Of the four biggest names in the camcorder business, JVC has always been the most quirky. But the company’s maverick status has also allowed it to pioneer some of the more interesting trends. The upright palmcorder format was launched by JVC, and its Everio range was the first to use a hard disk for recording in the consumer market. JVC is also the only one of the Big Four to compete directly with the pocket Internet camcorder format epitomised by the Flip. However, its first attempt, the PICSIO GC-FM1 was somewhat mediocre. With the second incarnation, the PICSIO GC-FM2, JVC hopes to put things back on track.
The FM2 is significantly different to its predecessor. Chief amongst its innovations is a 3in touchscreen, which fills most of the back of the device. This takes over the entire gamut of functions and settings, with a power button on the side the only remaining discrete control. In camcorder mode, the video preview only fills a portion of the screen at the top, with the remainder containing the controls.
Having the preview only at the top of the display seems like a waste, although this is mostly dictated by the necessity for video always to be shot in the correct orientation. There aren’t that many functions to control, either. You can trigger record and zoom, although the latter only offers 4x digital telephoto, not optical, so will sacrifice resolution when used. There are a few manual settings available, including a selection of digital effects. A Wind Cut filter can be enabled, too. The FM2 even has image stabilisation, something no other models in this class offer, although you can’t turn this off.
You also have a modicum of control over exposure via the Touch AE function. This now familiar function allows you to indicate the reference point for metering by touching it within the frame. This only affects exposure, however, as the lens is fixed focus. The animations that accompany each new menu screen are a tad time consuming as well, and could do with being toned down.
You can switch the camera to use most of the display, but strangely, the FM2 only grabs 2.7-megapixel stills in this mode. The other function that uses the screen in landscape mode is the video and stills playback interface. This provides a conventional thumbnail grid and plays back your clips to fill the entire area.