|MadSci Network: Computer Science|
Fastfowarding does not harm the TV, but does put some additional wear and tear on the tape. A good visual description of how a VCR works can be found in David Macaulay's book "The Way Things Work". The image is read from the tape by passing it over a spinning magnetic head. (When you first stick the tape in, the whirring noises you hear are motors which move the tape up to the head.) There are two methods of fast-forwarding (or rewinding) with a VCR, one where you can see the image, and one where you cannot. When you fast- forward while seeing the image, the tape is still engaged to the magnetic head. When you fast-forward without seeing the image, the tape is retracted. This second method is a much faster way to fast-forward, and is easier on the tape. Fast-forwarding while viewing the image, for a short period, such as skipping commercials, is perfectly fine; the tapes and VCR are designed for this. But, don't FF with the image if you want to skip the first half of a movie, for example, this will cause the tape to stretch, and begin to reduce it's life. (This stretching is the main cause of wear on a tape.) Chris Seaman Alcoa Technical Center
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