Bottom and top view of VHS-C video cassettes
VHS-C Cassette Adapters (rear) and VHS-C cassette (front)
A size comparison between the original VHS format, VHS-C, and the more recent MiniDV.
Standard VHS-C logo.
S-VHS-C logo.

VHS-C is the compact VHS videocassette format introduced in 1982[1] and used primarily for consumer-grade compact analog recording camcorders. The format is based on the same video tape as is used in VHS, and can be played back in a standard VHS VCR with an adapter. Though quite inexpensive, the format is largely obsolete even as a consumer standard and has been replaced in the marketplace by digital video formats, which have smaller form factors.

The magnetic tape on VHS-C cassettes is wound on one main spool and used a gear wheel which moves the tape forward. It can also be moved by hand. This development hampered the sales of the Betamax system somewhat, because the Betamax cassette geometry prevented a similar development.

VHS-C cassette was larger than Video8 cassette, but was compatible with VHS tape recorders. A higher quality version of VHS-C was released, based on S-VHS, known as S-VHS-C, that competed against Hi8, the higher quality version of Video8. The arrival on the market of inexpensive S-VHS-C camcorders led to the inclusion on many modern VCRs of a feature known as SQPB, or SuperVHS Quasi-PlayBack, but did not make a significant impact on the market as the arrival of MiniDV as a consumer standard made low-cost, digital, near-broadcast quality video widely available to consumers, and rendered analog camcorders largely obsolete.

Compared with Video8, VHS-C had similar video quality but a shorter run time, 90 versus 30 minutes at SP speed (for standard cassettes), 180 versus 60 for longer-running modes. Although at one time JVC marketed a 45-minute and a 60-minute SP Mode tape with the Extra High Grade formulation (135 minutes, and 180 minutes in EP/SLP Mode). Similarly Video8 spawned a 120 minute version of the cassette (240 minutes in long play).

The later Hi8 and S-VHS-C systems both have a quality similar to the laserdisc system.

Although Video8 acquired a digital variant, Digital8, it is extremely unlikely that D-VHS will ever be adapted to a compact format, as the consumer camcorder industry has largely standardized on small-format MiniDV and the new hard drive based recorders. As of 2010, a few VHS-C and S-VHS-C camcorders are still available from JVC at extremely low prices (~US$200), and the media remains widely-available at relatively low cost.


  1. ^ Following page by the inventors of VHS gives the release date of VHS-C as 1982 and includes details of first VHS-C recorder (the HR-C3): "1982 VHS-C". Victor Company of Japan Ltd. (JVC). "Copyright 2001-2003". http://www.vhs-std.com/english/VHS_E/p2VHS-C_e.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-06. "HR-C3 The first model of portable VCR to use VHS-C cassette" [dead link]

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