The Beta 2-hour (X2) format is basically an extended version of theSony 60 minute Betamax system. Earlier Beta models had a 1 or 2-hour switch which in the 1-hour mode, allowed it to play back tapes recorded on the industrial Betamax VCRs. However, the 2-hour only Beta systems cannot play back tapes made on the 1-hour Betamax systems which effectively separates the 1-hour and 2-hour mode only Beta VCRs into two different incompatible formats. This is a big disadvantage for the Betamax/Beta format.
The Beta 2 VCR uses the same size cassette as the Betamax 1-hour system, but by halving the tape speed to a slow creep of 0.785 ips and reducing the track width proportionately, double playing time is achieved.
A wide range of choice is also available in the home line of Beta VCRs from several manufacturers. The Sony models SL-5400, SL-5600 and SL-5800 have the three-speed playback ability, automatic recording programmability and a wide range of variable playback and search modes. Many newer deluxe VCRs are able to fast forward the tape or move it ahead in slow motion one frame at a time with visible picture. Sony calls this feature BETA-SCAN. The SL-5800 employs a variable Beta-Scan control which allows the user to search at 5 to 20 times normal speed in forward or reverse Shuttle Mode Search).
Toshiba, who also uses the Beta format, has a SUPER-SCAN mode which moves the tape at 40 times normal speed in forward and reverse with visible picture. This fast search ability is useful when using the long play mode recordings and quick Location of a particular tape segment is desired. Sony has a remote control device called the BETASCAN REMOTE COMMANDER to control all the variable speeds and play modes.
Toshiba, Zenith and Sanyo are the other major distributors of Beta format VCRs. All newer Beta VCRs will record and playback in the 2-hour X2 and 3-hour X3 modes. The Zenith machines are nearly identical to the Sonys, but Sanyo and Toshiba make their own versions. As we mentioned, the Toshiba models have the Super-Scan feature but they also have the nice electronic push-button solenoid controls, electronic tuning and 7-day programmability. A remote control is also available,