JVC Picsio GC-FM1 At a Glance
The good: Small and stylish, good video quality.
The bad: Clumsy, hard-to-use design.
JVC Picsio GC-FM1 Specs:
Solid Video Performance
One place where JVC did deliver with the Picsio is in the video department. The camcorder has an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor and while it only takes 1440 x 1080 video (not the 1920 x 1080 that's becoming more common), the video was well saturated and the colors reproduced well. I did notice some digital noise (or graininess) in some of the indoor shoots, especially in lower light, but nothing unusual for a pocket camcorder.
Video samples of the Picsio can be found here.
The Picsio also offers video recording at 1280 x 720p, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 resolution if you're desperate to conserve memory card space. Personally, I'd stick to the 1080p mode and forget the rest.
Poor Photo Shooting
You should never expect much in the photo department from a pocket camcorder and while the Picsio boasts higher resolution stills than most models at 8-megapixels, it’s very sensitive to hand or subject movement. If you and your subject aren't very still, your images won't be in focus.
You have multiple quality settings on the images if you're so inclined: 8-megapixels, 5-megapixels, 2-megapixels, and VGA.
Small and Stylish, But Clumsy
Let’s start with the good news about the design. The Picsio is one of the smallest pocket camcorders on the market at 2-1/8 x 3-7/8 x 11/16 inches and a mere 3.3oz. It’s smaller and lighter than either the Kodak Zi8 or Pure Digital’s Flip UltraHD. It’s also, in my view, better looking. Obviously this is subjective, but I think JVC did a nice job on the style touch (although if you saw how I dress I'd understand if you're leery about taking my advice on this front). The Picsio comes in three colors: pink, black and blue, with a sparkly square grid pattern on the front.
Now for the bad news: the buttons are hard to operate. They’re small, which is part of the problem (although unavoidable) but also flush with the unit and frequently unresponsive. I found myself having to press them multiple times before getting the setting I want. This became a real inhibitor while shooting as I couldn't get the setting I wanted fast enough. You have to really dig your fingernail into the buttons to get them to respond.
If the controls weren't so clumsy, the Picsio would be quite simple to use. There's no on-screen menu. All the features (such as there are) are accessed using the external buttons.
The Picsio has a 4x digital zoom which is common in models in its class. However, it zooms far smoother than other models, which typical start-and-stop as you employ the zoom. That said, when you reach the maximum 4x on the digital zoom, the video is packed with so much digital noise (see here for example) that it's not much help.
Part of the trade-off in a unit as portable as the Picsio is the lack of a flip-out USB plug. Instead, you're cabling the old fashion way. On the plus side, you can charge the Picsio's battery via USB. There's also an HDMI output, although the cable isn't included.
The camcorder offers a pared down version of JVC's Media Browser software built-into the camcorder. It's functional enough, though not as good as the software on either the Flip or Kodak. A
Picsio: Close, But No Cigar
If you’re in the market for a pocket camcorder with about $200 to spend, you’ve got better choices than the Picsio GC-FM1 (such as the Kodak Zi8 and Pure Digital Flip UltraHD). They won’t be as small and as portable as the Picsio (not that they’re terribly cumbersome either) but you won't be fumbling with their controls as a scene unfolds in front of your frustrated eyes.