DV and MiniDV tape Decks

Note this list may be out of date; don't rely on it too heavily. Oct. 2005 jpb

If you are looking for a very cheap deck, you should be aware that the cheapest digital video recorder with firewire (IEEE 1394) is a MiniDV or Digital8 camera, starting around $300 mailorder. Digital 8 cameras use 8mm or Hi8 tapes at 2x speed (only), and don't read MiniDV (so you have to connect it to your camera via firewire), and the tape transport is slow, but they do work. See my Digital 8 page. MiniDV cameras of course use MiniDV tape. By contrast, the VCR units listed below are true dedicated tape decks.

The Panasonic AG-DV2000 is a DV/MiniDV VCR, now selling (April 2000) for slightly more than a TRV900. The full-sized DV tape can run 123 minutes in SP mode, or about 3 hours in LP mode. It can also play DVCAM tapes, and includes a firewire interface. Several TRV900 owners have them and are happy with it. Here is a review of it from Mike M. There is also a less expensive Panasonic AG-DV1000 which plays only the MiniDV size tapes. These decks are described on the Panasonic Broadcast/Pro webpage.

The JVC HR-DVS1 is now available from videoguys.com. It is two decks in one, combining MiniDV and SVHS VCR decks (with firewire), and can dub from one tape format to the other. It takes MiniDV only (not full-sized DV). Two users in Europe report good results with it and the TRV900, including SP and LP mode. JVC has a page in japanese about it and here is a user review.

The JVC SR-VS10 is apparently a combination MiniDV and VHS deck. I saw it listed at Armato's for $1600.

The JVC BR-DV600U (from JVC Professional division) has component I/O and RS-422 as well as firewire and Y/C (s-video) connectors. It uses MiniDV size tape only. It is about $2700 from avexpert.com.

Sony makes the DHR-1000 DV/MiniDV deck but I don't know much about it. profeel sells it among others. The Sony DSR-20, DSR-30, and DSR-40 are DVCAM decks which can also play back DV and MiniDV. List price $3800, $4800 and $4900 respectively. Note: the DSR-20 will pass an analog input out to firewire on the fly, with the right menu setting (DV EE OUT), and like most firewire decks will go the other way too. It can be run off 12V DC power as well. (thanks Ken Kortge and Jesse Lapin-Bertone) The newer Sony DSR-11 ($2600 list) has analog in/out switchable between PAL and NTSC (not a standards converter, but will generate proper analog from either PAL or NTSC-encoded DVCAM or DV tapes.)

The small, portable Sony GV-D300 and GV-D900 decks take MiniDV tape only. Street prices are around $1100 and $1600 respectively. You can read my review of the D900 here.

Sony makes a MiniDV deck that fits in a 5.25" computer bay, the DRV-100 which B&H sells for about $1000. There is also a DVCAM deck, the DRV-1000 selling for about $1700.

There are several Digital VHS (DVHS) decks on the market, such as the Panasonic PV-HD1000 and Hughes HDR-205. These record MPEG2 format video from digital satellite transmissions, and are not compatible with DV or MiniDV in any way.

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