11/19/1984 at 01:00 AM EST
Some VCRs come apart so that you can carry a "small" recorder (about the size of a phone book) on your back, hook it up to a camera, and become your own Eyewitness News Team. The problem: Portable VCRs are more expensive than tabletop models and the cameras cost yet more. And no matter that they're called portable, they're still a lot to lug around. Now there's another option: the Betamovie and the VHS equivalent. These are cameras with video tape recorders inside, so you don't need to carry around a separate VCR. On Beta you can record about three and a half hours in the camera, on VHS only 20 minutes. The catch: These cameras are new and still expensive ($1,000 and up), so you wipe out the savings you get by buying a tabletop instead of a portable VCR. The moral: If you don't want a camera right away, but might someday, you'll probably be safe buying a tabletop VCR—saving a few hundred dollars since it's not portable—and waiting for the right (and slightly cheaper) combination camera-recorder to come out. The 8 mm option for home-movie video is questionable. As of now you can't play prerecorded movies on 8 mm machines.