Tech Flashback: My Collection of MiniDV Cassettes

Seeing as I broke inside of a Mini DV cassette earlier, and found little of interest, maybe it was time for me to admire the various different exteriors from different brands. Here is my collection of cassettes.

Panasonic

Panasonic’s consumer cassettes came in a clear jewel case, rather than the tinted case on the Fuji. The cassettes carried branding such as LinearPlus.

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The cassettes were distinctive in having a blue cover flap, with Panasonic being the only brand of 80 minute Mini DV cassettes I could easily purchase.

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The 80 minute cassette also differed from others in having an IC memory chip embedded into the case, resulting in the gold contacts we can see rather than plastic blanking.

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They came with various inlays and labels.

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I also ended up having my hands on some for professional series Panasonic cassettes. These are 63-minute cassettes. My bet is that they’re probably about the same as a regular cassette, instead, labelled with its real length as most regular cassettes have 2-3 minutes extra length anyway. It’s probably labelled that way to distinguish it from consumer cassettes and to place minds at ease when attempting to record a 60 minute program onto a 60 minute cassette.

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This particular cassette came in a flexible milky-white plastic box instead, and had a top branding label pre-applied. The inlays are formatted differently and are more colourful than the consumer versions.

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Fujifilm

I tore down a Fuji cassette earlier, but I have a suspicion that it is actually a Panasonic OEM cassette based on the hub spring shape and angle, and the colour of the hub clip. I also, strangely, have some Fujifilm branded cassettes that have the same product name but a reel window which extends to show both reels. This is relatively uncommon.

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The labels for the top section are a different shape as a result. This one has grey hub clips and a frosted clear tinted top hub plate. Below is the inlay card.

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TDK

These tapes always came in a flexible milky white plastic case, although if flexed too much, tended to break at the hinge, which was merely a thin seam in the plastic.

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The cassette featured a quarter-circle style window, with a separate labelling area to the left. The cassette had a blue shell with grey flap and yellow hub clip.

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The provided labels and inlays are shown below. The labels were designed such that one set was floral, and the other set was blank. The inlays used a grey and white scheme.

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A special tape I have from TDK is a head cleaner. This is a dry type abrasive cleaner, as they mostly all were, and comes in a colour inverted case – grey case, blue flap, with colourful teal green printing.

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Interestingly, this is another cassette with IC memory, maybe to tell the deck it is a cleaning cartridge. The write protect tab mechanism has been removed entirely, to prevent recording on the cassette by accident.

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The supplied instructions and inlays imply that the cassette is good for about 100 cleans and can be rewound once after being completely used.

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Conclusion

While the insides of the Mini DV cassette were not that interesting, the outside was slightly better. The different brands have their own style, however, due to the mixing-and-matching issue, you will notice that my collection has no Sony branded cassettes in it. This was a conscious decision made to try and avoid any potential issues, as a loaned Sony cassette was the beginning of a head clog that took several cleans to jam, so I wasn’t going to risk it myself.

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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