Video film types
VHS - “Video Home System”
VHS - FULL SIZE
There are three main types of video cassette used by the general public.
By far the most common is the VHS cassette full size, which was typically a 120, 180, or 240 minute duration with the option to extend this to long play and so double the footage length at the expense of an already average film quality. Pictured on the right is the standard VHS cassette.
VHS-C tapes carry the same type of tape as in the full size cassette, however the smaller size means reduced footage length, these are usually 30 or 45 minute duration. Quite often we find these cassettes hold better quality film as they were the original tapes used in the large shoulder mounted camcorders of the early 1980s. As such they have only been used once and been well looked after. The tapes are shown here at roughly the same scale.
In order to play a VHS-C in a VHS cassette player you would need an adapter (left) which is powered by to AA batteries. The tape is inserted into the adaptor, the internal motor wound the tape onto the spools and then the assembly could be inserted into a VHS cassette player as standard.
Several improved versions of VHS exist, most notably Super-VHS (S-VHS), an analogue video standard with improved video bandwidth. S-VHS improved the luminance resolution to 400 horizontal per picture height (versus 250 for VHS/Beta and 500 for DVD). The audio-system (both linear and AFM) is the same. S-VHS made little impact on the home market, but gained dominance in the camcorder market due to its superior picture quality.
This is another variant of the VHS tape. Carrying the same higher quality tape as the Super VHS, the Super VHS-C was mostly used in camcorders in the early to late 1980s. A further development of this tape became the Hi8 tape (see camcorder page).
Betamax (colloquially termed Beta) is an obsolete home videocassette tape recording format developed by Sony, and released on May 10, 1975. The cassettes contained 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) wide videotape.
The "Betamax" name came from a double meaning: beta being the Japanese word used to describe the way signals were recorded onto the tape, and from the fact that when the tape ran through the transport it looked like the Greek letter "Beta" (β). The suffix -max came from "maximum" to suggest greatness.
Sanyo marketed a version as Betacord, but this was also referred to casually as "Beta". Betamax and VHS competed in a fierce format war which saw VHS come out on top in most markets.