Picks and Pans Review: How to Buy a Vcr

updated 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

Videocassette recorders—VCRs—are the most popular grown-ups' toys around, selling at a rate of 100,000 to 150,000 a week. They are well loved for lots of good reasons: You can "time-shift," recording David Letterman late at night but watching him at a civilized hour. You can rent movies for less than it costs to go to one. You can rent tapes that will teach you how to exercise or even fish. You can buy a camera and make your own made-for-TV movies. Like most high-tech toys, the VCR is a complicated beast, not as mysterious as the computer but confusing nonetheless. Here's what to look for when buying a VCR:

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