When AVCHD camcorders first arrived, their gadget credibility was high but they had one gotcha which made early adoption a somewhat silly idea: it was impossible to edit the video format natively with any existing software. Since then, Ulead Video Studio 11 Plus and Pinnacle Studio Plus Version 11 have added editing support for the format, and it’s likely other mainstream apps will soon follow suit. So what about the GZ-HD7E’s connectivity? Unlike most of Sony’s HDD camcorders, it does have FireWire (i.Link) as well as USB ports. It also offers HDMI, for connection to HDTVs, and component analog – but no S-video.
However, we had enormous trouble finding a way to get the footage onto a PC for editing. JVC supplies Cyberlink’s BD Solution, which consists of PowerDirector 5 NE Express for editing, PowerProducer 3 NE for authoring to disc, and PowerCinema for playback. As the BD in the name suggests, you can use the Cyberlink software to burn Blu-ray assuming you have an appropriate burner. Since the GZ-HD7E is aimed at consumers, you can also get a Share Station for around £300. This is a docking station for burning your video straight to DVD, avoiding the problem of PC editing altogether.
The unit is detected when connected via FireWire as either an HDV or DV camcorder, depending on whether it’s set to DV downscaling or not. However, no software we tried could actually capture video in this way. Instead, we resorted to the USB link, from which the JVC can be accessed as an external drive in Windows, and found that the files have MOI and TOD extensions – a bit of a flashback to the MOD files of the standard definition Everios. We tried renaming TOD to MPG and were able to play the files in Windows Media Player, but still had no joy editing them with Ulead Video Studio or Adobe Premiere. Only Cyberlink’s PowerDirector could import the TOD files (or our renamed MPGs) and edit them. The TOD files were automatically converted and copied to another location, when opened directly from the camcorder’s hard disk.
The JVC GZ-HD7E is close to what a lot of people have been looking for – a high definition camcorder which looks to the future and ditches tapes in favour of the convenience of hard disk storage. But unfortunately, as with the AVCHD camcorders when they first came out, JVC has forgotten something important: editing. This isn’t entirely JVC’s fault, and at least the Cyberlink software supplied does the job. But if you wanted to use this camcorder for video editing more elaborate than PowerDirector can provide, you will currently be disappointed.
Overall, JVC’s GZ-HD7E is a very capable camcorder but until more applications support editing, its output will remain one for the gadget-hungry consumer rather than more serious enthusiasts.