South West England Vintage Television Museum
The Video 2000 Format

Updated: 7th Spetember 2006

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Introduction:

Video 2000 was developed jointly by Philips and Grundig as a replacement for their ageing VCR, VCR-LP and SVR format machines and as a direct competitor to VHS and BETA.  It boasted a flip-over cassette fractionally bigger than a VHS cassette, which could record up to 4 hours on each side. It also used a system of "Automatic" tracking with it's Dynamic Track Following (DTF) system. This meant that the tracking was always 100% perfect even on still pause and picture search modes. It achieved this by having the video heads mounted on piezo electric actuators which followed the tracks as they were scanned.

The first Video 2000 format machine from Philips was the VR2020 of 1980. This was a pretty basic machine even by 1980 standards, but it sold in reasonable numbers. The first Grundig V2000 machine was the model 700 "2x4", which was launched at pretty much the same time*. The Grundig machine was slightly smaller and lighter than the Philips, but had a virtually identical basic set of features.

Superficially the first generation Philips Video 2000 machines resembled their earlier relatives, the VCR and VCR-LP machines (N1500, N1700 etc.) They were roughly the same size and weight as their older relatives and had the same "slopey front" styling, however, inside they were far more advanced. The new machines were operated with all-electronic soft-touch buttons, and a microprocessor was used to control the tape transport, the clock, the counter and the timer. All the machines featured a "Goto" button whereby a specific tape-counter number could dialled in and the machine would speed off and find it. There was a problem with this because the tape had to have been initially rewound to the beginning if the counter was to be relied on to find a specific program. If the counter had gone backwards beyond zero or had gone past 9999, then the machine would wind the tape the wrong way to get to the specific number. Although none of the VR2020, VR2021 or VR2022 had a remote control facility as standard, they could all be converted to remote control with a box that plugged into the back of the machine and a little infra-red receiver which clipped into the front.

Of the Philips VR2020 there were several badge engineered versions from manufacturers such as ITT, Pye etc. Bang and Olufsen made a version of the VR2020 called the 8800, but this looked significantly different from the Philips original. It had a remote control receiver built in as standard, but, strangely, it also had a modified audio response to suit B&O's then current range of televisions.etc.

Soon after the VR2020 came the Philips VR2021 and VR2022.  Although the VR2021 had an identical feature set to the VR2020, it had more in common electronically with the VR2022 which had extra "Trick-play" facilities such as noise-free picture search and still pause.  These two newer machines also used much nicer looking chrome on the front panel instead of aluminium which tended to corrode easily. There was briefly a stereo version of the VR2022 called the VR2022S but this was only available in certain European countries and not in the UK.

Next came the VR2023 and VR2024.  These machines resembled the 3 Philips Video 2000 machines before them, although some of the timer controls were now covered by a little flap and the search and still pause (and an extra slow-motion button) were on separate buttons below the standard controls. These two new machines also featured a remote control interface as standard. The difference between the VR2023 and the VR2024 was that the latter model was a linear stereo version of the VR2023, making it the first (universally-available) stereo Video 2000 machine. Philips soon discovered a problem with the front panels of these two machines: the microprocessor that controlled the buttons would sometimes lock-up if two buttons were pressed in quick succession which meant that if the problem occurred, the machine had to be unplugged from the mains for a few seconds before any further commands could be given.

The next Philips Video 2000 machine to appear was the VR2025 and this was to be Philips' first front loading Video 2000 machine.  However, it was merely a Grundig "2x4 Stereo" with a slightly different colour scheme and a Philips badge.  No real attempt was made to disguise this machine; it even had the classic Grundig unfathomable timer, and peculiar tape transport legends such as "Tape" which meant "Stop" and "Cassette" which meant "Eject". 

Later came a second generation of Philips Video 2000 machines including a battery operated portable model.  These were all much smaller than their first generation relatives and culminated in Philips' top models, the VR2350 "Matchline" and the VR2840 which featured linear stereo audio and a long-play mode (XL or eXtra-Long) to provide a staggering 16 hours from a single tape, before the format was discontinued in 1985.

As a point of interest, Grundig made a very cheap Video 2000 machine (model 1600) which didn't have Dynamic Track Following at all, instead it used an "automatic tracking" system like many VHS machines of the day. This was okay to replay tapes recorded on itself but was famously awful when it came to replaying tapes recorded on another machine.

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