JVC has taken on the challenge of the pocket Internet camcorder in a much more serious way than other big-name manufacturers. The PICSIO GC-FM2 brought a dollop of quality and some novel features into the genre, and won our favour as the best attempt yet at out-flipping the Flip. Now, the PICSIO GC-WP10A introduces something unique. This is the first pocket Internet camcorder you can use underwater.
The WP10A is waterproof to a depth of 3m, so will be perfectly safe in a swimming pool – if you’re allowed to use it – or for shooting fish in the shallows by the beach, or your own tropical tank. However, the door covering the A/V ports is only kept shut by a catch, which we found a little too easy to open. It’s far less secure than the tightly locking catches on Panasonic’s underwater camcorders, such as the SDR-SW21. When closed, the door keeps its seal well, but it’s potentially possible to knock it in the wrong place. This will only happen if you're not careful, though.
The WP10A is otherwise very similar in specification to the FM2. Inside is a healthily sizeable 1/3.2in CMOS sensor with 5.13-megapixels. Although the top video format is Full HD at 1,920 x 1,080, the entire resolution of the sensor only comes into play when shooting stills, which can be captured at 2,592 x 1,944, or 1,920 x 1,440. Like the FM2, there are many different video recording modes available. Alongside the top Full HD option, which records at 25 frames/sec, there’s a 720p alternative, which runs at 50 frames/sec for smoother motion. There are also two versions of 960 x 540 (one quarter of Full HD). The iFrame version is designed to be compatible with Apple iMovie, whilst the QHD version is more PC oriented.
There are time-lapse options as well, allowing you to grab a frame every half, five or 40 seconds. These are then stitched together to create a movie. However, you will be constrained by the battery life, unless you add an external power supply. This will require having the waterproof door open, and JVC doesn’t include a separate supply in the box as the unit uses a standard mini-USB 2.0 connection, so recharges when attached to your PC.
The WP10A doesn’t have any memory on board, instead requiring removable SD media. The top video data rate is around 12.5Mbits/sec, so an 8GB card will be enough for approximately 1.5 hours of footage. But there’s support for SDXC as well, allowing you to use cards up to 64GB in size.
The FM2’s chief innovation is carried forward, too. The main controls are operated through a 3in touchscreen, although there aren't that many of them, as to be expected in a camcorder in this class. You can control the 4x zoom, although this is only digital so reduces image quality when used. You can also add a small selection of video effects, such as black and white, posterisation and sepia tone. There’s a wind cut filter, too, although this probably won’t be very effective underwater.