Last updated: February 17, 2009 - 10:09am
The venerable VCR is one of the unsung casualties of the move to digital television. Consumers who have used the devices for years to record over-the-air or cable channels will soon be losing key features as both systems go from analog to digital transmissions. They will be left to choose from a few jerry-built or pricey solutions. "What we're witnessing is that the VCR is becoming a little bit more obsolete," said Amina Fazlullah, a legislative counsel at the U.S. Public Interest Resource Group who has focused on the transition to digital television. VCRs have been on the way out for years, of course. DVDs replaced video tapes long ago at video rental stores. More recently, cutting-edge consumers have moved on to DVRs or to watching video directly downloaded or streamed from the Internet. But the VCR is still a prized piece of equipment for many Americans. Some 72 percent of U.S. households with a TV also have a VCR, according to research group Nielsen. While the number of homes with a VCR has been declining, it's still much larger than the number of homes with DVRs. Just 24 percent of TV-owning households have one of the newer recording devices.