Tag Archives: industrial

Panasonic AG-1970 S-VHS VCR (Circa-1993)

I’m gearing up for October, cause you know, Halloween and all that. The goal is to have one ‘spooky’ post per week, but we’ll see. ANYWAY, this, this is just too amazing to not get an update out of. Besides, I should probably write something for September, huh?

After a long dry spell, my electronic finds have picked up as of late, as a couple of my recent postings demonstrate. This one, however, handily tops ’em all. Indeed, while this may not be my favorite, this is far and away the most high-end VCR in my not-inconsiderable collection. Behold: The Panasonic AG-1970 S-VHS VCR! That’s it up above, man! I have other S-VHS VCRs (in fact, my first was nearly four years ago), but none can hold a candle to this monster. With it, I have, however tenuously, stepped into the professional world of VCRs.

Truth be told, I didn’t find this myself. Rather, my good friend Jesse (who y’all met here) came across it at a local thrift store, and gave me a buzz. He picked it up on the evening of August 18th, and the tag on it stated it had been put on the 16th. My last visit there had been on the 15th. I could have very easily missed out on this had the wrong person waltzed in over those intervening days, but luckily Jesse was the right person, and he very kindly picked it up for me. The wait was actually beneficial too; the AG-1970 was originally priced at $20, then marked down to $10, and Jesse used a 20% discount coupon on top that. Grand total? $8 + tax. You can not beat that; S-VHS decks almost never show up in-person around here, and when they do, they’re not the mega-high-end ones like this (such as the example linked above). The least I could do was give Jesse a straight $10 for his troubles.

This store generally prices their VCRs between $5 and $10, and lately, they’ve been hitting $5 pretty consistently. The fact the AG-1970 was initially priced so high shows that just from outside appearances alone, this thing is (or was) special. Even at the high of $20, that’s not a bad price, but $8? Why, that’s a veritable bargain buck bill!

Here’s the thing: I’m now heading into what is basically foreign territory for me. I’m the first to admit it. I know my way around regular VHS VCRs okay, but here, much of this is all new to me. So, here more than ever, I invite people with the know-how to hit up the comments section, please!

A closer look the front-panel. My pictures actually make things look worse than they are; my AG-1970 is a little dusty, a little dirty, but for the most part it’s in really nice shape. You’re just gonna have to take my word on this. I probably should have wiped it down with something before starting this post, but meh, let’s say it’s in “as found” condition, okay?

This was a “Prosumer” unit. That is, it was commercially available to you and I and Johnny-runs-his-mouth over there, but we couldn’t have just walked into any brick-and-mortar electronics store to get it; no no, from how I understand it, these were available at stores specifically specializing in higher-end electronics. I couldn’t find much info regarding the pricing, but one blurb I saw mentioned it retailing for a whopping $1900! “Pro Line” indeed!

(Also, look close; in this pic, my AG-1970 sits atop my cool Magnavox VCR with the door-flap audio level thing!)

“It’s like a battle station!” – My brother, upon my showing him the contents of the cool fold-down door. The flash on my camera makes this look grimier than it really is.

Open the front panel, and that’s where the magic of the machine is evident. This wasn’t just a VCR for recording and playing a videotape in the best quality (then) possible, this was a legit editing station! With feature upon feature (some of which, I’m first to admit, I don’t know the exact function of), this was the kind of machine you’d want for actual video projects. Even though this was a consumer model, I can see it being viewed as more of an industrial unit by schools, businesses, and the like.

No doubt about it, this thing was a beast. There’s quite a few options for audio preferences, as well as the expected video toggles; I was a little surprised to see the switch for SP or SLP recording, but no LP. When you’re shelling out nearly two grand for a model of this nature, why not give any and all recording outputs possible?

I like the sliding tabs for picture sharpness and headphone jack volume, and the dual sliding tabs for the Hi-Fi audio recording levels.

There’s also a switch labeled “TBC.” No, it’s not a misspelling of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia Motto (alliteration); rather it stands for “Time Base Correction.” This is important: TBC can drastically correct / stabilize the picture of a videotape. Wikipedia has a decent write-up on the feature. Because I’m an admitted neophyte in this area, evidently another, external TBC is needed to get the absolute best picture quality, but honestly, that’s probably heading into a zone I’d never notice much of a difference in. I like a good VHS picture, but I’m not really a full-fledged videophile.

Speaking of which, I duly went about researching this deck upon acquirement. This research took me into legit videophile forums; I mean, there were guys debating aspects of these VCRs that pretty much made my head swim. That’s not a slam on anyone; I’m endlessly impressed with these guys that (seemingly) so effortlessly know all the ins and outs of S-VHS. Anyway, the general consensus seems to be that the AG-1970 was good for its time, but the succeeding AG-1980 is the better unit from an abilities and picture-quality standpoint, though the AG-1970 seems to be more reliably-built.

Hey, you throw an AG-1980 at me for $10, I’ll snap it up with extreme fervor. But until then, I’m going to be happy with my AG-1970.

More coolness as we head to the right. Excuse the glare; the display panel is apparently housed in the most reflective surface in the universe. I dig the cool vertical audio level readouts.

The picture doesn’t show it very well, but the display is actually a bit on the dim side. It’s definitely readable, and if you had the lights out, you could probably see what’s going on from where you sat. But, it really should be brighter than it is; I hope it’s not a power supply issue.

Also: Jog shuttle! I’m a sucker for these things; even when a deck doesn’t really need one, it’s still improved by its presence, as far as I’m concerned. ‘Course, the AG-1970 does need the jog, not only because of the functions it provides but also because it’s the AG-1970 and anything less than a jog shuttle would not be fitting for a machine of this stature.

Okay, so right about here is where I’d have a screenshot of something playing on the AG-1970; show the machine in action. I can’t do that though, and here’s why: The VCR certainly appears to work perfectly, and every function I tested appeared to do its appropriate thing, at least as far as the display, uh, displayed. However, I can’t be sure, because I couldn’t get a picture to show up! Not that I think the machine is broken or anything like that; the counter is telling me that something is being read here.

Y’see, what I’m doing it plugging it into the front jacks of the VCR I have hooked up to the PC; that’s normally how I do my testing with new old decks. BUT, because this Prosumer stuff is all totally new to me, for all I know that could just be all wrong. You experts are gonna have to (nicely) let me know, because I don’t have the manual or the expertise to know what, if anything, I’m doing wrong.

But you know what? Let’s say there’s something wrong with a capacitor or whatever, and that’s why I’m not getting a picture. I almost don’t care, because at $8, the AG-1970 was still a monumental bargain. I can always get it repaired if need be; in fact, I’d rather have it gone over from top to bottom, make sure it’s in full working order, before I start regularly using it.

The back of the unit. Plugs and whatnot, obviously. Actually, I’m a little surprised there’s not more of ’em. There’s the expected antenna jacks, and AV jacks, and the channel selector switch. All pretty par for the course.

The really nice feature is the S-Video outputs and inputs though; was there a higher mode of output than that back in the early-1990s? Was composite video around yet? Super Nintendo had S-Video; that’s gotta count for somethin’!

You’ll notice in the title for the post, I listed the date as “circa-1993.” Near as I can tell from my research, that’s around the time this machine was out. There’s no date on the back of this deck, so yeah, circa-1993.

Final proof this thing was mighty high-end? A big, thick, detachable power cord.

Whether it works correctly or not almost (almost) doesn’t matter; just having the Panasonic AG-1970 S-VHS VCR is enough for me. Look at it up there! Just look at it! It’s not just an S-VHS VCR, it’s a professional S-VHS VCR! It’s heavy duty! It’s feature-packed! It’s built like a tank! And it supposedly has really, really nice picture quality! This thing is my new good friend!

Thanks once again to my pal Jesse for grabbing this VCR for me! It’s a fine addition to my collection! (And fodder for my dumb blog is always nice, too.)

Pioneer Laserdisc Player Model No. LD-V6000A (1989)

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Found, forgotten and dusty in an oft-overlooked secret alcove of Time Traveler last night, my good pal Scott straight up gave me this incredible beast: A Pioneer Laserdisc player, model number LD-V6000A from 1989. It’s admittedly not in sell-able condition (I’ll show why in a moment), or I would have cleaned it up, slapped a price tag on it for Scott and put it out for the world to admire. I certainly don’t need another Laserdisc player, but this is the exact kind of electronic I’m a sucker for.

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The remote is loooong gone, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to fast-forward or rewind from the unit itself. I’d think those would be standard features for a player manufactured as late as 1989, but hell, I don’t know. Compared to VHS and Betamax VCRs, I don’t quite know the history of Laserdisc players as backwards and forwards as I probably should. Which is puzzling, because I’ve got mounds of useless information on pretty much everything else.

A quick internet search on the LD-V6000A brings up multiple mentions of it being an “industrial unit.” Is that a code word for “enormous SOB?” Because that’s what this thing is. Granted, Laserdisc players were never the smallest things in the world, but compared to my other LD units, this guy is somewhat bigger and considerably heavier, undoubtedly because those are consumer models. There go my hopes of using the LD-V6000A as a kite. It’s not as hernia-inducing as my Quasar VCR, but it’s certainly not something you’d want to juggle, either (supposing you were interested in having the world’s most-moronic circus act, that is.)

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See, manufactured in 1989! Did you think I was lying? I wasn’t.

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Somehow I didn’t notice the mention of “industrial” on the back until I was looking at this picture. How did I miss that? I should pay more attention to these things. So, what exactly constitutes an “industrial” Laserdisc player? Is it all the additional doo-dads on the back, heavier casing, A cord you’d need bolt cutters in order to sever? I assume this sort of thing was generally more available to businesses and schools, as opposed to what you could buy at your local electronics store? This is new territory for me, so please explain with patience and understanding, kindly reader.

(That last sentence just may be the most idiotic thing I’ve ever written on this blog.)

Cosmetically, the LD-V6000A isn’t in bad shape at all. A little cleaning and this sucker would be loaded, cocked and ready to rock. So, why wasn’t it suitable to be placed before a hungry public that you just know would be fighting tooth and nail over it?

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Because upon pressing the appropriate button, the disc tray refuses to slide out. Now, I’ve had plenty of vintage electronics with motorized disc trays that nowadays require a little prompting on the user’s part to get movin’. It comes with the territory, and indeed, my second Laserdisc player (which was also my first actual working one) needed a little help to get going in that area. So, the fact that the LD-V6000A’s motorized disc tray isn’t operating at optimal performance isn’t that big of a detriment. A little prying should do the trick…

…Except that isn’t remotely enough. Nope, this disc tray won’t come out for anyone or anything. I mean, it really doesn’t want to work. Something in the mechanism must be full-on broken.

I’m not about to let a mere Laserdisc player dictate what I can and can’t do. So…

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Throwing caution to the wind, I yanked on the tray with all mah might, negligible though my strength may be. And I tell ya, you’ve got to REALLY pull on the tray door before it’ll give up the ghost. Nevertheless, from the picture above, you can see I was successful. Me: 1, LD: 0. Makes me feel like a big man.

In all fairness, I knew all this before I even brought the thing home. We tried it out in the store, ripped the tray out of it’s residence, and so on and so on. And we did put an LD in it, and it did indeed sound as if it ran. So, taxation of my muscles aside, that was a good sign, I guess. Then again, you never really know for sure until you hook it up proper.

The problem there is that I don’t have the right cables to hook it up proper. Scroll back up and look at that pic of the back of the unit. I have AV cables for the audio outputs, but the picture output doesn’t use those. I wasn’t prepared to invest any more time or effort in this thing other than what was immediately available to me. So, I plugged the audio cables into the front of my VCR, figuring that if I heard sound, I’d call it a success.

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There was a good chance that even if the player didn’t work properly beforehand, the sweet, sweet voice of Phil Collins would snap it back into shape right quick. Ideally, I would have busted out my Bruce Springsteen Video Anthology 1978-1988 disc for this purpose, but that would have required back-breakin’ disc diggin’, and my interest in this whole thing was waning far too seriously for that.

Against all odds (get it?! BWAHAWHAWHAW!!!) and to the shock of millions dozens, I did indeed hear the appropriate sounds one would expect from a live Phil Collins Laserdisc. True, I couldn’t see the picture, but it didn’t sound like it was skipping or anything. Cautiously, I’ll file this one under “Workin’, yo.” I’d have never expected it to work, especially considering the motorized tray is all kinds of out-o’-order, but I guess it wasn’t an industrial strength LD player for nothing, huh?

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There it be. It’s kind of a regal beast, ain’t it? Well, maybe “regal” isn’t the right description. I think “imposing” fits better. And what’s more imposing than a Laserdisc player that could easily flatten a car? I think next heavy snow, I’ll find a hill and use this thing as a sled.

Off in the distance, you’ll notice a portrait of Elvis, his visage watching over the LD-V6000A. It’s his birthday today, you know. I promise you I didn’t plan it that way, either. Twas just a happy coincidence.