JVC GZ-HM960 hands-on

Hot on the heels of its full HD GS-TD1 camcorder, announced at CES 2011, JVC also introduced the GZ-HM960 - a more affordable model that can convert 2D footage to 3D. We were lucky enough to get our hands on JVC's latest gadget at the company's UK HQ.

Heading up JVC's latest lineup of Everio camcorders, the GZ-HM960 records full HD 2D video, which can then be converted by the device for 3D playback on a compatible TV, via HDMI. The camcorder will also convert footage into a three-dimensional form to watch on the glasses-free 3D display. This 3.5in screen uses the same Parallax barrier technology that's found on Nintendo's 3DS so there's no need for any special glasses in order to see what you're filming in 3D.

The GZ-HM960 also sports 16GB of internal flash memory, along with an SD card slot which, like many of JVC's camcorders, enables seamless recording. This means that when the flash memory is full up, the camcorder will automatically switch to the SD card, and will also playback seamlessly between the two. Along with a wide angle (29.5mm) F1.2 lens, the camcorder has a 10.6-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor along with all the usual features like Intelligent Auto and face recognition. Unlike previous models, the GZ-HM960 comes with editing software built-in, so you won't have to install it on your computer from a disc.

The camcorder sports a very compact design that isn't much bigger than most of the brand's conventional 2D models. It's easy to hold and is also very lightweight so it'll take a fair amount of filming before your arm starts to ache. We found it a fair bit easier to hold than the VW-CLT1 removable 3D lens from Panasonic which can be fitted to a number of models in its range. We found these to be very heavy and balanced unevenly towards the front.

As well as a comfy design, the GZ-HM960 is easy to use and powers up as soon as you flip the screen open. Inevitably, the the shiny black finish means that the camcorder was covered in fingerprints within minutes, as was the capacitive touchscreen. The use of a 3D display is another advantage that the GZ-HM960 has over Panasonic's models, where the 3D footage can only be viewed in 2D/side-by side on the screen. The JVC's 3D display sports 920K pixels, so the resolution is pretty decent and certainly good enough to give you a good idea of what you're shooting.

The images that we saw onscreen from the GZ-HM960 were very impressive indeed, both on a large projector screen and on a 3D TV. In fact, it was hard to tell the difference between the converted images and those from JVC's GS-TD1.

As the range's flaghship model, the GZ-HM960 also sports improved Bluetooth capability, enabling direct video transfer to Android 2.1, BlackBerry and HTC Windows Mobile devices. We didn't get to see this feature in action, so we won't be able to tell you how well it works until we get the device in for a full review.

The camcorder also includes JVC's K2 audio technology which is designed to restore the lost audio in compressed files. We didn't get much of a chance to test this out at JVC's office, but we've heard its K2 technology before on various other products and if past experience is anything to go by then the new camcorder should be able to handle sound extremely well.

The device represents a relatively affordable way to get 3D without the need for a cumbersome add-on lens. However, it remains to be seen how many people will be making the switch to 3D recording just yet, although the relative lack of 3D content available on Blu-ray certainly makes it a compelling option.

The GZ-HM960 will launch in Europe at the end of February, priced at £799.

What do you think of the GZ-HM960? Will you be investing in a 3D camcorder soon?



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