RetroTech: Sony's bizarre Ruvi camcorder

  • Published on Oct 25, 2016
  • I love a good bad idea - and this was one of the best.
    Sony's 1998's Ruvi was a one-off camcorder experiment. In the video you can find out what made this a unique failure.
    This channel can be supported through Patreon
    Sometimes Patrons have early access to videos
    Guessed Potential Questions or Comments (Q=Question, C=Comment)
    Q) Is the tape a loop?
    A) No it runs from one reel to the other then you rewind it.
    Q) Will you do a video about that MicroMV camcorder?
    A) Yes I plan to, one day
    Q) Would the video have looked sharper with a brand new video cartridge?
    A) Worn out tape will usually show drop-outs (small white lines) but this tape didn't have any which indicates the tape was still fine. If this was my camera I doubt I'd have recorded on it 'hundreds of times' - I'd probably have used it a few times over a year or two then upgraded to a different camera.
    Q) If the camera only has an analog output how did you capture the video?
    A) With a video capture device hooked up to the composite output from the camera.
    Q) Did you change the video title?
    A) Yes, I couldn't decide on a suitable word, but the Quarrymen did all right after a name change, so what's in a name.
    Q) Why are there no muppets in this video?
    A) They don't appear in every video - they just come out when something 'amusing' comes to mind for them to express. Today - I have nothing. Writer's block.
    C) Actually I think you'll find that those pentalobe screws were....
    A) ....
    C) That shirt needed ironing
    A) Yes it did - I wore a creased shirt to demonstrate the lack of shadow-definition on the Ruvi (this is not true).
    Q) I really need to see what MiniDV video looked like from that JVC camcorder (for some unfathomable reason)
    A) Well here's some indoors footage I took with it in 1998
    Q) What's this New York in 1993 in HD thing you mentioned?
    A) So you're the person who hasn't seen it... more info here
    Q)Where do you get the old magazines from?
    C) You said that the footage 'might have looked like it came from 20 years earlier than 1998, that's 1978, video in 1978 wouldn't have looked like that.
    C) In those magazines there is a camcorder for $23,000
    A) Typo
    Q) Do you have downloadable full size photos of the interior of that video cartridge
    A) Why yes, yes I do -
    C) So I noticed that at the beginning of the video in a totally unscripted bit when you spoke to the camera uninterrupted for three minutes that you referred to 8 years as as few...however I don't think 8 is a few...I think it's more than that.
    A) Is this really what you wanted to do with your life, trying to pick apart videos on youtube? Have a try at making's a lot harder than sitting watching a phone on the toilet while eating Cheetos and complaining about everything, however it can be a lot more rewarding too. You never know you might become a youtube megastar and experience things from the other side.
    C) Hey dude I would have just spooled new tape inside that cartridge from a Hi8 cassette
    A) Cool story bro.
    C) I saw some white chewing gum stuck to the camera
    A) It was white-tac used to hold the camera on it's end in one of the size comparison photos - I neglected to remove it and it now has completely ruined the entire internet for everyone...sorry about that.
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 1 395

  • Oldbmwr100rs
    Oldbmwr100rs 3 days ago

    Now if only Sony had made the video mechanism into the case and used something like an easily replaceable tape cartridge that would extend use time, as well as adding a couple more batteries to give better operation time..
    Back when Sony was more running on their name than actual better product..

  • Joseph Rollins
    Joseph Rollins 5 days ago

    Just wanted to point out (in case it drives anyone else mad like it did me for a minute) the song at 6:12 is Poor Wandering One from Pirates of Penzance

  • InterCity200 CFR
    InterCity200 CFR 11 days ago


  • Zymosan99
    Zymosan99 12 days ago

    sony's bizarre cam-cord-venture

  • Popular Media
    Popular Media 21 day ago


  • MarkNet Productions
    MarkNet Productions 22 days ago

    Fisher-Price in America had a camcorder for kids in the 1990s, using standard audio cassettes to record 15 minutes of BW video...

  • William Ramsell
    William Ramsell Month ago

    The recording cartridge is fascinating but silly.

  • Oncampus2k
    Oncampus2k Month ago

    The audio of the reviewed camera only came through in my left earphone. I kept thinking something was wrong with my AirPods, but once the voiceover came back I felt like an idiot.

  • Luís Pacheco
    Luís Pacheco Month ago

    Thank you. Entertaining as allways

  • ModMokkaMatti
    ModMokkaMatti Month ago

    Mr. Mat sounds a bit more agitated here than usual. Did one of the muppets spike his tea/coffee?

  • Detroit8V92tta
    Detroit8V92tta Month ago

    Sony didn't want the cartridge to be disassembled because they were embarrassed.

  • Lurker Smith
    Lurker Smith Month ago

    Wow, TheXvid is suggesting some deep tracks in 2019!

  • zeldamasterbro
    zeldamasterbro Month ago

    when you switched to the camera footage i thought my headphones broke lol

  • Rocky Oyam
    Rocky Oyam Month ago

    My left ear really like that camera... 😬

  • kneel
    kneel Month ago

    Watching the video of London in October 2000 (if the date is indeed correct) I was thinking that this was exactly the time period Lee Wenham and his gang were prepping for the foiled Millennium Dome diamond heist which happened 11/7/2000 - shame no dome shots were in the video

  • Les Rogers
    Les Rogers Month ago

    Those cartridges must have been super-expensive with replacing the head drum AND the tape!

  • Brian Sorci
    Brian Sorci Month ago

    I love your videos! They are my go to youtube vids which always lead to cruising ebay afterwards. Some constructive criticism, it feels like a barrage of words sometimes with little to no pauses between phrases. Maybe leave in a couple second pause or two when editing, it might keep it from sounding like an onslaught of words. Other than that your content is seller!!!!!

  • EL
    EL 2 months ago

    "C) Hey dude I would have just spooled new tape inside that cartridge from a Hi8 cassette
    A) Cool story bro." Tecmoan answer, Classic shit lmao!

  • EL
    EL 2 months ago

    This guy is on point!! I was just about to ask for the HD Newyork link. BAM! I look in the description and there it is.

  • Halojen
    Halojen 2 months ago

    Nobody seems to have picked up the genius part of this design.
    The cartridge is hermedically sealed. That's excellent.

  • Chris Horry
    Chris Horry 2 months ago

    Even if it is Hi8, the video quality is still awful. I had a cheap Hi8 camcorder from the same era and when I went to digitise the video a few years later I was pleasantly surprised how well it held up.

  • Jo Cool
    Jo Cool 2 months ago

    A-ha! Vendor lock-in! The stupid way!

  • Rogue Bystander
    Rogue Bystander 2 months ago

    wait.. this has a screen that does 180deg flip and my a7sII doesn't? are you shitting me?

  • Brannen Thompson
    Brannen Thompson 2 months ago

    I found some VD CR1 cartridges on E Bay for $30 each plus $25 shipping to the UK God knows the original prices, and the Ruvi's are £45 to £299 so its pot luck at the time if you get a bargain LOL.

  • Andrew Kasper
    Andrew Kasper 2 months ago

    I thought I was the only one "SHOW US WHAT'S IN THE CARTRIDGE! "
    but the commentary during killed me! XD

  • Sergeant Crow
    Sergeant Crow 3 months ago

    There is one on eBay right now Sep 2019 for £15.. Ha ! it can stay there, unless you want to nab it and help the charity selling it..

  • TighelanderII
    TighelanderII 3 months ago

    I remembered this a few years ago, but couldn't find any mention of it. I couldn't remember exactly what the name was.

  • J Watson
    J Watson 3 months ago

    Since the cartridge was supposed to be serviced by an engineer, it was possibly a good idea that it contained the head assembly. It provided an extra barrier against foreign bodies and would perform a better job maintaining the location of the tape relative to the head, so no tracking adjustment required. The presentation doesn't suggest that you would have multiple cartridges, so cost of them is irrelevant. Presumably the Sony engineer would only replace the tape and service the head, so it's not like u were buying a new head...even if Sony's tariffs suggest otherwise, lol.

  • B3ro1080
    B3ro1080 3 months ago

    Why didn't you convert the analog picture to 50 FPS? The human eye doesn't see only 25 FPS you know

  • MrMovieMan941
    MrMovieMan941 3 months ago

    Editing 1080i footage is a nightmare! :D

  • Joseph Townes
    Joseph Townes 3 months ago

    I doesn't have sounds when you show the camcorder video !?

  • hond654
    hond654 4 months ago

    Sony was inventive that time, but paid the price for it.

  • Andrew Boraas
    Andrew Boraas 4 months ago

    that sony dcr-trv900 listed in the ad at 7:32 for $23k is $20 now. I guess thats what happens to actually obsolete things.

  • djpaul146
    djpaul146 4 months ago

    I've got a few old camcorders and cameras from about 1995 but no chargers

  • Stephen Devore
    Stephen Devore 4 months ago

    When you over think an idea.🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔😎 If you can find it the Mini Disc video camera. The late 1990s and it used Mp4 at that time
    Have never seed a review on it.😎

  • gomez
    gomez 4 months ago

    Trying to create new standards that will fail, just because we are a BIG company and we can afford it. Still existing today...

  • NathanOakley1980
    NathanOakley1980 4 months ago

    I remember selling that camcorder when I worked at Dixon’s.

  • Tecnovlog
    Tecnovlog 4 months ago

    in 1998 almost no one had Mini DV camcorders

  • DJ Sabre
    DJ Sabre 4 months ago

    6:15 is Gloucester docks 👌 and the stills are Gloucester too

  • Andrea Bonamini
    Andrea Bonamini 4 months ago

    I finally discovered what is that strange-looking thing that briefly appears in the credit section of Techmoan videos and that was haunting me since the last few months!

  • kamathln
    kamathln 4 months ago

    Maybe they had ideas of having different types of cartridges.. like convert it to digital and store to flash ?

  • evilkabab
    evilkabab 4 months ago +1

    I disagree about that tech solution be called stupid. If miniaturization is a goal you dont have much choice. Just imagine typical camcorder layout: cassette, head drum and loading mechanism. You cannot really get smaller than this. What Sony did is to put head drum into cassette, thus avoiding load mechanism and using ALL available space inside the cassette. So in fact it is WHOLE recorder in small assembly, thou without electronics.

    Down side is the price and only 30 minutes of record time, but who stops you from buying few more spare 'recorders'...

    Good attempt, Sony

  • CODMarioWarfare
    CODMarioWarfare 4 months ago

    I'm gonna guess was that the plan was that, at scale, they'd replace the tape in the cartridge and your authorized Sony dealer would be giving you a refurbished cartridge.

  • Victor
    Victor 4 months ago

    I suppose the idea behind replacing the cartridge containing the video head & tape was that Sony could then take the old one apart, clean the heads, & replace the tape. Then this could be sold as a new cartridge to another customer.

  • Asier Gonzalez Zabala
    Asier Gonzalez Zabala 4 months ago

    Really bizarre video recording format there!! WOW!! Never heard about that analogic video format. =)

  • Jaap van der plas
    Jaap van der plas 4 months ago

    yet a nice piece of technology from sony.

  • asterixxer
    asterixxer 4 months ago

    I have still one of the first digital Camcorders from Sony. It has a Harddrive 60GB on board :-)

  • Peter Smyczek
    Peter Smyczek 4 months ago

    haha, that is amazing! I watched quite a good deal of your videos already, plenty of them showing noticeably bizarre concepts from the customer electronics industry across the past decades. This one here is really amongst the top5 I'd say.
    Anyways, thank you so much for your channel, the effort you are putting into your videos, and your particularly well made balance of professional historic investigation part with that great sense of sarcasm/humour you are putting into your videos. Really thank you! PS: I never thought watching someone talking about old electronics from the past could be so entertaining and worthwhile watching!

  • Ceyhun Paşaoğlu
    Ceyhun Paşaoğlu 4 months ago

    Anyone knows a channel about old cameras and stuff?

  • Alan Cordwell
    Alan Cordwell 5 months ago

    Amazing! Would never have guessed what was inside that cartridge!

    MCRPG 5 months ago

    I remember the original owner of the camera was in the comments... I can’t find him/her anymore

  • Eric S
    Eric S 5 months ago

    I remember my dad and my uncle back in the day both warred over camera gear, and both ended up getting this $1200 Sony Hi-8 model. The most interesting thing about those cameras was they had infrared video transmission via a receiver connected to the TV.

    I remember my dad building a special little shelf for the camcorder to sit on above the couch so he didn't have to have it on his lap while playing home videos. Then I bought a Mini DV model from Panasonic off eBay a few years later which blew those two cameras out of the water, and both my uncle and my dad weren't very happy with their cameras any more.

    Shortly thereafter though solid state cameras became a thing and we all got 3 megapixel point and shoots that also did VGA video and we thought that was awesome.

  • Johnny Bravo
    Johnny Bravo 5 months ago

    What a revolutionary useless piece of equipment!

    ToyFREAKS 5 months ago

    Reminds me of the Codemasters / Camerica Aladdin Deck Enhancer for for the 8-Bit Nintendo. It had the majority of the generic function and I/O chips every game cartridge used, but no game ROM. It was a shaped like the standard NES cart with a socket for ROM cartridges, which you presumably buy separately. Like the Ruvi, it tanked spectacularly. It was a great idea, but lacked third party support and failed to deliver on the promise of more games. In fact, it my have been what bankrupted Camerica, even though the Game Genie was a huge success!

  • me3333
    me3333 5 months ago

    I wonder if a person could replace the tape with a section of good quality HI-8 tape if their's ever broke. I also wonder if it uses the same speed as a HI-8 machine.

  • Michael Turner
    Michael Turner 5 months ago

    Typical Sony. Rather like the Betamovie. But at least the Ruvi could play back, unlike Betamovie.

  • Linda Easley
    Linda Easley 5 months ago

    Only 30 minutes of recording time = lamest electronic product ever .
    Sony is usually a first rate company but they had their heads up their rears on this one

  • raksh9
    raksh9 5 months ago

    U wan to lecord ruvi?

  • greggv8
    greggv8 5 months ago

    It's like that removable disk computer storage system that had a drive motor in the disk cartridge but the heads were in the part the disks went in. If there's analog video going into the RUVI cartridge... hack in a Raspberry Pi Zero? A quick search turns up several analog video capture things for various RasPi. If someone makes such a hack, call it the RUPi

  • SuperFriendBFG
    SuperFriendBFG 5 months ago

    I think the logic behind the Cartridge was that they needed a way to have replaceable Tape, but in a very small form factor. If the Read/Write head is part of the Camcorder itself, all the mechanisms required for receiving a tape are back at it. So yeah it's pretty silly though. I feel like they could have used some other storage method...