Written by: Jens Peterson & Vanessa Boucher
ARE VCRs STILL MADE?
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Are VCRs still made?”, the answer is no. Funai Electric made the very last one in July 2016 – a big turning point in home movie history. They stopped production due to poor sales, and since then no new VCRs have been introduced to the market.
Buy a VCR from the Experts
You can buy used and fairly new VHS players from most of the major websites you probably think of first, like Amazon or Craiglist – even Facebook.
When you’re less price sensitive and truly looking to buy from a trusted professional, we recommend three sites, in no particular order.
Established in 2003, Porter Electronics is a major reseller and all the items on their site are in stock. Not only do they pride themselves on stocking discontinued and impossible to find electronics, they offer a 90-day exchange guarantee to their customers.
You can find everything from $689 VHS player/recorders that are compatible with PAL and SECAM to a $130 RCA Hi-Fi VCR o and more!
In business for over 20 years, Southern Advantage goes beyond discontinued VHS players and also stocks and repairs formats like Digital 8, Betamax and more. You’re either buying unused, factory sealed electronics from surplus auctions, or fully-refurbished and used items that have undergone meticulous diagnostics.
From their main products page, search by type, brand, format and even system signal like PAL. You’ll find everything from $1200 S-VHS to Mini-DV VCRs to DVD recorder/VCR combos.
For the true enthusiast of all things broadcast equipment and beyond, this is the premiere site to consign or trade your audiovisual equipment. Their service department can help with all makes and models and it doesn’t matter if they’re digital, analog or HD.
The broadcaststore.com category list is an indicator of their extensive expertise which includes the basics like monitors and displays but also video encoding systems, systems integrations and more.
Search VCR in the all categories list and you’ll find 850 results that contains everything from a HDV VCR to a PAL ¾” VCR, even Betacam VCR parts.
There’s an extensive amount of detail in all of their listings so you’ll need some technical knowledge and you should know what you’re looking for before you get there so you don’t get overwhelmed with options.
Tips for Shopping Online
Because we frequently digitize all formats of videotapes that we need equipment for, we know how to navigate our way through buying a VCR that’s in good condition. Follow these extra tips for a safe and easy online purchase through personal sellers:
- Check the seller’s ratings in the Marketplace and on eBay. Avoid sellers with low ratings, and read their feedback from other buyers. Sellers CAN hide their ratings in the Facebook Marketplace, but that’s another sign that you should steer clear.
- Keep your initial contact concise. Ask if the VCR is still for sale and whether it includes accessories like cables. Scouring the internet for the right accessories can take all the fun out of your vintage VCR purchase. Let the seller know when you can meet, and make your counter-offer right away if you don’t want to pay full price. Vendors get TONS of inquiries, and avoiding a lot of back-and-forth messaging makes everyone’s lives easier.
- Be polite, patient and fair. You’re dealing with (mostly) normal people – not retail chains or e-commerce sites that need your business. You’ll also have to meet them face-to-face if you want that VHS player, so be respectful. Give them time to respond to your messages, and don’t ambush them with an absurdly low offer at the last minute. Sellers can rate their buyers, too!
- Guard your private information. Have cash ready and wait to pay until you’re actively picking up the VCR, don’t pay in advance or give out credit card information unless purchasing directly through a reputable online platform.
- Try to meet in a public place. And test the VCR in person before you pay for it. This step does require other gear (a TV, a VHS tape, cables and a power source) that might not be easy to set up in a public parking lot. Consider bringing a power adapter that plugs into your car and has enough outlets for the VCR and a small TV.
Find a Free VHS Player Online
Lots of spring cleaners and downsizers just want their stuff gone. They don’t want to advertise, haggle or spend their nights responding to Craigslist inquiries.
If you’re lucky, you can snag a free VCR through Freecycle or these other online communities. Most of these sites prohibit any sales and exist solely to keep unwanted items out of landfills.
You’ll find lots of these sites at the link above and we won’t get into the specifics of each one. There’s a chance that your free VHS player won’t work or come with all the parts. But with time and some technical know-how, you could be reliving those old home movies without spending a dime.
Places You Probably Won’t Find VCRs
Retail and big box stores don’t carry tape decks these days. Demand is low since VHS is no longer the ruling movie format. Most stores would rather sell you a player for the DVDs and Blu-Ray discs they stock.
You might think to go VCR hunting in pawn shops but think again. Consignment stores want items with resale value, and a heavy box that plays obsolete video formats doesn’t always make the cut.
If you’re wary of purchasing used equipment online, check thrift shops like Savers who accept everything and keep their prices low.
If you’re not ready to break up with tapes, or maybe you want to convert your movies to digital, then you’re in luck. VCRs and VHS tapes are still for sale in the online marketplace.
Familiar Sites to Buy VHS Players Online
There’s still time! Right now you can find VCRs for sale through a number of online communities and virtual vendors. You can even search for ‘VCR’ on these sites and filter your search results by price, user ratings and sometimes location.
These options do come with a bit more risk. Private sellers aren’t held to the same standards as big corporations like Wal-Mart. Keep reading for tips and tricks on how to nab a working VCR and enjoy your home movies again!
Yes, Amazon IS a big company, but much of the merch on its site actually comes from third-party sellers. Search for VCR player Amazon has you covered. You’ll find results from big brands like Panasonic and JVC. But always remember to take a closer look.
Most (if not all) of the VHS players listed are sold by small businesses that repair and resell used gear. You can definitely find working VCRs here, but be sure to do your homework and only buy from a seller that’s earned positive feedback and product reviews.
Filter by brand and price like you’re shopping for something brand new and if you’re lucky, the VHS player you want will be eligible for Prime.
This online auction house can be a solid tool for finding VCRs at a great price. Ebay even posted a helpful article with tips on how to find VHS players with the best picture and audio quality. If you’re looking for a specific brand of VCR decks, you can sort by brand on the left.
Lots of these listings give you the option to “Buy It Now,” but you might get a better deal if you’re willing to outbid other users by the auction deadline. You can even sort by “ending soonest.”
Like Amazon, ebay lets you review previous buyers’ feedback on a seller. Look for merchants that not only have good scores, but have consistently gotten high ratings over multiple transactions.
While Craigslist can be a great resource, the lack of user profiles and buyer feedback means you should be wary of scams and the process becomes a bit murkier.
Search for VCR or VHS player and you may find some listings in the For Sale or Free Stuff categories. If you strike out there, you could also look at listings for local yard sales or estate sales. These tend to have a lot of randomly interesting and vintage items people just want to get rid of.
Facebook launched this service in late 2016. It’s like Craigslist with the added perks of being able to check sellers’ profiles and interact through Facebook Messenger. When checking a sellers Facebook profile, look for red flags like five or less friends, no profile picture or no status updates. Some users do adjust their privacy settings to hide this information, so don’t panic just because someone’s details are private.
To access the Facebook marketplace, there is an option for it on the left hand side of your dashboard when you’re on a computer. It will automatically pull up your location and you can search VCR or VHS player.
Adjust the price range and distance to you to find the best options for your VCR purchase.
What to Do With Your New(ish) VCR
Your VHS player is the key to enjoying lots of old memories, including home movies and any Hollywood films from years ago. Here are just a few things you can do with your new old technology:
- Watch your standard VHS tapes with the family. Here are some ways to do that beyond buying a vcr.
- If you bought a lemon, you could try to repair and resell it
- Use a cassette adapter to play your smaller VHS-C tapes
- Convert old home movies to digital – click here to learn how!
Your VHS tapes won’t last forever, so relive those memories – or better yet, digitize them – while you still can. Have another great place to buy a vcr or vhs player? Let us know!