Mitsubishi HS-MD3000 medical VCR
This VCR has all the features of a high end consumer-grade machine like Super-VHS capability with Expansion Technology, Hi-Fi audio, jog dial for accurate playback and editing, flying erase head, digital Y/C separation, digital noise reduction. It also has an RS-232 connector and a USB port.
For someone who wants to convert analog videos into digital form, the most prized feature of this machine is a built-in time base corrector (TBC), allowing to dub or digitize a tape with the highest quality.
Mitsubishi HS-MD3000 is a VHS videotape recorder, designed to capture images of medical examinations.
Besides recording visualization of ultrasound scanning also known as sonography, the Mitsubishi HS-MD3000 can be connected to equipment performing endoscopy, MRI or CT scan.
Recording pretty pictures of medical exams is a lucrative business, so other companies produce medical recorders as well. Even Sony, the inventor or Betamax, offered a Super VHS machine. After analog tape ran its course, these recorders were decommissioned, and they can be seen on eBay now.
Unlike a broadcast machine, it has no genlock input to synchronize with other video equipment, and it cannot interface with an editing console. Unlike consumer-grade VCRs, it has no TV tuner, no timer and scheduling, and no wireless remote control.
It is possible to use a wired remote. Also, recording can be started and stopped with a foot switch. There is an RS-232 connector and a USB port for connecting external equipment.
The machine can operate in Super VHS mode, which offers 60% more detail than standard VHS. Pitiful chroma resolution of the ancient domestic videotape format is not important for images that are predominantly black and white.
The VCR can record with higher resolution not only on special SVHS tape, but on regular tape as well. This feature, known as SVHS-ET, was introduced in 1998. Regarding the dates of production, the earliest booklet I found about this VCR is dated 2002, the latest — 2016.
Blending 1970s analog video with 21-st century digital technologies, this VCR offers a slew of digital enhancements.
Digital Y/C separation can be activated during recording to ensure “clean, vivid images”. Digital noise reduction, turned on during playback, provides “clean image even from an old tape”. The cherry on top is a built-in time base corrector (TBC), that is meant to eliminate line jitter and to ensure proper frame geometry.
The machine also has digital frame memory, but I don’t think it is used to patch broken frames during playback. Its primary use is for displaying rock-solid still frames and sharp pictures during slow motion. It is worth mentioning that the VCR has flying erase head for clean cuts and jog dial for precise navigation through a tape, the features offered in some higher-end consumer-grade machines.
The MD3000 does not have EDIT mode, in which all of the effects including chroma delay are turned off. But since I am going to use this machine for digitizing analog tapes, I can adjust chroma shift on a computer.
The MD3000 would make a perfect capture deck for VHS tapes if only it played tapes recorded in LP and EP modes, but it cannot. This VCR is strictly an SP machine. Quite a few distributors have recorded their tapes in LP or even EP mode, and these tapes are unplayable on this VCR.
Frankly, I thought that LP and EP modes were extra features not available on all VHS VCRs, but apparently they were almost universal, so tape duplicators relied on them and often did not even mention the recording speed.
The inability to play LP and EP tapes should not affect capturing movies released by big labels, as they usually are recorded in SP mode. Home videos, recorded on a VHS-C or SVHS-C camcorder at SP speed, can be played using an adapter, taking advantage of TBC and other electronic enhancements.
To sweeten the bitter pill, when the time base corrector rebuilds sync pulses, it removes Macrovision protection, so you’ll be able to capture Hollywood movies without resorting to an additional “video stabilizer”.
This is a scene from the “Doc Hollywood” movie, captured using a $30 Diamond VC500 analog-to-digital converter. The picture is jagged, and it is not because of the interlacing — I removed the pulldown and converted the video into its original 24 frames per second rate. The jaggies are caused by the mis-timing, and hence, mis-alignment of lines in each field, as well as by mis-alignment between fields in a frame.
When playing the same tape on the MD3000, the reduction of jitter and improvement in detail are obvious. There are also fewer secondary aliasing. Some residual jaggies are still present, I think they have been baked in during the recording of this tape, so this is the best I can get from it.
To conclude, I am very happy with this machine. I cannot play LP and EP tapes on it. For these tapes I will use a regular domestic VCR.
I will be capturing all my SP tapes on the MD3000, which has TBC, digital noise reduction, Hi-Fi audio, an S-Video output to ensure the best possible quality I can get from a VHS tape.
See more footage in the video review!