JVC enters HD pocket video market with 1080p capable PICSIO GC-FM1
By Paul Ridden
October 16, 2009
With the release of its first pocket camcorder, the Picsio GC-FM1, JVC is no doubt hoping to chip away some of the success enjoyed by the Flip family. On paper JVC's effort appears to be a powerful little device - it produces full 1080p HD video, has 4x digital zoom and an 8Mp still camera. And it frees the user from the restrictions of internal memory by storing footage on SD/SDHC memory cards.
So how does the latest contender size up to the world's most popular pocket camcorder family? Maybe I would have had a harder time finding huge differences had I compared JVC's offering with Kodak's Zi8 but as Flip rules the roost at the moment, so the Flip it is.
As the Picsio is a high definition camcorder, that would seem a good place to start - whereas the very latest MinoHD and UltraHD models from Flip Video record at 720p HD at 30 frames per second (fps) the Picsio offers full 1080p HD at 30 fps. Knock the recording option down to 720p and the fps increase to 60. VGA 480p and QVGA 240p are also offered as options.
The JVC camera gives the user a choice of HDMI or AV connections for TV output whereas the Flip MinoHD and UltraHD models are HDMI only. Like the Flip models though, the Picsio sports a color two inch viewing screen, outputs via USB 2.0 and records output in MPEG-4/H.264 format with AAC audio. The GC-FM1 also benefits from digital image stabilization and a 4x digital zoom compared to the Cisco brand's 2x digital zoom.
And while the JVC camera benefits from an 8 megapixel still camera (with lower quality/size options available) and a dedicated button-based control interface instead of being menu driven, the Flip models claim a better battery life at two hours for the MinoHD and 2.5 hours for the UltraHD compared to just over an hour and a half for the Picsio.
Both brands offer claimed upload ease but without the benefit of hands-on testing, it's hard to say whether the Flip's Flipshare is preferential to JVC's iTunes and Youtube synchronization.
The internal memory of the Picsio stands at around 34Mb, which is only enough for a few seconds of HD video. So JVC stores the software needed for the PC on the internal memory and has opted for SD/SDHC memory cards to store recorded video or still images.
This might seem a little strange given the choice made by the competition but it actually makes a lot of sense. Memory cards will allow the user to keep on filming when others are scurrying around to find a computer to offload captured video onto (an SDHC card can hold up to 32Gb which should provide enough space for over five hours of full HD video).
In the spec for spec comparison, the JVC Picsio GC-FM1 would appear to have more to offer than the latest HD models from Flip Video. Whether this will be enough to pose any serious threat to the Flip's popularity, only time will tell.
JVC has recommended the retail price for the new pocket camcorder at US$199.95 but this doesn't include the cost of a memory card.