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Variety Declares VHS Dead 339

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the dearly-beloved dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Variety has written an obituary for the VHS format only 3 years after it was surpassed in popularity by the DVD." While VHS is hardly the format of choice these days, there are still many, many home movies and other favorite recordings and commercial releases floating around in VHS. How long until VHS players themselves go the way of the 8-track player?
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Variety Declares VHS Dead

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:15PM (#16878274) Journal

    From the /. summary:

    How long until VHS players themselves go the way of the 8-track player?

    Did I miss the memo? Is there some danger around the 8-track and availability. Please... ... ... click

    ... ..., someone tell me this isn't so! Have I invested all this money on all these artists and their tapes... ... ...click

    for naught? Sigh.

    • by kabz (770151) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:38PM (#16878564) Homepage Journal
      What is this infernal light I see before me?

      Will no-one rid me of this flashing clock?

    • Don't worry (Score:3, Interesting)

      You paid for the 8-tracks which includes a fair use license for the music. Just rip the music off to Audio Compact Discs or MP3s and destroy the 8-tracks. If you have any questions, just contact the RIAA which will assist you in preserving your rights.
      • You paid for the 8-tracks which includes a fair use license for the music.

        I'm impressed. Not only are you completely wrong, but you're so creatively wrong. Tell the truth, were you being deliberately silly, or did you really think this?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          So, in lawyer school didn't they teach you that "completely and creatively wrong" means the same thing as sarcastic?
  • the real question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:16PM (#16878282) Homepage
    How long until VHS players themselves go the way of the 8-track player?

    With the cost of storage plummeting and the rise of digital distribution and on-demand services, the real question should be: "How long until physical distribution of media goes the way of the 8-track player?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tverbeek (457094) *
      My former boss has been predicting the death of physical media since the early days of the CD-ROM, when the internet started becoming commonplace. One of these years I'm convinced he's going to be proven right.
    • The real answer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:54PM (#16878718)
      It'll happen when broadband becomes as ubiquitous and as reliable as electricity. We have a loooong way to go before that happens.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by billcopc (196330)
        We ? Not quite. Our Governments have a long way to go before they wake up and lay down the adequate infrastructure to support nationwide broadband. They're still of the attitude that high-speed internet access is a luxury, that it's for geeks and gamers. Will someone smack them in the face and demonstrate that we can do a helluva lot more online, and could do even better if there were enough pipe to push content through. VOIP, IPTV, day-to-day business.. Hell I'd rather pay my bills online than physic
        • Why do I have to spend an hour driving to the store, hunting down a box that's in no particular order and is probably already out, just to see a stupid movie ?

          You live an -hour- from a Blockbuster and you have internet fast enough to download DVD quality videos with ease?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cheater512 (783349)
        You can get faster electricity? Why didnt anyone tell me?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by zigziggityzoo (915650)
        This could be fixed with Internet over Power [wikipedia.org]. Then broadband will be exactly as ubiquitous and reliable as electricity. It actually doesn't really take as much to implement; the infrastructure is already there.
    • by RajivSLK (398494)
      Well only about 16.7 percent of the world's population has access to the internet. So a while.
    • by achacha (139424)
      DVD is dying, torrents to portable/mass storage and On-Demand are the new direction. I estimate current DVDs will die in 3 years, replaced with HD-DVD or better. Eventually we will be buying hash ids that will be saved on our portable devices to allow us to view on demand anything we want via streaming.
    • by Da_Weasel (458921) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:22PM (#16880248) Homepage
      VHS has been dead for at least 5 years. I distinctly remember having to explain the totally foreign concept of rewinding a tape so you could watch it again to my oldest daughter when she was almost 6 (5 years ago). After she finally understood why the tape retained it's state she simply replied "That's dumb!". I heard the VCR gasp, then it reached for its chest, and collapsed to the ground clinching its heart in its hand. It's clock flashed twelve faster. I leaned closer to hear what the VCR was mouthing to me. "B be be kind, rewind..." And then it's clock flashed no more...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RicktheBrick (588466)
      When do you think one can download a movie for less than the cost of renting one at a video store. I can rent a recent movie for $3 and keep it overnight. It will be viewed more than once during that time so unless they increase the speed of downloading so one can watch the movie instantly and have a price of say $1 per view than I would not be interested. I think that vhs tapes are better than dvd disks too. I can give my 4 year old a tape and not have to start it up for him. DVD's usually require a me
  • remember tapes? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by alta (1263)
    I used to type the programs out of the little spiral book into my comodore. Then I'd type some command to save, and push record on the tape deck.

    Oh yeah,
    Load "*",8,1

    I never new really what that meant, but i knew the result was I could get a list of all the programs on the disk, and then i could run defender! Or Zork!
    • You insensitive clod! I could never get the tape deck to work with my ZX80 [wikipedia.org] (that's ZED-EX-ATEY) and I had to type in my programs every time I restarted. Can you imagine what it was like to develop machine code having to type in my hex loader afresh every time the thing crashed. But develop code I did. I even got my epic 23 byte program published in a magazine.
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:19PM (#16878324) Homepage Journal
    Still around, still useful, just not commonplace.
    • by gosand (234100) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:32PM (#16878500)
      Still around, still useful, just not commonplace.


      Hmm, I wonder how commonplace it is. I still use mine. Not so much to watch movies, but I will record things and watch them. I just don't have that big of a desire or need to get a DVR. I had a friend that used his VCR a LOT. He had probably 100 video tapes of things he had taped that he needed to watch. He upgraded to TiVO, and now he has a more compact way of recording things that he never watches. I honestly don't know what people are recording. I watch about 3 shows, and if I miss them, I miss them - whooptie doo. I just can't really justify the cost of a DVR. But then again, I don't understand why people spend $1200+ on a television, or $300 on a video card for their computer.

      • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:42PM (#16878582) Homepage Journal
        Taping with the DVD recorder does not feel as "safe" as with VHS.
        We have a recorder here and often I wonder if the old model was better designed for the task.
        It was rare a tape just broke.
        Sure, it would get slowly grainy and you could basically get one final watch out of them.
        The DVDs suck because one error can fuck up the entire show.

        I hope NTL hurry up and bring out a PVR.
        • by antdude (79039)
          One error? Like what? I thouhgt hiccups would result unreadable spot that can be skipped.

          I was planning to get a DVD recorder instead of a DVR/PVR if my old VCR ever dies.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by LiquidCoooled (634315)
            Sometimes it can resync, sometimes it can't.
            We have had programs showing up lasting -96 hours (or similar unrealistic figures) which were completely unusable.

            Mind you, this seems no different to the experience I have had with dvd-rw's.
            YMMV
            • by antdude (79039)
              Interesting. How often does this problem occurs? Hmm, maybe I don't want a DVD recorder then. :(
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ben there... (946946)
            For some more anecdotes: I record shows on my comp using SageTV, and toss the DVDs in a pile, sometimes on the floor. Then step on them. Every single one of 150+ still plays without even skipping. Some take longer to read after popping them in, but no biggie.
      • But then again, I don't understand why people spend $1200+ on a television, or $300 on a video card for their computer.

        These days, people spend $300 on a video card so that six months later they can replace it and wire the little fan from it onto an old USB cable and make a USB fan to blow cool air at them when they're playing whatever FPS is in vogue.
      • The players still seem pretty commonplace, and the media is still readily available. I just reused my tapes.

        I think tonight I am going to just stick a $150 eyeTV hybrid on my satellite box and forget about the VCR, I forgot to change the tape two nights in a row.
      • A Nakamichi, Tandberg, or Revox tape deck IMO sounds better than any CD. There is still an active subculture maintaining these cassette decks because they sound so good and they are so simple and reliable to record with. See for example:

        http://naks.com/ [naks.com]

        I imagine the use of video and cassette tapes is still very active outside the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
  • VHS? Dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by segedunum (883035) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:20PM (#16878352)
    Well, as long as I have a huge collection of videos with films and stuff recorded off the TV, and until a usable alternative for recording from the TV that I own and control becomes available, VHS is going to be in my house for quite a bit longer.

    I suspect that film studios would like to see the back of VHS and any format that allows easy recording, but it's what people want and why it really accelerated into such a popular format.
    • by tverbeek (457094) *
      Although I have an extensive library of VHS tapes for which I'll "always" need a VHS player, I stopped using it to record off of TV shortly after I bought a TiVo a few years ago. Feel free to substitute a MythTV system if you wish, but I know that I would already wouldn't miss having a VHS recorder.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      So you can't own and control a DVD writing DVR? You can't control MythTV or any other open software PVR solutions?
  • 8-Track (Score:3, Insightful)

    by subreality (157447) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:22PM (#16878388)
    I actually suspect VHS won't go the way of the 8-Track. 8-Track has a small cult following that's endeared to it because of it's impractical quirkiness. No fast forward, no rewind. You wanna hear your favorite song again? Wait for it to work its way around.

    VHS, on the other hand, didn't have any cute annoyances. It wasn't a great standard, but it had no major drawbacks. And for that reason, I don't expect it's nostalgia to hang on nearly so long.
    • by hurfy (735314)
      Good answer !

      And one of my decks has a fast-forward :)

      And a pause button, rewind would make a god-awful mess tho, hehe.

      I am worse than an 8-track buff, I am a QUADraphonic 8-track buff :)
      hehe, Quad recorder with a 4-channel dolby box and 2 EQs. I need to make some mix tapes one of these days.

      If I could format shift the VHS easily I would but there is nothing to format shift my QUAD tapes to nor would I ;)
  • Yeah, but.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    VHS tapes are much more durable than DVDs. If you want a clear idea of the difference, try borrowing some high-traffic DVDs from the library and viewing those. VHS tapes are also handy when one needs to "tape" something to watch later.
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Except that the quality of VHS tapes degrades over time, while they are just sitting there.

      Most people don't have "high-traffic" needs. Plus, even at its best, VHS quality is hardly palatable anymore.
  • Mass adoption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:24PM (#16878406)
    seriously hard to kill the peoples choice
  • One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered VHS community when Variety confirmed that VHS market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all pre-recorded video sales. Coming close on the heels of a recent Variety survey which plainly states that VHS has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. VHS is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by falling dead last in the recent video rental test market
  • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:25PM (#16878422) Homepage Journal
    VHS won't die until the HTPC appliance fully matures, and a DRM-free medium is adapted en masse, and can record both NTSC and ATSC. DVD recordable is almost there, but is less flexible than an HTPC and won't record high-def, so why bother upgrading? Tivo almost has it, except tivo decides how long you can keep recordings (in some cases at least), NOT you, PLUS it requires a monthly subscription and either a land line or ethernet connection to phone home. Also, Tivo makes it FAR to difficult to record say, Smallville or Desperate Housewives or whatever it is you and your friends all want to watch, then take that recording over to a friend's house or simply lend it out. It's FAR to difficult for the average joe to record a show for you while you're on vacation and then give you the timeshifted content.

    I think that VHS will be around until the HTPC is easy to use, DRM-free, HDTV capable, AND the public is made aware of it. Myth is so close, and yet so far, because it is a royal pain in the ass to set up, and the easy-to-configure distribution (Knoppmyth) is fully two generations behind when it comes to chipset and video card support.
    • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:49PM (#16878658) Homepage Journal
      VHS won't die until the HTPC appliance fully matures, and a DRM-free medium is adapted en masse, and can record both NTSC and ATSC.

      Most purchasers these days don't care about DRM and have no idea what NTSC or ATSC are. Those who do know NTSC don't know what ATSC is.

      DVD recordable is almost there, but is less flexible than an HTPC and won't record high-def, so why bother upgrading?

      I agree that DVD*R is pretty much DOA, mainly because it was just too complicated for a lot of people though.

      Tivo almost has it, except...

      tivo decides how long you can keep recordings (in some cases at least), NOT you


      Well, it is a FIFO setup, at least for content that you select, although not all DVRs work this way. But that's usually okay, and given the choice many people would prefer dropping the oldest footage they've asked for rather than the newest. In any case, if you try to put 22 hours of content into a 20 hour space, 2 hours of it are going to be lost.

      PLUS it requires a monthly subscription and either a land line or ethernet connection to phone home.

      Well, that's for namebrand Tivo. Almost all cable companies offer DVRs. Besides, compared to the cost of cable/sattelite, most people don't care about a Tivo subscription fee if they make use of the Tivo-specific features.

      Also, Tivo makes it FAR to difficult to record say, Smallville or Desperate Housewives or whatever it is you and your friends all want to watch, then take that recording over to a friend's house or simply lend it out

      Yup. Turns out that most of your friends probably have DVRs too. Those who don't, generally don't care. Those who do care will come and visit you to watch it if its that important.

      It's FAR to difficult for the average joe to record a show for you while you're on vacation and then give you the timeshifted content.

      So what? With many providers, you can just go online and add it yourself. Besides, unlike a traditional VCR you've probably set up a Season Pass to record what you want before you leave the house in the first place.

      I think that VHS will be around until the HTPC is easy to use, DRM-free, HDTV capable, AND the public is made aware of it.

      DVRs are easy to use, HDTV capable, and the public is aware of them. And almost nobody outside of /. gives a damn about the DRM, like it or not.
      • by aaza (635147)
        Most purchasers these days don't care about DRM and have no idea what NTSC or ATSC are. Those who do know NTSC don't know what ATSC is.

        Never The Same Colo(u)r.
        Always The Same Colo(u)r?

        I know, really it's Network Television Standard Comittee, but no idea what ATSC is.
        Until I googled it: Advanced Television Standard Committee.

        But you are right about "most purchasers", though.

      • Tivo content has the ability to be limited beyond your desires.

        if I snagged something on vhs five years ago, I still have it.. tivo can set it so you lose something X hours after recording it.. even if you mark it as save until deleted.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by simishag (744368)
      VHS is dead because it's actually pretty easy to transfer your Tivo shows off the hard drive. All you need is a VCR, and...

      Oh, wait.
    • by Sparohok (318277)
      Among your laundry list of complaints, the only place where VHS really fills a niche that is not well served by DVD or DVR is the ability to record standard definition television in order to share it with your friends. If that were an important niche for typical consumers, DVD recorders would be at least modestly successful products. Compared with DVD players and DVR, they have utterly failed in the market. Evidence suggests that this feature isn't something people care about very much.

      Since VHS cannot reco
    • Myth is so close, and yet so far, because it is a royal pain in the ass to set up, and the easy-to-configure distribution (Knoppmyth) is fully two generations behind when it comes to chipset and video card support.

      MythTV is pretty godawful. Why is the setup like 20 pages of crap that I have no interest in changing, or even knowing about? Knoppmyth is similarly bad, and the process of installing the ivtv driver for Hauppauge cards is way too complex, extracting firmware from a Windows driver package.

      OTOH, Sa

  • Hey, what do you guys have against 8-tracks? My 8-track player is working fine, I'm not going to dump it just for the sake of being trendy.

    Some of us still have 8-track minds [8trackheaven.com].

  • by Vskye (9079) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:28PM (#16878454)
    You can get movies that are only available on VHS. Or if you have a security system based on VHS recording and you actually get around to switching everything over to DVR. Or if your VHS player dies and you can not find a replacement.
  • maybe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by syrinx (106469)
    I have a whole drawer full of VHS tapes, but they all came from my wife when we got married. I was perfectly happy without a VCR.

    We still have a VCR but it doesn't really work. My plan is to take it apart and build a PVR based on a Mini-ITX motherboard inside it, so it will still act like a VCR, only, you know, without the tapes.
    • I have been trying to get my wife to let me record her naked for years to no avail. So VHS is your secret to success?
  • Maybe it is different for Americans, but it really isn't possible (from my point of view) for VHS to go the way of 8-track tapes. To my memory, in my life (and I can remember the '70s) I've seen one 8-track player and zero 8-track tapes. In terms of liveliness, even Beta is a hyperactive ferret on a sugar high* compared to 8-track.

    * This metaphor was brought to you by Sluggy Freelance [sluggy.com]. Remember - a metaphor is a simile that's grown up.
  • To have this following so closely on the heels of last weeks "Variety declares that poop comes from butts" ? Variety truly is the son of Man.
  • by east coast (590680) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:46PM (#16878618)
    Why are we paying credence to the likes of Variety on a geek site? And frankly, who cares what they think?
    • by JKConsult (598845)
      Um, what? Variety is the one of the (I'll hold of on saying "the", even though I believe it to be so) bibles of the movie industry. You know, those people who were the primary drivers of the VHS market. So I think they'd have a little bit to say about the matter.
  • No problem! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mogrify (828588) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:08PM (#16878850) Homepage
    That's okay, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are dead too [slashdot.org]. Oh, and WoW is lame [slashdot.org].

    C'mon, kids!!! What'll die next? The Zune? The PS3? The PS2? The PS1? The PS4? The Dreamcast? CompactFlash? The mouse? Vista? Slackware? XP? Caldera? Slashdot? Digg? MSDN? Web 2.0? Web 1.0? Internet2? Token Ring? IPv6? Episodic gaming? Non-episodic gaming? In-game ads? The PowerPC? Cell? Core duo? Core trio? Earth? Caprica? The Death Star? SCO? Novell? Red Hat? Sony? IE? Firefox? IceWeasel? The Pirate Bay? Mmmm. Okay, I'm bored. Continue below if you wish.
  • Comparing VHS and cassettes is a much better analysis. 8 track was never a popular medium for home recording like cassettes and VHS. Even today, a substantial portion of portable radios still come with cassette players. I say that VCRs will last until all forms of physical media are made extinct by on demand services.
  • by hurfy (735314)
    All my porn is on VHS you insensitive clod....

    Just kidding, almost half is on DVD now tho not neccessarily the best half ;)
  • I'm not dead yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mblase (200735) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:16PM (#16878926)
    How long until VHS players themselves go the way of the 8-track player?

    Until I can buy a DVD-RW recorder or a hard drive recorder for my TV that's under $50. Until then, I'll keep using my VCR to record my favorite shows every week.
  • by meme_police (645420) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:36PM (#16879104)
    ...is that I NEVER had a bad rental tape. More than half the DVDs I've rented have had problems of varying impact. If VHS is dying please bring on convenient downloads because I don't think I'll ever rent a DVD again.
  • Well now that you can pick up a DVD Recorder (for your living room, not PC) for about $100, there's no point in investing any more in VHS. I recently got a Panasonic recorder that does +/-, DL and DVD-RAM for $199. With DVD-RAM you can even do Tivo-like things like pause live TV and rewind even while it is still recording. You can also go back and set chapter points at the commercial breaks and then delete the commercial chapters.
  • They might be right in this case, but come on... Variety is the same publication that thinks Jack Valenti is a cyborg [google.com].
  • You can still walk into a brick and mortar electronics store and purchase a tape deck or a turntable, because there's just so much media out there for both that were either home made or never reproduced on CD. The same thing is true of VHS video tapes so I suspect decks will linger on for at least another 10 years.

    However, in the audio field there's a few perks to analog. You have DJs who want vinyl, collectors who love vinyl as a format, and folks who believe analog tape (usually in the form of reel to r
  • Betamax has WON!!!
  • I found VHS superior to DVD when I wanted to show video clips in a class I taught. I can cue up a VHS tape to the exact spot I want, pop it out of my player, pop it into the classroom VCR and it's all set to go. No fiddling around with chapter selections or anything, I just hit Play. I also use a VCR to tape "Good Eats", and the occasional other program, since I don't have Tivo and (for complicated reasons) the DVR is not hooked up to the satellite receiver. Of course, no one will argue that VHS picture
  • As far as I know, Tammy and the T-Rex [imdb.com], starring Denise Richards, is not available on DVD or Betamax. How am I supposed to watch it now?
  • A lot of friends and family members still use VCR mainly for recording like TV shows because cheap, no DRM, and no friggin subscriptions. Movies are on DVDs. I was going to buy a DVR/PVR a few years ago, but they were still too expensive even without subscriptions. If my VCR (not that old) ever dies, I will probably just get a DVD recorder or something. I only need a recorder. I don't need a TV guide, helper, etc.

    I do have a computer with a HDTV tuner PCI card [www.bbti.us] ($40) that works in both in Linux and Windows.
  • ...who still send every promo movie out in VHS, to make ripping/uploading less attractive to the holder. VHS is the format you get when you ring an ad agency, and ask for a copy of a commercial. It's the format of choice for a lot of people who need to be able to quickly, cheaply copy some footage. Sweeping, bold predictions about consumer electronics from people *with* a clue are worthless, so why is anyone listening to Variety?
  • As Variety.... Or haven't they heard that print media is also on the decline.
  • by pixelguru (985395) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:32PM (#16879930) Homepage

    My daughter figured out how to play the VHS tape of her choice when she was about 14 months old. The process was simple - just jam a durable tape into the big slot, and kick back and watch some Baby Einstein. If the tape won't go in, press the little eject button, remove the old tape and try again. Piece of cake!

    6 months later, she's still working on DVDs. Getting one out of the package is a challenge in itself, and the discs must be handled gently with clean hands (usually we can manage one of those at a time). She knows which button opens the tray, but she's still working on getting the disc centered in the tray, and right side up. The tray is flimsy, and she's almost ripped it off at least once. Even if she gets a disc into the player, she still has to deal with the DVD menu interface or at least press the play button at the appropriate time. This whole process is far from toddler-friendly, but she is determined to figure it out, and I'm willing to let her keep trying as long as she's supervised.

    She's fast though, and last week, before I could stop her, she jammed a DVD into the VCR with great satisfaction after getting frustrated trying to get it to play. For the record, a DVD will fit fully into a VCR, and it took me 10 minutes and a pair of needle nose pliers to get it out.

  • HIX NIX VHS PIX
  • I'm more excited about miniDV taking a hike in exchange for a hard drive.

    Why do I get the impression that camera manufacturers will be charging exorbitant prices for small capacity hard drives?

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