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VHS' Days Appear Numbered

Consumers spent more than $23 billion dollars on DVDs last year.

And if you haven't switched from VHS to DVD yet, now may be the time, suggests CBS News Science and Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg.

It's been more than 30 years since VHS players became the hottest toy in town and redefined home entertainment, he says. Prices were astronomical even by today's standards, but by the late 1980s, competing video format Betamax had faded.

Now, VHS may be facing the Grim Reaper.

In October, says Sieberg, JVC, the first and last company to make VCRs, announced it would suspend production of the standalone machines. And now, VHS tapes appear to be facing the same fate.

Burbank, Calif. businessman Ryan Kuglar, of Distribution Video Audio Inc., specializes in selling older formats to those who still want them. But, as the last major supplier of VHS tapes in the country, he says he has no plans to continue stocking them.

"We finally decided to stop doing it, because the demand is nil, it's nothing. There's no more demand for VHS anymore. It's stale to us," he told Sieberg.

That's hardly a surprise for most people, and pop culture has poked fun at VHS for years, Sieberg notes.

If you want to get your hands on a VHS tape, you could have a hard time doing it, he adds. But the format isn't dead yet.

For instance, in the basement of a New York video store called The Video Room, employee Merril Speck remarked that VHS is "a really durable format and it's been a part of people's lives for a quarter century."

The video room has thousands of movies on VHS, and says it rents as many as 20-25 every day. It was among the first movie rental stores in New York.

Sieberg points out that, while places such as Blockbuster and Wal-Mart have stopped selling VHS tapes, there are still plenty of people with home movies on them.

And on The Early Show Wednesday, co-anchor Harry Smith asked whether people should start moving video from VHS to DVDs, because VHS tapes deteriorate over time.

"Absolutely," Sieberg replied. "It's a horrible storage technology. They're so bulky and big.

"There are a few ways you can (make the transfers). You can get a dual player, where you have a VHS player and DVD recorder together.

"Or you can get something like" Sony's DVD Direct CRD MC5, which lists for $169.99."

Sieberg demonstrated how to transfer videos using that device. "You literally just plug in your VCR into the side (of the DVD Direct), using component cables. Hit record (on the DVD Direct), and play on your (VCR), and you've got to sit and wait, so if you've got dozens of hours of home videos that you have to sit through, it's going to take you awhile! But it will be on a DVD and you can watch it later.

"There are computer technologies, too -- some software ... and that way, you can edit and manipulate the clips afterwards."

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