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DVD vs VCR in the Classroom Setting Essay

The advent of technology keeps introducing new ways and means of learning. Since the late 1970’s, the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) has dominated not only the home entertainment market but is being extensively used in classrooms for learning purposes. The last decade of 20th century however witnessed the video hardware and software manufacturers in developing a digital format to replace videocassettes. The hardware manufacturers led by Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic worked jointly to produce a new single standard and the result was in the shape of DVD (digital video disc or digital versatile disc).

The DVD encompassed many advance features than its predecessor and slowly but gradually is replacing VCR in all spheres of the society. However, the market and the libraries are still housing large collection of video tapes and it will take sometime before the end users completely convert over to the digital format. On the other hand, VCR has great advantage of simple recording facility but it is perceived that the enormous advantages which the DVD offers in terms of user friendly features, audio and video quality, and durability will let the VCR disappear from markets, homes and schools in near future.

In terms of the recording facility, there is still no match to the VCR. The process is so simple and convenient that a user only has to put in a VHS tape and press the recording button. The new versions of VCR also offer pre-programming the VCR to begin recording at a set time and date. DVD on the other hand proves to be a bit more challenging. The simple DVD player does not offer the recording facility. Lately, DVD manufacturers have introduced the commercial version of DVD-R/RW but it costs much more than the VHS and is not very user friendly as well (Gandal and Greenstein 97-99).

However, when comparing DVD and VCR in the classroom settings, there is hardly any requirement of using the recording facility. Moreover, the simple recording facility of VHS tape has the risk of being accidentally recorded over. Hence the advantage of VCR over DVD in terms of simple and cheaper recording gets nullified. The DVD player offers great features in contrast to VCR. In the classroom settings, there is mostly the requirement of play back and for this purpose VCR generally includes functions like play, fast forward, rewind and pause.

In this regard, DVD player offers much more and diverse utilities including the simple functions of VCR and the additional features like scene/chapter selection, progressive scan and zoom function. With DVD player, there is no requirement of rewinding the cassette and waiting for 10-15 minutes before the start of the tape is reached. The most favorite feature of teachers is the chapter select, which make it very easy to jump to a spot on the DVD that they would like to use in their lessons, thus saving significant classroom time that was formerly spent fast-forwarding and rewinding.

In the limited time available in the classroom, DVD player is much more suited than the VCR. Another great feature of DVD is its portability. Even with much advancement in technology, VCR is still big and heavier than a DVD player that is getting smaller and handy with each passing day. This feature allows convenient movement of DVD player and the DVDs from one place to another. When comparing audio/video recording and playback quality, VCR stands no where near to DVD.

The audio/video quality of VHS tape is relatively limited and inferior to DVD. The picture quality generated by DVD player is superb and unmatchable with VCR. More so, when connected to a good audio system and Dolby Digital Surround, the audio effects produced by DVD are simply stunning (Saloner and Shepard 479-480). In terms of durability, the DVD outclasses the VCR as well. The VHS video tape tends to wear out with many repeated plays. The video tape also has a tendency to crack or break and often gets jammed into the player’s mechanisms.

DVDs are also susceptible to damage but these do not wear out with repeated plays. When stuck into the system, it is very easy to pullout the DVD as compared to the VCR which requires to be opened. Moreover, VHS tape is heavily affected by dampness and humidity whereas a DVD remains unaffected by the hazards unless exposed to extreme temperatures or strong magnetic fields. According to the latest estimates, over 90% of the nation’s classrooms have VHS VCRs and the school libraries are filled with VHS collections (VHS or DVD, par. 5).

The advancement in technology has presented with an alternative to VHS which has several advantages in terms of user friendly features, quality and durability. Despite enormous benefits offered by the DVD, it is a very expensive proposition to change over from VHS to the digitized format. The next five to ten years are considered to be the transition period in which schools will gradually adopt the new technology. For the same reason, educationally oriented producers are still releasing VHS format and they are likely to continue with this practice for at least next five years.

Works Cited Gandal, N. and Greenstein, S. “Expanding Market for DVD. ” Journal of Industrial Economics. XLVII (1999): 97-99. Saloner, G. and Shepard, A. “Adoption of Technologies: An Empirical Examination of the Adoption of Digital Recording Format. ” RAND Journal of Economics. 26 (2001): 479-480. “VHS or DVD – Which Should I Buy. ” Library Video. 2006. December 22, 2006. http://www. libraryvideo. com/articles/article19. asp


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