VHS tapes are part of the shared history of anyone born before the year 2000. For decades, these tapes contained our favorite films, TV shows, home videos and much more. In the last 10 years, the world has seen dramatic advancements in home media.
DVDs first eclipsed VHS, and now Blu-ray is swiftly replacing DVD. Our old VCRs and DVD players have grown obsolete, but the media remains. DVD/VCR combo players bridge the technological gap between generations, allowing us to watch and archive our shared history.
To this end, Philips created the Philips DVD/VCR Player DVP3345VB/F7. This unit contains all the trusted and familiar features of VCR and DVD players of days gone by, plus a few extra features to make it compatible with today's high-tech devices. This unit earned our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award for DVD/VCR combos.
In a world where home televisions have a life span of less than a decade, new televisions in most homes display images in high definition. This rich picture quality simply didn't exist when DVD and VHS tapes were designed. Therefore, the Philips DVD/VCR player transmits a standard definition signal. However, the unit contains progressive scan technology to improve standard-definition images.
This feature essentially doubles the resolution of standard-definition images, making them suitable for viewing on a high-definition television or monitor. The Philips DVD/VCR Player lacks the additional feature of 1080p upscaling, which converts a standard-definition signal into a HD stream. The progressive scan by itself is acceptable, but including the upscaling feature would have made the Philips DVD/VCR player a more complete and modern device.
DVDs and VHS tapes are the stars of the show on the Philips DVD/VCR player. However, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that this device also plays a number of other disc-based media. The DVD slot is compatible with compact discs from your music collection. In addition, the DVD portion of the device supports rewriteable disc media including CD-R/CD-RW, DVD-R/-RW, DVD+R/+RW and CD/SVCD.
On any home-media player, the picture is only half the story. A good DVD/VCR combo player should have a solid sound system. Philips included support for Dolby Digital sound on the Philips DVD/VCR Player. This is crucial because almost all Hollywood films contain form of Dolby sound. Furthermore, this DVD/VCR combo is compatible with surround-sound systems so you can get the full audio experience the studios intended you to have.
For decades, a four-head hi-fi VCR was the top of line in home entertainment. Such technology comprises the entirety of the VCR aspect of the Philip DVD/VCR Player. Manufacturers perfected this method of playback years ago, and almost nothing has changed for this iteration of the technology except for the natural miniaturization of the components. All VHS tapes in playable condition will work in this device.
The last major home video release on VHS was in 2006. Therefore, good deals of surviving VHS tapes are wearing thin. Philips realizes this and designed this device to hold the picture for three minutes when you pause a video cassette in the Philips DVD/VCR Player, after which it automatically stops playback to prevent further wear on aging tapes.
There is no two-way dubbing feature on the Philips DVD/VCR Player. This is an unfortunate omission on an otherwise great product. No two-way dubbing means that you can't burn the content on VHS tapes to DVDs. Unless it's stored in ideal conditions (and sometimes not even then), magnetic tape won't last forever. Now that VHS tapes are on their last leg, it would behoove Philips to provide a mechanism for archiving the content of VHS tapes in a digital format.
There is a reason that the Philips DVD/VCR Player ranked third among our three award-winning products, and it's the omission of three key features. We've mentioned two of them previously in this review – upscaling and two-way dubbing. The third omission that kept our Gold award out of Philips' hands is this unit's lack of an HDMI port. Any television built in the last five years uses HDMI as its primary connection port. Why Philips left this out is a mystery.
However, every other connectivity option we looked for when we ranked DVD/VCR combos is present on this device, including a digital tuner. This feature allows the Philips DVD/VCR Player to capture digital over-the-air broadcast signals and display them on your television or monitor. This is a useful feature since most older televisions contain analog tuners that were rendered obsolete in 2009 when the U.S. switched to digital broadcast signals.
Other conventional connection options on the back panel of the Philips DVD/VCR Player include coaxial, component and S-Video. While none of these is capable of carrying an HD signal, they are perfectly compatible with most HD televisions and all standard-definition monitors on the market today.
A company as large and old as Philips naturally has an established customer-support apparatus in place. Philips' customer support is exactly what you would expect from a company this size. Phone, email and online support options are easy to find and readily available. Friendly and informed representatives answered our all questions quickly, accurately and politely.
The Philips DVD/VCR Player DVP3345VB/F7 is an excellent unit for playing DVDs and VHS cassette tapes. Its progressive scan technology produces a crisp picture, and the Dolby Digital sound support carries rich sound. Both features combine to create an excellent viewing experience. We were a bit disappointed that the player did not include 1080p upconversion technology, an HDMI port or two-way dubbing. Had these three technologies been included, this player might have claimed our top spot.