DVD and VHS: A Technological Comparison

By: Brandi Miller

In the modern day and age, a typical consumer may ask himself the following question: “What should I buy: DVD or VHS?” The widespread belief is that DVDs are the better choice because they are more technologically advanced and they demonstrate a new form of technical communication.  However, this presents a problem for the people who have spent many years adding to what has become an extensive collection of VHS movies.  Today, these movies are worth virtually nothing and with the rising popularity of DVDs, some people may become unnecessarily defensive on this subject. There are many different arguments that may or may not support this idea that the DVD is, in fact, superior to VHS.

There are many benefits in choosing DVDs over VHS tapes. One of the most popular beliefs is that the DVD has better sound and picture quality than VHS. Another benefit is that DVDs have scene selection menus that eliminate the need to fast forward and rewind as well as many other bonus features such as: deleted scenes, behind the scenes interviews, subtitles, additional language tracks, geographical information and documentaries. Another benefit would be that DVDs can be played on a computer which makes them more convenient for students and teachers. Also, in the future, because of the growing popularity of DVDs, when purchasing or renting, the consumer will realize that VHS tapes are becoming less and less available while DVDs are virtually everywhere they look.

DVDs also have many different uses that go way beyond VHS tapes. DVDs are more related to technical communication because they can be used with computers. DVDs can be used to store pictures which make it easier for the consumer to access and organize their photographs on a computer. The most significant advancement that comes along with the DVD is the fact that they are compatible with computers. DVDs can store all types of information including, video, audio and data and then be processed and shared through the computer. Without this advantage, VHS tapes are excluded from the world of technical communication.

The benefits for the VHS tapes are not as extensive as the benefits of DVDs. The main benefit that VHS tapes will always have is that they are a lot cheaper now that DVDs are more popular. However, even though there is not a long list of benefits and special features when it comes to VHS, there is still the fact that there is nothing essentially wrong with them. When it comes right down to it, DVDs have more benefits but the drawbacks of each are quite comparable.

Both the DVD and the VHS present significant problems with durability. Besides the well known fact that VHS tapes can easily be taped over, they also seem to wear out the more they are played and if they are cracked they can easily get caught in the VCR and potentially ruin the VCR as well as the tape. The DVD is more compact than the VHS but it is also extremely prone to damage. A DVD can easily be scratched and when it does get scratched, the movie will not play correctly and annoying skips and interruptions will be seen throughout the movie. This proves that the fact that DVDs have more benefits does not make them the better purchase overall because when it comes to the drawbacks, there is virtually no difference.

Both DVDs and VHS are easy to use. A set of basic instructions can be helpful when using either one. The following instructions show that a VHS tape is easier to set up because it includes fewer instructions. However, if the VHS tape is not rewound to the beginning, more steps would be included.
To Watch a DVD:

  1. Remove the DVD from the case.
  2. Turn the DVD player and television on.
  3. Make sure the television is on the correct channel.
  4. Press the Open button on the DVD player.

      Note: The DVD tray will slide open.

  1. Place the DVD face up inside the DVD tray.
  2. Press the Close button on the DVD player.

      Note: The DVD tray will slide shut.

  1. Wait for the menu to appear on the television screen.
  2. Using either the remote or the button on the VCR, press Play.
  3. Watch the movie.

To Watch a VHS Tape:

  1. Remove the VHS tape from the case.
  2. Turn the VCR and television on.
  3. Make sure the television is on the correct channel.
  4. Push the VHS tape face up through the tape door on the VCR.

      Note: The tape should slide in easily and when it is in the door will close.

  1. Using either the remote or the button on the VCR, press Play.
  2. Watch the movie.

The most important thing a consumer should consider when deciding whether to buy a DVD or a VHS tape is which one he or she thinks will be the most useful to their needs in the long run. Each will probably last the same amount of time and as long as the consumer owns the proper equipment in which to play the DVD or VHS. All in all, the discrepancies between the two are mostly insignificant and no matter what, the consumer is going to buy whatever they want to buy according to their situation.


DVD Versus VHS: The Surprising Truth. Adequacy. 24 Aug 2001. www.adequacy.org