JVC Picsio GC-FM1 camcorder

Looking like an accessory from a P Diddy video - before the recession prompted an abrupt halt to the flouting of bling - JVC's oddly named Picsio is outwardly set to stun with its glitzy pearl-like finish that is more night club than camera club.

It's a close relative, design and layout wise, of rivals from Flip Video in the Ultra HD and Creative in its Vado range of upright, mobile phone-sized camcorders. Like them, the JVC offers direct YouTube upload but, unlike them, doesn't incorporate a handy flip out USB arm. The GC-FM1 model is described by its manufacturer not as the mini camcorder it is but an "HD memory camcorder" - as if it were about to perform feats of recall worthy of mind trickster Derren Brown.

While the plastic shiny surfaced Picsio, just 17mm in depth, looks slippery enough to slide out of your palm when you're trying to hold it single-handed and steady for filming, in fact the JVC features a tactile ribbed chrome edging at the sides to prevent such an occurrence and digital image stabilisation (when recording video only) to boot. When gripped it feels solid enough to withstand the odd bump and knock, and portably lightweight too at 95g. Like your mobile it slides easily in and out of an inner coat pocket.

Like others of its budget-priced ilk, at a UK suggested price of just £129.99, JVC hasn't seen fit to include an optical zoom with the Picsio, just a cursory 4x digital variety with which to attempt to extend the creative horizons of the 30mm equivalent (in 35mm terms) fixed lens. We also get 1440 x 1080 pixels, widely compatible MPEG4 format high-definition video with mono sound offered at a frame rate of 30fps.

Like Sharp and its range of dual camera devices, JVC users also have the option of shooting non-interpolated 8-megapixel stills, courtesy of an 8.17MP, 1/3.2 inch CMOS sensor. Both are committed to removable SD or SDHC memory cards (up to 32GB) - you'll need to buy your own though as neither is included in the box - which gives users the advantage over fixed capacity hard drive incorporating models since you'll be able to expand the amount of memory available at will.

As an indication that it's a device that is designed to be used "on the go", a non-removable internal battery is charged via USB port rather than mains and lasts for 96 minutes if fully charged. Not long perhaps but long enough, as most users of the Picsio are going to be shooting in short bursts as they would video on a camera phone. USB Cable, AV Cable, Hand Strap and PC Software are provided with the unit.

Despite the small overall form factor the FM1's manufacturer has found room to squeeze in a 2-inch screen for composition and playback, the backplate not so unconsciously resembling an iPod with its thumb-operated four-way navigational control pad directly beneath the LCD. Visibility is better than competitors such as Sony's MHS-PM1 and the on-screen image remains commendably free from ghosting even when panning around the dimmer recesses of day-lit interiors.

Verdict

Available in a garish pink, blue or much more attractive black, as with any mobile sized camcorder, users shouldn't expect quality to match that from a camcorder with a larger lens, optical zoom and a price tag five times as much. That said, viewed in a small window on your PC desktop rather than on a wide screen flat panel TV, quality is more than adequate for purpose - being that this is designed more as a tool for shoot-from-the-hip video bloggers than budding Spielbergs.

With ambitions beyond its slightly grainy lower light footage then, HDMI connectivity is offered alongside the (more common at this level) AV out port. Overall the JVC Picsio GC-FM1 gives a slightly better than average performance for its price, whilst being both fun and simple to use.



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