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Using Video Recorders after the Digital TV Switchover

The humble VHS video cassette. Some of you may be worried that you can't record onto video tape, or play back your old collection of videos after the switchover, but fear not - you can!

A VHS Video cassette

On this page, we offer advice on watching and recording with a VCR after the switchover.

Can I record onto video cassettes after the switchover?

Most VHS video recorders only have a receiver capable of getting analogue TV signals, not the newer digital signals. If you have a video recorder that doesn't have built-in Freeview, then you won't be able to record the standard 5 channels just by plugging in a TV aerial.

That doesn't mean that your video recorder is obsolete - you can still use it for video playback, and if your video recorder has an SCART input socket for a SCART lead (pictured below), you'll still be able to record TV on it.

SCART socket
A SCART socket
SCART plug
A SCART plug


Yoy can still use a video recorder to record from Freeview, Freesat, Sky and other digital TV services. It's a case of connecting from the output of a digital TV set-top box and recording via "Line In".

As an example, here's how to record Freeview on a video recorder:

  • Get yourself a basic Freeview set-top box (from Currys, Tesco or Argos)
  • Get yourself a SCART lead (often supplied with your Freeview box)
  • Plug one end of the SCART lead into the SCART socket on the Freeview box
  • Plug the other end of the SCART lead into one of the SCART sockets on your video recorder
  • Set your recorder so that it can record from the SCART socket (normally a button labelled AV / Aux or Line In on the video's remote control)

For more on recording digital TV, see our Recording Digital TV page.

For a guide to the basics of setting up a single TV and video recorder, see our TV and VCR after the Switchover page


Need a Freeview box? Available from Currys and Argos
No spare socket on your video recorder? Help is here

Need a SCART lead? We recommend Maplin and tvcables


Can I watch video cassettes after the switchover?

Question: "What about playing pre-recorded video cassettes after we go digital? I've been told that after the switchover, I will be unable to play the hundreds of pre-recorded video cassettes I already have. Is this true?"

SCART plugThe good news is that you can still play back your existing video cassette tapes after the switchover. You will need to connect the output of your video recorder to your TV set.

Typically you will do this with a SCART lead (pictured) going from your recorder to a spare SCART socket on the TV.


No spare SCART socket on your TV? Help is here

Need a SCART lead? We recommend Maplin and TVcables


The digital switchover only affected the reception and recording of the five standard TV channels via a TV aerial. If you connect the output of an existing analogue VHS video unit to an analogue or digital TV set, you'll still be able to play back video cassettes on your TV.

Your questions on Video Cassette Recorders

"My daughter has a telly in her room, but only watches videos and DVDs on her telly. Will we have to convert hers to digital or will she still be able to watch videos and DVDs?"

All that the digital switchover affected, was the ability to watch analogue TV (the 5 standard channels) via a TV aerial. If your daughter doesn't want to watch or record TV in her room, she won't need to 'go digital' - playback of video/DVD isn't affected by the digital switchover.

"Are there any new style PVRs or DVRs which also have a slot to play videos or to record onto videos as an alternative?"

As far as we know, there are no PVRs that have a built-in video cassette recorder/player, however all PVRs can be connected to a video cassette recorder using a SCART lead, so that you can transfer recordings to videotape if required.

Answer unclear? Let us know!

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