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JVC Picsio Full HD Pocket Camcorder

Pocket camcorders have been popularized by companies like Flip Video (now Cisco) and RCA (now Audiovox) focused on personal and portable devices (see previous post), but the market is growing with entries from companies from professional imaging, including Kodak, Sony, and now JVC.

The JVC Everio line of hard drive and flash memory camcorders has now been joined by a new Picsio line of pocket camcorders, with a light and compact design, colorful cases, and serious power: Full-HD 1080p video recording and 8 MP still photos.

The JVC GC-FM1 pocket camera is $199, and comes in three colors (black ice, blue steel, purple passion), with a 2 inch display on a snazzy case with "jewel-like geometric pattern and chrome accents." It has a light and compact form, rectangular with rounded edges (~ 3 7/8 x 2 1/8 x 11/16 inches, 3.4 ounces), textured down the sides for a better grip.

The Picsio shoots video in four resolutions -- widescreen 1080p (1440 x 1080) and 720p (1280 x 720), and standard 4:3 aspect ratio VGA (640 x 480) and QVGA (320 x 240), stored in MOV files in H.264 format. This gives some 5 3/4 to 86 hours of recording on a 32 GB card.

And it shoots still photos in four formats -- 8M (3264 x 2448), 5M (2592 x 1944), 2M (1600 x 1200), and VGA (640 x 480), 4:3 aspect in JPEG files.

Plus, it includes a focus switch for shooting close-ups in Macro mode.

The camera includes 128 MB built-in internal memory, plus a microSD card expansion slot for up to 32 GB.

The camera has a miniUSB port for recharging the built-in (non-removable) battery, and for transferring data to a computer. The camera memory has pre-installed MediaBrowser LE software to download and edit your videos, and share online. Or you can display directly on a television via the AV or HDMI connectors.

The Picsio has dedicated buttons on the back to make most functions easy to perform, including switching between Video and Still Image mode, between Recording and Playback mode, and displaying the Index (thumbnail) view during playback. The power button is also on the back, and smaller than the others, so it takes focused attention to turn on. There's also a Setup menu (press Delete and Index simultaneously).

However, switching between the video and photo resolutions is a bit obscure -- press the left control ("<") twice in succession to cycle to the next setting.

Compared to the Flip Mino HD and RCA EZ209HD Small Wonder, the JVC Picsio has a narrower field of view, which brings you closer into the scene. And the full 1920 x 1280 HD resolution (compared to 1280 x 720) not only gives a larger images, but also results in sharper images with more detail when scaled down to lower resolution.

Of course, these small cameras still have limited optics, with a small lens and no optical zoom. And they are so light that it's easy to shoot shaky video, so you need to focus on bracing yourself -- which is why they have a tripod mount. The JVC Picaso specs actually list an image stabilization feature to reduce camera shake, though it's not discussed in the manual, and I did not see significant differences compared to other cameras.

JVC Picsio is a cake-and-eat-it-too kind of device -- a pocket-size camera with many of the features of full camcorders, including shooting videos and photos, full HD to web resolutions, and even with macro mode -- all in a comfortable and somewhat snazzy design.

See my Holiday Tech Gift Guide 2009 for more on pocket camcorders and other fun gadgets.

See my Digital Camcorders Gallery for more on pocket camcorders and other digital camcoders.

Find the JVC Picsio Pocket Camcorder on Amazon.com

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This entry posted on January 8, 2010.

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