax in the 2000's? In the past few years, disk and flash is far superior.

This isn't like player pianos, where there is some nostalgia for an amazing mechanical system, and can be valued as antiques. Very few (not none!) collectors would be interested.

Curious, isn't it?

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Old 11-13-2015, 12:16 PM   #8
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Curious, isn't it?
It is, but a bit of a feather in Sony's cap for continuing to support the (three?) remaining users for so long.
I own a Sony MiniDisc recorder/player, which is another Sony proprietary "great for its time, but now an orphan" format. I wonder if media is still available for that, not that I need/use it.
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Old 11-13-2015, 12:31 PM   #9
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It is, but a bit of a feather in Sony's cap for continuing to support the (three?) remaining users for so long.
I own a Sony MiniDisc recorder/player, which is another Sony proprietary "great for its time, but now an orphan" format. I wonder if media is still available for that, not that I need/use it.
A little more googling seems to say that many newsrooms were still using these tapes to back up their news shots. I know there can be lots of 'inertia' in some organizations. I suppose tape was still cheaper than hard drives up until a few years ago?

I recently started archiving some of our old family videos, either DV tape format, or VHS imported to DV format. I was able to do some significant compression (>10:1 I think), with no observable degradation in quality. But you do end up with 'key frames' that may be many seconds apart, and editing between the key frames is a little trickier (the frames between are mainly the 'difference' between the previous frame, the 'key frame' is a full frame). But there are tools to recreate the difference frames as key frames, people in the business should have easy access to tools like that.

There wasn't too much 'magic' required to compress those old miniDV tapes - remember that format came out in the 90's, and those portable cameras needed to compress the signal on the fly, in real time, with the computing power available at the time, and give decent battery life. Only so much compression that they could do within those limits.

Yet, to get those compression ratios on a decent modern laptop, it still took 2-3x real time. Clearly unobtainable in real time in the 90's in a portable, consumer product - that would have taken a super-computer!

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Old 11-13-2015, 01:52 PM   #10
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I'm not surprised.

Heck, I still record on wax cylinders from time to time, and they are still being manufactured (albeit privately).

I don't think any form of media has truly vanished.

_B
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Old 11-13-2015, 02:15 PM   #11
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It's like large, heavy tube-based console TVs. You can't give them away. When we moved a couple years ago we weren't going to take our 10-year-old, 32" HD-ready console with us (we paid $900 for it in 2003) with us and we first offered to sell it cheap, then offered it up to a lot of people for free if they would pick it up and haul it away (it worked great, the picture was great, but it weighed 150 pounds).

No one wanted it. I wound up conveying it to the buyers of our old house upon closing. When we moved we left it there and put the house on the market, with the TV still in the living room.
How funny... The same thing happen to us when we sold a house about 5 or 6 years ago. We still had an older 35 inch CRT TV. Not only was it super heavy (200+ lbs, easy) but it was extremely awkward/bulky for one person to pickup and move. Fortunately the buyer for our house was willing to take it. Now we have a 55 inch flat screen TV that probably only weighs 50 to 60 lbs.
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Old 11-15-2015, 11:04 AM   #12
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I donated all of my VHS videotapes some time ago. At least I don't still have any 8-track tapes.

Both my VHS tapes, and years earlier, my 8-tracks, were donated, to the circular file...
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:21 PM   #13
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The news media used Betamax for a long time. They didn't call their recording devices "camcorders" because that would sound like the same thing Aunt Clara owned - they called them ENG equipment for Electronic News Gathering. That made it sound more professional. But I don't know of any media outlet that still uses video tape. The advantages of digital made everyone move away from actual tape.
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Old 11-15-2015, 01:27 PM   #14
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My mom had to get a new DVD player a few years ago (2012?), but she insisted on it being a combination DVD/VHS machine. Man, was that hard to find! I doubt if she ever played more than a couple of DVDs on it, and I know for sure that she never played a tape. But she had to have it that way.
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Old 11-15-2015, 02:13 PM   #15
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Damn! And here I just uncovered two shiny BetaMax machines while de-hoarding my father-in-law's place.
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Old 11-15-2015, 07:25 PM   #16
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I purchased my first Betamax when I was 13 years old and stuck with the format until it died. To this day I'm proud to say I never owned a VHS machine. The Betamax format was superior, but because VHS could technically record up to six hours on the lowest quality format, it won the format wars early on.

I recorded many of my favorite shows when I was young, but when the final Betamax died, I trashed all of my tapes. I wish I had saved them though. I'm sure it would be fascinating to watch the commercials from more than 30 years ago.

I also remember reading a great book on Beta vs VHS, and the history of why VHS won the war. Fascinating stuff.
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Old 11-15-2015, 07:38 PM   #17
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I purchased my first Betamax when I was 13 years old and stuck with the format until it died. To this day I'm proud to say I never owned a VHS machine. The Betamax format was superior, but because VHS could technically record up to six hours on the lowest quality format, it won the format wars early on.

I recorded many of my favorite shows when I was young, but when the final Betamax died, I trashed all of my tapes. I wish I had saved them though. I'm sure it would be fascinating to watch the commercials from more than 30 years ago.

I also remember reading a great book on Beta vs VHS, and the history of why VHS won the war. Fascinating stuff.
But this viewpoint always aggravates me: 'The Betamax format was superior, but because VHS could technically record up to six hours on the lowest quality format, ...'

Well, consumers felt that BetaMax was not 'superior', due to the lower recording times. IIRC, it took two tapes for a full length movie? If it was 'superior' overall, it would have won over VHS.

It is correct to say that BetaMAx had superior video quality, but quality is only the only one measure of overall 'superiority'. One decent measure of this is what we called 'spider charts', which was a sort of circular graph, with the various key consumer decision points on each line that radiated out from the center. So you could compare various products on one chart that might include 'video quality', cost, reliability, size, style, color choice, battery run time, etc - whatever was important.

It's like when people ask me "which is the best type of battery to buy?" I say, if there was a best, there would only be one choice on the shelf. It depends - each has strengths and weaknesses. Cheap old 'standard' for some throw away use, alkaline for some, Lion, Ni-mh, etc. They all have their place.

But due to the nature of video rentals, and sharing with friends/family, it probably made sense for one video cassette format to 'win'.

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