Sony List

Betas by Sony

Notes

Browse by year

Sony Betamax VCRs over the years
Year Model SRP Comments

1975

LV-1901

$2,495

The very first Betamax; included a 19″ Sony Trinitron TV plus an SL-6200 X-1-only Betamax in a beautiful teakwood cabinet. Had a built-in 24-hour timer, a second TV tuner, and a camera input! (Still makes for an attractive piece of furniture!) It could be said that this unit started home video.

1976

SL-7200

$1,200

First stand-alone Betamax; had no audio or video inputs, only outputs.The clock was an option for $45! One-event, 24-hour timer.Had removable RF converter that was for Ch. 3 or Ch. 4, depending upon where you lived!

SL-7200A

$1,260

Essentially the same as the SL-7200, but with audio and video inputs, and a microphone input which overrode all other audio input sources.

SLO-260

$1,600

First of the “SLO” industrial models (“O” stood for “Office”). The 260 looked like an SL-7200, but added an audio VU meter, manual audio level control, and audio dub. Oddly enough, the Pause button didn’t lock like it did on the 7200!

1977

SL-8200

$1,055

A remodeled SL-7200, with a double-wide RECORD button. Introduced the X-2 speed, which allowed for 2-hour recording and required the newly formulated L-500 tape.

SLO-320

$1,495

Improved and redesigned industrial “X-1” unit; had solenoid buttons with full logic control, programmed playback operations, optional full-function remote control (actually made for Sony’s U-Matic units), audio limiter switch, audio VU meter with level control, and random-access search feature using another optional remote! Had a strange quirk in the record mode, where the picture would become unstable and lose sync (fixed in the next model, the SLO-323.)

1979

SL-8600

$1,150

First Betamax with a built-in digital clock, wired pause control, and semi-solenoid buttons. Biggest drawback was the fact that it only handled the new X-2 speed in both play and record.

SL-5400

$1,250

Groundbreaking machine! Introduced: BetaScan search mode; 3X fast play; BIII record/play speed; Express Tuning (14 electronic pre-sets); audio dubbing; remote control with scan and pause; multi-programming (3-day, 1-event); freeze frame. Played back all 3 speeds, but the B-I playback switch was on the rear of the machine! Renamed record and playback speeds Beta II (or BII) instead of X-2. First unit to use the new Greek β Betamax logo.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-J1

SLO-340

$1,395

First portable Betamax; white in color; rec/play X-1 only.

1980

SL-5600

$1,350

Improved SL-5400, introducing 14-day 4-event programming, electronic indexing (called “Tab Marker System”), and 10-minute battery back-up.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-J7 (first Betamax to offer linear stereo)

SL-5800

$1,450

First Betamax with a name: “Time Commander.” Introduced unique features such as variable-speed scan, frame-by-frame picture advance, variable speed slow motion, crystal-clear freeze frame, all accessible from the remote control, plus automatic rewind at end of tape. Had a BetaStack changer as an option.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-J9

SL-3000

$850

Second-generation portable unit; recorded BII, played back both BI and BII.

SLO-323

$1,595

Vastly improved SLO-320; added two-track stereo sound and variable-speed playback, from slo-mo to scan.Fixed the instability record problem of the SLO-320.

SLO-383

$3,750

The ultimate X-1 editor, an improved SLO-323 (there was another SLO model between these two, the SLO-325). The 383 offered true audio and video insert editing using flying erase heads, programmed operation, linear stereo audio, 2 mike inputs, headphone jack, and a video tracking meter. Original cost was an incredible $3,750, making it the most expensive Betamax ever!

1981

SL-5000

$899

First front-loader; stripped-down, 1-event, 1-day timer.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-J10

1982

SL-5100

$995

Slightly improved SL-5000; 7-day timer.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-J20

SL-2500

$1,000

Ushered in a new generation of “slim-line” Betas; this one was only 4″ tall! Had an optional changer, first one made for a front-loading unit.Ushered in many great playback features that are common today, such as frame-by-frame in forward and reverse (called “Swing Search”), etc.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-F11

SL-2000

$700

First lightweight portable unit; had the first linear time counter (hours/minutes/seconds [actually, tenths of seconds]); weighed in at 9 ½ pounds. Had outboard, matching tuner-timer unit, the TT-2000, with 14-day programming. Re-released in 1984 as the

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-F1

1983

SL-2200

$700

No info, sorry!

SL-2400

$500

First of the “E-Z Beta” line; extremely stripped-down machines, simple to use and program. 3-day, 1-event programming.

SL-2005

$800

Unique story here: these were really SL-2000 portables that Sony bought back from Zenith after Zenith dropped the Beta format; Sony painted them black, changed the model number to SL-2005, changed the tuner from TT-2000 to TT-2005, and sold them off as their own!

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-F1B

SL-5200

$900

First Beta Hi-Fi unit which offered near-CD quality stereo audio, a vast improvement over the 2-track linear stereo available on Sony’s Japanese Beta units. Same physical appearance as the SL-5000 with as few features. Had 3-day, 1-event programming. Early users discovered that tapes recorded in Beta Hi-Fi played back with small irritating horizontal lines in the picture when played on a non–Beta Hi-Fi machine. Notice that the first few Hi-Fi machines didn’t have the “HF” designation in the model number.

SL-2700

$1,500

Second Beta Hi-Fi unit, loaded with all the high-end playback features missing from the SL-5200, plus had the slimmer styling of the SL-2500. Had 14-day, 4-event timer.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-HF77

1984

SL-2300

$500

Another low-end unit. 3-day, 1-event timer, this was one of the “E-Z Beta” units with super-simple operation and slim-line styling. Had front-mounted camera input.

SL-2305

UNK

Same as the SL-2300 but had 14-button tuning.

SL-2401

$650

A slightly improved SL-2400.

SL-2406

UNK

Basically an SL-2400 with brown case; had front A/V inputs.

SL-2410

$750

A 2401 with increased timer to 3-week, 4-event. Known as the “talking Betamax”; had synthesized speech messages!

SL-2415

$890

No info, but suspected an improved SL-2410.

SL-2710

$1,300

A new top-of-the-line Beta Hi-Fi that replaced the SL-2700.

SL-3030

$600

2-head low-end model; 7-day, 6-event programming.

SL-9090

UNK

A low-end Beta featuring random-access tuning and linear tape counter.

SL-HF300

$700

First Beta Hi-Fi with the “HF” prefix. 7-day, 6-event timer. Available in silver or black!

SL-HF500

UNK

Step-up model of the SL-HF300, with linear timer counter.

SL-HFR30

$650

Another ingenious Sony idea: make a Beta that’s only Hi-Fi-ready, buy the hi-fi processor separately, as an option, only if you want it! 7-day, 6-event timer; available in silver or black!

SL-HFR90

$800

A step-up Beta Hi-Fi-Ready unit, with 21-day, 9-event programming. Had linear time counter (H/M/S).

SL-10

$400

Lowest of the low E-Z Betas. Had 7-day, 6-event timer. This, and the next 3 “E-Z Betas,” had only Channel Up/Down tuning on the unit.

SL-20

$575

Low-end E-Z Beta unit. 7-day, 6-event timer. Available in 3 colors!

SL-30

$600

Almost the same as the SL-20, but had decent freeze-frame. Also had 7-day, 6-event timer.

SL-60

$650

An SL-30 with 4 heads; had perfect freeze-frame and frame-by-frame advance. Still had 7-day, 6-event programming.

SL-90

$750

The King of the EZ-Betas; had 4 heads, perfect freeze-frame, 21-day, 9-event programming, and random-access tuning controls on the unit.

Note: From here on, almost all Betas manufactured were Hi-Fi Stereo machines, and had stereo tuners

1985

SL-HF400

$800

Here come the SuperBetas, which offered increased video bandwidth and slightly higher picture quality.Entry-level SuperBeta, with Hi-Fi audio, stereo tuner (118-channel cable-ready), and SuperBeta processing.

SL-HF600

$1,000

Step-up version of the SL-HF400. Had frame-by-frame and slo-mo playback, plus arrows showing tape movement and direction.

SL-HF900

$1,500

A great machine, the top-end SuperBeta for 1985. Had 4 video heads, crystal-clear variable-speed playback, jog/shuttle wheel, pseudo video insert editing, audio dub, 21-day, 8-event timer, Electronic Tab Marker indexing up to 9 segments on one tape, regular and slo-motion tracking controls, headphone jack with volume control, mic input. Also had little-known “animation record” feature, where you can record one frame at a time. Very sought after in the used Beta market!

(Note: The Japanese version of this unit recorded and played back SuperBeta BI-S; the American version could be modified to do this too. Contact this author for details.)

SL-HFR70

$550

Another Hi-Fi-ready machine; 7-day, 6-event programming, with 148-ch. cable-ready tuner.

GCS-50

$1,500

Industrial SuperBeta, cream-colored unit, with transport and electronics similar to the SL-HF1000. Had a locking jog wheel, linear stereo, flying erase heads, and insert audio and video editing.

SLO-1800

$2,000

Industrial Superbeta Hi-Fi duplicator, with VU meters for the audio levels and tracking level.

1986

SL-HF450

$750

An improved SL-HF400; now had linear time counter, frame-by-frame playback, and slo-mo playback. 7-day, 6-event timer; had single audio level control.

SL-HF550

$900

A step-up SL-HF450, with 3 heads and perfect freeze-frame and slo-mo; improved fluorescent display with moving arrows showing tape motion; split audio level controls for L and R channels; 7-day, 6-event programming.

SL-HF750

$1,300

High-end SuperBeta.

  • Introduced B-I recoding in SuperBeta with great picture quality.
  • Also had unusual “linear skate cassette loading” mechanism that loaded a cassette like a CD
  • Frame-by-frame and slo-mo in forward and reverse
  • 4 heads
  • First Betamax to have a limited on-screen display
  • Recorded and played back all 3 Beta speeds in SuperBeta
  • Had EDIT switch to improve picture quality when dubbing tapes
  • Electronic Tab Marker Indexing for marking and retrieving up to 15 points on one cassette, and even locking scan on the machine!
  • The remote control had all this, plus a jog/shuttle wheel for precise frame editing
  • 21-day, 8-event programming

Very sought after in the used Beta market!

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-HF705

SL-100

$400

A rare monaural SuperBeta; 7-day, 6-event programming, mono cable-ready tuner (148 ch.), linear time counter.

SL-700

$550

Low-end unit; 7-day, 6-event. No other info.

SL-HFT7

$1,000

The unique “SuperBeta Theater,” with built-in stereo amplifiers and different sound fields (“surround,” “concert hall,” etc. Hi-Fi stereo, 148-ch. cable-ready tuner, 7-day, 6-event programming.

SL-HF1000

$1,700

Considered by many (including this author) to be the Nº 1, all-time best Betamax ever made! The list of features is endless:

  • 4 heads
  • 21-day, 8-event programming
  • 181-channel cable-ready stereo tuner
  • Jog/shuttle wheel on the unit as well as on the remote
  • New B-I Super High Band 6.0 MHz record mode
  • Black Screen
  • EE mode (which lets you view a momentary live picture during tape playback!)
  • 8-segment Automatic Assemble Editing (when used with two SL-HF1000s)
  • True insert video editing using two flying erase heads
  • Audio dubbing
  • Full on-screen display showing hours/min./sec./frames, as well as a monthly calendar for setting the timer
  • A built-in character generator with 4 font sizes, 8-page memory, complete alphanumeric alphabet and two backgrounds (plain white letters or white letters against a black background)
  • 19-segment indexing
  • Time Search feature on the remote (lets you search for an exact spot using hours and minutes)
  • Tape Remaining Indicator (you set the tape length for L500, L750, L830 tape), mic input
  • Headphone jack w/volume control
  • And an EJECT button on the remote!

Probably the most sought-after Betamax ever!

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-HF3000

1987

SL-300

$400

Low-end SuperBeta; monaural; 7-day, 1-event timer.

SL-HF350

$550

Low-end SuperBeta Hi-fi; 7-day, 6-event timer.

SL-HF650

$850

Newer version of the SL-HF600; 7-day, 6-event programming, 148 channel cable-ready tuner.

1988

EDV-7500

$1,950

One of the first two ED-Betas to bow, the 7500 was the low-end model; required special metal tape to produce a dazzling picture of 500 lines! Had 7-day, 6-event programming; one flying erase head; digital effects on the remote; digital scan on the machine (a digitized but visible picture in FF and REW); new Shuttle Edit Control; S-video inputs/outputs; cable-ready stereo tuner.

EDV-9500

$3,300

The high-end ED Beta editor; had all of the 7500’s features (except the Digital Scan button on the unit – was only on the remote), plus many of the great features of the SL-HF1000, such as true video insert editing, Time Remaining indicator, on-screen display, audio dub, Automatic Assemble Editing, indexing, 21-day, 8-event programming. Also had some digital effects, such as strobe, still, etc. One of the Dream Machines, and heavily sought after on the used Beta market!

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

EDV-9000

SL-330

$450

Another low-end SuperBeta; had 7-day, 1-event programming; monaural.

SL-HF360

$600

Essentially the same as the SL-330, but with hi-fi stereo audio; 7-day, 6-event programming; 2 video heads.

SL-HF810D

$550

Digital Effects Beta arrives! This model had 7-day, 6-event programming, with an array of digital effects, such as picture-in-picture, strobe, stop motion, etc.

SL-HF840D

$750

Another digital ("D") machine, with 14-day, 4-event programming.

SL-HF860D

$1,100

Top-end digital Beta for ’88; 2 heads, full complement of digital effects (PIP, mosaic, strobe, still picture art, multi-strobe, digital zoom, recall, digital scan, digital slow, etc.), 151-ch. cable-ready tuner, 7-day, 6-event programming.

1989

EDW-30F

$3,300

The industrial ED Beta version of the EDV-9500; differed only in features, and had no tuner, timer, remote, or RF unit.

SL-340

$450

Supposedly an improved SL-330, low-end unit.

SL-390

$500

Another low-end SuperBeta; 7-day, 1-event. Had “color switch” to increase color intensity of tape playback.

SL-HF870D

$1,100

Successor to the 860D, with a Tape Stabilizer System and wooden sides.

1990

SL-S600

$450

Only American Betamax with the “S” designation in the model number; was SuperBeta but non-Hi-Fi; has 2 heads, slo-mo playback, and locking BetaScan (a feature found only in a few latter-year model Betas).

1991

SL-HF2100

$1,700

The much-awaited 15th Anniversary Betamax, also known as the Buttonless Betamax.

  • Had huge front-panel swing-down door that ran the width of the machine, with unique touch-pad with all the machine functions
  • Unique LED readout with scrolling messages
  • The first Sony Beta to ever have automatic tracking (which was defeatable)
  • Recorded B-I Super High Band like the SL-HF1000
  • Had video and audio insert editing
  • 4 heads
  • S-video inputs and outputs
  • 1-month, 8-event programming
  • Lacked a headphone jack
  • Had the most high-tech but impractical remote control ever conceived, again with no buttons, just a long touch-pad with 13 different menu screens and two-way communication with the unit. Setting the timer was a nightmare!

Heavily sought after on the used Beta market and, the last high-end, full-featured American-market Beta produced (sigh! ).

1993

SL-HF2000

$850

The last American Betamax model made. Extremely stripped-down version of the SL-HF2100, with none of the frills; 2 heads, a standard remote control, no B-I record, normal buttons, etc.

JAPANESE EQUIVALENT

SL-HF200D


About this listing

You are reading a reformulation of Ray Glasser’s origial Beta Info Guide in valid HTML and CSS. Joe Clark did the recoding, with the aim of bringing the underlying code into standards compliance without significantly altering the appearance. The attempt was to prove that standards compliance is generally unrelated to visual appearance; see this Weblog entry.

Posted January 2003 ¶ Updated 2004.12.26