21 October 2020

Reupload - Paul Curtis - Video 2000


Futuristic synth blast aiming to promote flop video recording unit

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1979, at a guess?

"Video 2000! What were all that about then, eh?" are words which Peter Kay has almost certainly never, ever started any stand-up routine with. In the video recorder revolution, Video 2000 was the Oric Atmos to VHS's ZX Spectrum and Betamax's Commodore 64, or perhaps the Liberal Democrats to VHS's Tory and Betamax's Labour, or... oh, I don't know, why don't you think of some rubbish and poorly fitting analogies for yourselves?

The simple fact is that I have never, ever met in my life anyone who owned a Video 2000 machine. I knew of their existence, but everyone owned either VHS or Beta machines, and rued the day they chose Beta when that format eventually bit the dust (my family, to their eternal regret, were relatively late Betamax adopters). Video 2000 machines may as well have been ghostly myths in my neck of the woods in Essex - I don't think I even saw a player for sale in the local Dixons or Currys. Apparently they were superior to the VHS and Betamax formats in almost all ways, from sound to picture quality to tape durability, but this cut little ice with the buying public, and the format was junked in 1986 to precious few tears.

Still, this synthetic promotional single from the late seventies gives you some idea of the kind of excitement Philips wanted to generate around Video 2000. The sleeve appears to show the player arriving in a blur from outer space, like some kind of alien tech us privileged humanoids had managed to acquire from the ashes of Roswell. The single backs this image up with dramatic whooshing noises, hyperactive slapped basslines, and the kind of synthesiser melody favoured by the Channel 4 Testcard in 1982 and the opening credits of short-lived science fiction series (probably with the face of each actor freeze-framed as their name appears on screen). But above all else, it sounded like the FUTURE. Or at least, it did at that time.

"You can't beat the system, no no no!" sing some soulful ladies, before backing this up with an even more ecstatic line about the player's fantastic ability to record many more televisual hours than its boring VHS or Betamax rivals, and with a 16 day pre-record clock facility. Trouble is, Video 2000 couldn't beat the market system, no no, and indeed, no. For reasons of timing (it was launched after the other formats) and distribution, it just didn't capture the public's imagination, and it would have taken a lot more than a slightly funky promotional synth single to put that right.

Still, in a funny kind of way, I am glad this exists, just because everyone needs the space for one chirpy disco record about defunct recording technology in their lives.

Can't access the previews below? Go right to the source. 


Carlton B Morgan said...

My family towned one, after a few years it went wrong and we could not get it repaired as no parts support so got VHS which was noticeably cruddier (tracking problems, couldn't turn tape over etc)

23 Daves said...

My famlly had a Betamax, Carlton, and while that wasn't quite so bad, when it finally conked out we had to buy a VHS instead. Which was less good, I have to add - fuzzier pictures, crappier sound.

Never witnessed a Video 2000 machine in action, but I suspect the final battle really should have been between that format and Betamax in a fair world.

anonymous UK said...

My Father owned one and the local video shop had a good selection of Video 2000 movies for rent. When the shop finally closed down; my Father bought many of the movies to use as blank tapes.

Mark G said...

I used to work at a factory that produced pre-recorded Video 2000 cassettes.

Picture and Sound Quality-wise, they were way above VHS and Betamax.

The Video Cassettes were two-sided, like audio cassettes. Unfortunately, they were more fragile and were prone to break (The flap which only needed to lift one way on VHS/Betamax, had to go either way on V2000.

Also, it was more expensive. High end - the sort of thing people would not baulk at nowadays, but then again the more modern systems have fewer/no moving parts, so it's all in the equipment graveyard.

(I still use my Minidisc set-ups though, it's still in demand!)

Andrew said...

I don't remember Video 2000 but do recall a previous format. In the late '70s, the library at Leicester Poly had several N1500 machines, each costing, in today's money, around £4,500.