The portable video market has become a hot category now that Apple has joined the party with the iPod Nano. Flip video recently came out with the Mino HD which can capture at 720p. Not to be outdone, the JVC Picsio GC-FM1 can shoot in 1080p and takes 8 Megapixel photos. The image quality is quite good for such a small pinhole camera but the frame rate leaves a lot to be desired.
We tested the camera first at 1080p and found that the frame rate was choppy. Hoping that it was merely that the PC playing it back couldn’t handle the 1080p footage, we uploaded it to youtube but it was still choppy. Reducing the capture rate to 720p removed that problem but doing that negates the whole point of it being a 1080p camera and any advantage the unit has over the Flip Mino HD (720p camera).
The image quality was quite good although it did suffer in low light situations and was very grainy indoors. In bright sunlight, the footage looked great but panning the camera or moving around too much tended to cause some choppiness in the footage, even at 720p. You can’t expect a camera like this to compare to the image quality of a handicam so considering the price and the technology involved, the images it produced were on-par with expectations.
The design of the unit is focused on ease of use. There are very few buttons and no on-screen menu. The start up time is quick so once you turn it on, you are pretty much ready to go. There is little lag between pressing the record button and starting to capture when doing video but a slight lag when taking image that will mean you need to be very still to avoid the picture being blurred.
Images can only be taken in 4:3 format and as JPEGs. Video can be 4:3 or 16:9 and is captured as a Quicktime .MOV file. This makes sharing the files extremely easy and transferring them to a PC or YouTube is a breeze.
The Picsio has no internal memory for storage so you will need to purchase an SD card in order to use the device. This makes the storage space only limited by your budget and also makes transferring the movie files very easy. You can use the supplied USB cable to transfer or pop out the SD card and stick it in a reader.
What little internal memory the unit does have is very small and has content pre-loaded on to it already. When you connect the device via USB for the first time you will be prompted to install the media management software that is stored on the internal memory. This software allows you to easy transfer content, transcode or upload to YouTube. It is easy to use but not entirely necessary. The manual is also on the device rather than a printed copy included in the box.
The device is lightweight and small in size. It is comfortable to hold and use and the button layout is rather intuitive. Without reading the manual, you will pick up how to use the device very quickly.
It is better than the Flip Mino but only marginally. The screen is bigger than the Mino and image quality is slightly better. However, the Mino has internal storage so you don’t have to buy additional memory if you don’t wish to.
For a quick little device for recording video on the fly, it works quite well. Don’t expect the image quality to blow you away but if you want something small and funky, this is something to look at. It is reasonably priced at $299 but keep in mind that cost will increase slightly when you take into account the cost of an SD card.
Currently only the black model is available with the blue and purple to be released at a later date.