Blank Discs and Tapes Product Guide

Blank Discs and Tapes

A videotape allows us to see what we please when we want. Blank video tape formats still used today include Betamax, VHS, VHS-C, 8mm, Hi8, Digital 8 and now MiniDV. Need to know more about the types of tapes and speeds? You've come to the right place. With the availability of new CD and DVD home component recorders, blank CDs and DVDs are becoming more popular and may, one day, replace tapes as the popular recording medium.

What type of tape you need depends primarily on what type of VCR, camcorder, or tape deck you may have. You may record on videotape at various speeds. There may be a difference in quality when you record on a certain grade tape. Some of the most well known manufacturers of blank videotape include TDK, Maxell, Sony, Panasonic, and Memorex.



Tape Formats


Recording on videotapes requires that you have a VCR, camcorder, or tape deck. VCRs accept standard VHS videotape. There are slight differences in VCR types like HiFi VCRs and Super VCRs, but all VHS tapes are compatible with all VCRs, though they may be a difference in quality. Camcorders may accept VHS-C tape, 8mm tape, Hi8, Digital8 tape or MiniDV tape, depending on your model. These are the available formats today. Some professional tape decks allow recording too. Other types of tapes include Beta, an older format rarely ever used anymore, and BetaCam, which is a format professional broadcasters use. Below is a table of tape all kinds of tape formats, their compatibility and available lengths.

Format Compatibility Available Lengths in Minutes (SP)
VHS Works with any VCR or VHS camcorders 120, 160, 180, 200
VHS-C Will play and record in VHS-C camcorders 30, 45
8mm For 8mm camcorders or 8mm tape decks 30, 60, 90, 120
Hi8 Works with Hi8, 8mm and Digital8 camcorders and tape decks 30, 60, 90, 120
Digital8 Will work with Sony Digital8 camcorders. Can be used with other analog 8mm camcorders, but quality will not be digital 30, 60, 90, 120
MiniDV For MiniDV camcorders and decks only 60, 80
Betamax Will play and record on Betamax VCRs and decks 180


Speeds



Speed
Original Tape
Minutes
SP LP SLP/EP
30 30 45 60
60 60 75 90
80 80 95 110
90 90 110 120
120 120 240 360
160 160 320 480
180 180 360 540
200 200 400 600

There are three standard speeds for recording on videotape: Standard Play (SP), Long Play (LP), and Super Long Play (SLP) or Extended Play (EP). Most current model VCR's have only SP and SLP or EP speeds. Older model VCRs have all three speeds. On a camcorder, you may find two or more speeds as well. Recording on a longer speed allows you to fit more on one tape. The length of a tape does not vary, what changes is how the recorded material fits onto a single tape. If it's recording fast, it covers most of the tape in less time. If it records slow, it uses as much of the tape in longer time. To get the best quality picture, recording on SP mode is suggested. The slower the speed of a recording the more crammed up the information is on one single tape, and the worse the quality of the image. But nevertheless, many find it very convenient to be able to fit six hours or more on one single T-120 tape. Videotapes have the ability to hold a specific amount of recorded material on different speeds. Here is a simple chart with tape types, and speeds and how much recorded material they can hold in minutes.



Tape Grades


A grade of a tape refers to the quality in which it was produced. More technically, it refers to the actual makeup of the metallics in videotape which effects sensitivity. A higher-grade tape is more sensitive to detail, and while it picture quality may not be noticeable from one look, in the long run, the difference is obvious - less noise. Standard grade videotape is good enough for any VCR or camcorder. Other grades include high grade and extra high grade. Below is a list of some grade abbreviations.

Abbreviation Description Uses
HS High Standard Use with any type VCR.
HF High Fidelity (HiFi) Works best with HiFi VCRs. Compatible with all VCRs.
HG High Grade A high grade tape is better than standard. No major noticeable difference.
EHG Extra High Grade Will record a little more detail than high grade.
HD High Definition HD tapes record are more sensitive.
DV Digital Video DV tapes work best with digital recordings like from Digital Satellite.
SPX Super Pro These tapes should be used with Super VHS units.
XRS High Resolution Use these tapes for a crisper picture
MP Metal Particle This is a high quality tape by Maxell for 8mm recordings.


Discs


Unlike tapes discs don't have to be rewound. They are recorded and played using a digital process. There is virtually no surface noise that could affect audio or video integrity.

Unlike tapes, a disc has a set capacity of recording time for audio and video recordings and that is determined by bits of information. A CD (Compact Disc) holds about 700 million bits and a DVD (Digital Virtual Discs) holds about 4.7 billion bits of information. Video uses more information than audio.

Discs may be recorded at different speeds but, unlike tapes, speed has no affect on the overall quality of the recording. Instead, it deals with how fast the recording can be made. Suppose you have a recording that's 80 minutes long. With tapes, it might take 80 minutes to record a copy. With discs, it could take only 40 minutes, or 20, or 10, or 5, or less. The actual speed is determined by the disc's speed certification and the recording speed capability of your equipment.

Though CDs and DVD may come in different sizes and capacities, the typical CD and DVD appear identical. You can't, however, record a CD in a DVD recorder and you can't record a DVD in a CD recorder.

Tape quality can degrade with shelf time and are sensitive to excess heat, light, and moisture. A disc is far less vulnerable to environmental elements and is believed to have the capability of faithful storage for about 100 years. Those discs that can be recorded over many times, , may be capable of accepting 1,000 overwrites without losing any sound or image integrity.



CDR and CDRW


A CD (Compact Disc) can hold up to 700,000,000 bits (MB) of information or about 80 minutes of music. It can hold about 20 minutes of video but isn't the popular media for recording video. It is popular, however, for recording still images. Many film processing labs can take your pictures and record them onto a recordable CD. Some digital cameras have video output cables that permit transfer of images for recording on a VCR or CD recorder. With images of 2 or 3 megapixel resolutions, you can store 200 to 300 images per CD. A majority of the recordable CDs may also be played on virtually any CD player. There are two types of recordable CDs - CDR and CDRW.

CDR means that this disc may only be recorded once. Unlike tape, you can't record more than once on a CDR. A CDR that holds 700MB or 80 minutes of music is called CDR80. An older 650MB format (or 74 minutes of music) is called CDR74.

CDRW means that this CD is rewriteable or may be recorded several times. The CDRW disc is more popular among computer users than home CD recorders but is becoming more popular. It can only be recorded on a CDRW compatible recorder for multiple recordings. Most CDRW discs hold 700MB or 80 minutes of music and are referred as CDRW80.

CDR and CDRW discs may have a rating that might say "Certified up to 24x". The 'x' refers to a speed of data transfer, 150,000 bits per second (150KB). This is used when copying one CD to another. If you were recording at 2x, it would take about 40 minutes to record an 80-minute CD. If you were recording at 4x, it would take about 20 minutes to record an 80-minute CD. You must check whether your recorder has that capability and at how many 'x'.



DVD


A typical DVD (Digital Virtual Disc) holds up to 4,700,000,000 (GB) of information. That's the equivalent of more than 7 CDR80s. As such, these are used for recording movies because they can easily store over 2 hours of audio/video per disc. There are some DVDs that can hold as much as 9.2 billion bits of information, though not as readily available.

Like recordable CDs, there are two types of DVD recordable discs. DVDR may only be recorded once. DVDRW may be recorded many times (RW means rewriteable). Unlike CDs, not all recordable DVDs will play in all DVD players. That's because there were many different standards of DVDs over the years. DVD-R and DVD-RW is different than DVD+R and DVD+RW. The DVD+ format may be played on virtually any DVD player but, in order to do so, must be recorded on a DVD+ compatible DVD recorder. DVD- may play on almost every DVD player made in the last two years but may not be recorded on a DVD+ recorder/player. In buying DVD recordable discs, please make sure whether your DVD recorder is a DVD- (DVD-R/DVD-RW) or DVD+ (DVD+R/DVD+RW) compatible.



Disc Packaging


Unlike tapes, discs don't have to be rewound. They are recorded and played using a digital process. Though many discs are sold in individual packs with a plastic case (often referred as a Jewelcase), you'll find that many bulk packs (packs of 20 or more discs) do not include individual cases. Instead they are sold in spindle packs or cakeboxes, where the discs are stacked on a central spindle. It's advisable to look at disc storage accessories to store and protect your discs.

We recommend these disc holders:





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