VCR Co-Pilot: Does It Work?

VCR Co-Pilot: Does It Work?
SEATTLE - If you have trouble programming your VCR, you'll be interested in a new device that claims to eliminate the confusion in three easy steps.

It's called the VCR Co-Pilot, and it's billed as the fastest, easiest way to record your favorite TV shows.

As soon as we saw the commercial, we had to find out: Does it work?

Casey Stoner was skeptical, but curious.

"I figured it was just like any other infomercial that is just too good to be true," Stoner said.

Now with the VCR Co-Pilot, you're supposed to be able to program your VCR with the slide of a dial. And Casey agreed to be our guinea pig.

"Turn on your VCR and insert a video tape," she read from the instructions. "Your TV does not need to be on to record."

So, we turned the VCR on and the TV off.

Next, we need to set the record start time.

You use a pen or pencil tip to set the digital clock, and a sliding lever is used to indicate the day you want to record. Two dials control the start time and stop time.

For our test, we want the VCR to start recording at 2:30.

The Co-Pilot must be pointed at your VCR no more than 20 feet away.

At 2:30, the record button came on and it began scrolling through numbers 1 through 77 until if found the code for this particular VCR.

The unit works by scanning dozens of frequency codes until it finds the code to your VCR. Once it finds the code for your machine, it sends an infra red signal to your VCR to start recording, much like your remote control would do. When it's time to stop recording, the co-pilot scans for the code again, and sends the signal to "stop".

In our test, it turned it off right at the time it was supposed to. We rewound the tape, and Voila!

"It came on just fine! It recorded it perfect!" Casey said. "Can't get any easier than that! I'm very impressed."

The VCR Co-Pilot lets you set the recording times in 10-minute increments. In order to record the entire program without missing anything during the "code scanning", you're advised to set the start and stop time a little earlier and a little later than you want to record.

Your TV has to be on the channel you're recording so you cannot watch another channel on the same TV while you're taping. But as our tester points out, most people only want to tape one channel anyway.

Casey also commented that the instructions were easy to follow.

So does it work? Thumbs up for this one.

The VCR Co-Pilot costs between $30 and $40 depending on where you go. We paid $29.99 at the "As Seen On TV" store, the same price we were quoted at a local Bartell's.

The Longs drug store we called charged $34.99. You can find them online for as high as $40. You may also find them at some Ace and True Value hardware stores.