A mere four years ago, becoming a member of the video brigade meant buying a VCR that didn't do much more than record and play back tapes. The big decisions were format (Beta or VHS?) and remote control (wireless or the kind with a cord attached?). Now things are much more complicated--and rewarding.
Just about all the new VCRs, even the cheapest (and prices have gone down, down, down), have wireless remote control. VHS is by far the dominant format (though its competition has been joined by 8mm--and Super-VHS is just around the corner). And these new machines commonly come with such special effects as viewable fast-forward (search), slow motion and freeze-frame.
The high-end models offer digital special effects, stereo hi-fi sound, stereo-TV decoding and more. And then there are all the gadgets you can connect to the VCR to frivolously or seriously enhance video enjoyment. The array of recently developed products is confusing--and expensive. But packed with potential.
Digital-effects VCRs: "Digital" VCRs and TVs don't digitally generate a picture--that's still a while off. But they do provide jitter-free slow motion and freeze-frame. Some models also deliver a few of the tricks you'd otherwise have to buy a special-effects generator to get, like polarization (see below).