Lightning Review: JVC PICSIO Video Camera

JVC weekend gadgetCompact HD video cameras are all the rage at the moment, and JVC's entry, the PICSIO GC-FM1, promises 1080p recording, image stabilisation and 8MP still photos from a small, shiny device.

The Price: $299

The Verdict: I could probably learn to like it more over time, but after using it for a couple of weeks, my general feeling is that I much prefer the Flip.

There are a few reasons: the biggest being the controls. While the Flip Mino HD has one big red button that stops and starts, plus some touch sensitive controls for volume and zoom, the buttons on the PICSIO aren't quite touch sensitive, but aren't quite mechanical either. Turning the device on sometimes takes a couple of attempts, and there's precious little feedback from the buttons, which can be a bit frustrating here.

The second thing that's kind of frustrating is storage - the PICSIO records to SDHC cards, which means you can never run out of storage, right? Well, a 2GB card means you get about 19 minutes of footage. That's not a lot. To get a full hour, that means you'd need to get a 16GB card, which aren't exactly cheap. All of a sudden, your $299 purchase has blown out to around $500 if you get a decent quality card.

The actual video quality though is pretty good. Unless you zoom in. Or shoot in low light. But they're both issues common to these types of cameras. Still photos also suffer in terms of definition and focus - make no mistake, you're better off with a dedicated pocket snapper for photos if you want quality shots. If you're happy with taking photos on your phone though, these are on par, if not slightly better.

Image stabilisation is a welcome addition - it's a digital stabilisation though, so it's not fantastic, but it does work.

There are a few areas the PICSIO decimates the Flip - the screen is much bigger and therefore easier to see; there's an HDMI and AV output rather than just USB, and there's a macro switch on the side, although the benefit in performance using it is negligible.

Overall though, I think I prefer the Flip for its ease of use and inbuilt storage. The step up to "1080p" with the PICSIO just isn't enough - the lens isn't that much better to really benefit from the spec, and ultimately I find the inbuilt storage and ease of use more important for this class of device. But if you've got a crapload of SD cards lying around, the PICSIO could be a good option for you.

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