Originally Posted by JPowers
I'm not going to pay more to fix it than it's worth, though. It's disappointing, but if someone here can fix it for themselves, they can have it for free. Perhaps I can get a good deal on another one?
You seem to be fixating on the cash value of the VCR, instead of its personal value to you as a tool to use in your VHS to DVD transfer project. Working or not working, it doesn't matter: VCRs are now utterly worthless except to a discriminating few who still need them. Yet those few who still need them tend to be frugal and will not offer more than a pittance even if you produce a repair bill dated yesterday. Just as with restoring an old car or camera, you'll never recoup what you put into it: no one cares that you invested $100 into fixing something if the "market value" is considered to be $20. That's $20 for a fully-operational
VCR, you'll get no takers on a broken VCR: it isn't worth the shipping cost when they can just find someone else with a working unit to sell. So "residual cash value" is not the right way to approach this. Instead, think about the questions posed earlier by other members- you haven't answered these questions yet, and we can't really give you worthwhile advice until you do.
The most important considerations are:
Did you personally
feel this Toshiba was providing obviously, significantly better-than-average video playback during the years it was operational, and the last time you used it? Was it a dramatically different quality from what you'd experienced with other VCRs? If yes, then you may want to consider repairing it: switching to another random VCR will mean archiving your tapes with a totally different visual "look." If you simply felt the Toshiba was nicer years ago, but don't really give a damn anymore at this late date and just want to get these tapes digitized to store on a shelf, then don't spend the money for repairs.
Your decision must also factor your answers to the second and/or third questions posed previously: exactly how many tapes are we talking about? 20? 50? 100?, and what proportion of those tapes were done in six-hour EP/SLP mode? If you truly have only a "small" amount of tapes to digitize, and most were recorded in SP mode, then you can most likely slide by using another VCR. Tons of nice lightly-used VCRs are available for under $40: something like a JVC 5912 or Panasonic AG2560 would serve very well for a small dubbing project without many "problematic" tapes.
OTOH, if you have 100 or more tapes and/or a large percentage were done in EP/SLP mode, you'll really want your original Toshiba VCR to track them properly. Other VCRs will be "OK" but not as good: problems with slight picture noise will occur and HiFi audio tracking could be a pain. This is where the true relative "value" of a $100 repair tab comes in: do you have enough idiosyncratic tapes to make the $100 pay off in improved dubbing quality? Divide the repair bill by the number of tapes to arrive at a per-tape DVD conversion cost. If you think these tapes are worth preserving in the first place, they're probably worth $100 VCR repair to optimize the results. Many of us have been down this road, investing more $ than we'd planned to get a working, better-than-average VCR to dub a large VHS collection.
As to the DVD recorder, avoid the combo unit no matter what you decide about the Toshiba VCR. The combo has a crummy VCR, and the internal transfer function between VCR and DVD is hard to control with any finesse. If we're talking under two dozen tapes, the combo might
be a viable quick-n-dirty solution. Otherwise, the Magnavox 533 or 535 connected to an external VCR is a much better choice, and holds its resale value rather well. You might even look for a cheaper, used, older 2160 or 513 model: these are identical to the 533 and 535 for all practical purposes when dubbing from a VCR.