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Billed as a 'totally new concept' in camcorders Panasonic's new NV-CS1 is defintiely assured a place in the history of the camcorder... This ultra-simple and compact record-only VHS-C camcorder will be selling for just under 600 when it appears in the shops next month! No, that's not a misprint, the CS1 is a record-only machine for the price of a proper camcorder! There's nothing wrong with record-only camcorders, the very first camcorder, the Sony Betamove, launched over a decade ago was a record-only machine; so too was the first 8mm Handycam, the CCD-M8, and you may recall that in the late 1980's JVC and Amstrad both marketed record-only VHS-C camcorders, with mixed success, but all of those machines were either technically innovative, or very cheap, the CS1 is neither. Panasonic's argument is that there's a demand for an absolutely fool-proof machine -- a video version of a 35mm compact still camera if you like --  that even your old granny wouldn't mind using. We only hope granny has got a VHS video recorder as well....


Price misgivings aside the CS1 has been quite well thought out; just three buttons cover  routine operations for on/standby, stop/start recording, and tele/wide lens setting. It has an optical viewfinder, and it's in colour too.. The CS1 has a simple self-timer which records for ten seconds, after a ten second delay and, here's a clever idea,  the machine only records for as long as the button is pressed, rather like a cine camera. It should help to eliminate those accidental shots of feet and sky, when you forget to stop the recording. Traditionalists will be relieved to know that there's a little switch that changes the button back to the more familiar toggle action. All of the camera functions, including exposure and white balance, are automatic, as is time and date recording. The CS1 has additional power-saving circuitry, and because there's no replay function, or electronic viewfinder, the CS1 can operate for up to 70 minutes on a single charge. In case you get caught short, it can also be powered from dry batteries, using a battery holder which is supplied as a standard accessory. Panasonic are right, there are a number of arguments for a fuss-free camcorder but we suspect that everyone, apart from uninformed senior citizens, will need some convincing about the price. Look out for a full review soon.


One other new Panasonic product to keep a look out for is the VW-VT1 title generator. It has been designed to partner the EC1 edit controller and though price and launch date have still be to be confirmed we suspect we'll be seeing it in the late Summer/Autumn, and wouldn't be at all surprised if it sold for around 200.



The Korean comsumer electroncics company Samsung have just released details of the VPE-404, their first 8mm palmcorder which is due to be launched in the UK in September. Samsung promise that the 404 will be competitively priced, though the exact cost has still to be finalised. The specification should certainly give the competition something to think about, in addition to an 8X zoom, credit-card sized remote control and an all-up weight of 900 grammes the 404 has:

       lux low-light sensitivity

       6-mode programmes auto exposure system

       1-page/8-colour title superimposer

       inner-focus lens

       multi-speed shutter


A little closer at hand is an updated version of the VPE-807 which we reviewd a couple of months ago. It's the VPE-808 which will be raching the shops this month. The general specification is basically the same as the 807 though there have been a couple of worthwhile improvements, including the additin of a alip-on video light and sportsfinder eyepiece. The really good news, though, is the price, which at 530 is some 20 cheaper than the 800.



As we reported last month Goldstar are to introduce a VHS and 8mm twin deck in September, well, now we've had a chance to see it and we can put a little more flesh on the bones. First the price, Goldstar expect that it will sell for aournd 630. The 2-head 8mm deck is replay only, the VHS side can record directely from the 8mm deck, and it has simple edit function. The 4-head VHS deck has a built-in tuner, just like a normal VCR, and there's an 8-event/365-day timer for making unattended recordings. Other facilities include:

     front-mounted AV terminal

     audio dubbing

     twin-speed operation

     variable slow-motiuon

     simple titling facility. 


We hope to have a sample for review in the next couple of months.



The Super VHS sub-format continues to struggle and so far this year there's been a dearth of new equipment. One bright sport is the Mitsubishi HS-M1000, a stylish, sliver S-VHS replacement for the venerable HD-B82. It has just gone on sale in the UK, a full test report is scheduled for next month. It's the usual Mitsubishi blend of convenience features, and a competitive price of just under 800. Picture enhancement facilities are in abundance, they include a new digital comb filter to reduce colour and dot interference; digital signal processing for improved signal to noise ratio. In addition to Mitsubishi's simple one-key timer programming the M1000 also has:

     jog/shuttle dial

     front AV inputs

     twin SCARTS

     twin flying erase heads

     auto head cleaning

     high-speed deck mechanism

     NTSC replay

     audio dub

     16:9 recording and playback


The M1000 is one of  five new  domestic VCRs from Mitsubishi for the Spring and Summer, the others include the HS-M18 and HS-M48V 3 and 4-head mono machines, and the HS-M58 and HS-M68 which are both 4-head NICAM VCRs. The M68 has the most potential as an edit deck as it has a flying erase head, insert edit, audio dub, jog shuttle, front AV terminal NTSC qand quasi S-VHS playback. All four machines have Video Plus timer programming and an interesting new feature called 'Rental IP' . This is used when playing rental tapes; it automatically rewinds the tape to the beginning, then speed searches past the copyright warnings to the start of the soundtrack, and starts playing. When the movie has finioshed the tape is automatically rewound and ejected.


Mitsubish have also unveiled a professional S-VHS VCR, called the BV-2000, that could also be of interest to enthusiast, commercial, business and institutional users. The outline features include PAL and SECAM play and record, hi-fi sound, NTSC replay, twin flying erase heads. Froma serious users point of view other essential facilities include:

     chroma phase control

     colour level control

     timecode editing facilities

     RS-232 interface


The RS232 port onthis machine is arguably the most  important feature as it allows the machine to be controlled by a PC, using a variety of editing and control software. A suitable editing package has already been developed by Syntronix DTV who can custom build two and three machine systems to customers individual requirments. The BV-2000 is available now  for 2,200 (plus VAT), editing software starts at just under 1,000.



Spring has finally arrived with first early crop of Canon camcorders coming into the shops. There's three new machines so far this year, two E-series 8mm compacts, and a Hi8 palmcorder. The most ditinctive feature on the E300 and E500 is a pop-up 4 watt video light that bears more than a passing resemblance to the 'pop-up' flash units on Canon's EOS SLR cameras. The E300 is a slightly portly mono machine with a 10X zoom, title generator, 3-mode program AE and the customary twisting handgrip and sportsfinder eyepiece. The price, which is 700, is a little on the high side for Canon, even taking the novelty video light into account. The E500 has the same basic shape and spec as the E300 but with the addition of a 12x zoom and stereo sound, it will sell for 800 or less. Look out for a full terst report on the E300 next month.


The UC2 Hi  is an upgrade of the UC1 Hi, palmcorder, with a number of detailed picture and operatrional improvements. These inlcude digital signal processing for better colour rendition and lower noise levels, and a large liquid crystal display on the left side of the machine, showing the various control, mode and status indicators.  Other features worth noting are:


     three-speed 12x zoom

     Control L socket

     stereo sound

     6-mode auto exposure

     digital effects

     stereo zoom mike

     1-lux low light sensitivity

     detachable IR remote


The UC2 Hi should be on sale by the time you read this for just under 1,300.



Look out for a new name on replacement camcorder batteries, they're Millennium, an American company who are a division of Gates Energy Products, one of the largest manufacturers of  rechargeable batteries in the world. Millennium have batteries to fit just about every make or type of camcorder, including older models, and even two-piece portables from ten years ago, though some of them are on special order. Millennium also produce rechargable batteries for a wide range of other products, including portable and cordless phones and toys. All Millennium batteries come with a year's guarantee and prices for camcorder packs start at under 30.



All new JVC camcorders built from this year onwards --starting with the GR-M3 and including the four machines previewed last month -- will be able to communicate with PC computers running specialised diagnosic programs, this is intended to help speed up servicing and alignment procedures. The RS232 interface for the JVC Service Bus System is accessed by the machine's AV socket and allows the computer to read and ammend data stored in the camcorder's EPROM (erasable programmable read-only memory), which controls many of the machines higher functions, more importantly it can also be used to operate the machine's transport systems. Service engineers will be able to hook up their PC, via a telephone modem, with JVC's main service computer, for more detailed fault analysis. In addition to faster and more efficient servicing this new interface could be used as a direct control link -- like Sony's Control L or Panasonic's 5-pin --  for automated editing systems.  JVC have confirmed to us that this is technically possible but say they have no plans at the moment to develop an edit controller of their own, though there's nothing to prevent third-party software companies from developing editing systems for JVC camcorders.


Some late news from JVC in Japan. They have just launched a new video titler called the JXT-500. It looks like a sophisticated versio of the Sony XV-T33 Video Sketch, with an electronically sensitised graphics tablet ; this is used to directely draw or select designs from one of three graphics memories containing several dozen pre-prepared patterns. It also has an alphanumeric generator, for creating text displays. Other features include a three-channel audio mixer and full S-Video compatibility. No details yet about a PAL version or price but they're selling  in Japan now for the equivalent of a little under 400.



There are no less than three new camcorders on the way from Hitachi over the next few months. The first is likely to be the VM-2500, a full-size VHS machine aimed at serious, semi-pro and commercial video movie-makers. The main features include:

     clip-on video light

     digital signal processing

     character generator

     6-speed shutter

     neg/pos image switching

     8x zoom


As we speak this machine is being scrutinised by the VC test team and a full report will appear next month, in the meantime if you're interested, the 2500 is expected to cost 900.


The two other camcorders are the VM-E57 and VM-H57, due for launch in the UK around September time. Both machines are alike in appearance, though the E53 is a low-band machine, whilst the H57 is a Hi8 model. The basic specifications are also similar and include 8x zoom lenses with eletcronic enlargement up to 24x, digital signal processing , programmed auto exposure systems, credit-card sized remote and a title generator. The E53 has a 320k pixel CCD and mono sound system; the H57 has a 470k CCD and hi-fi stereo sound. The anticipated retail prices are expected to be in the region of 700 and 850 respectively.


A large question mark hangs over the possibility of a fouth camcorder for 1993. Details of  the VM-H38 appear in Hitachi's latest catalogue but there's some doubt over whether or not it will actually reach the UK. For the record the H38 is effectively the Mk II version of the popular H37, launched earlier in the year. The two ultra-slim Hi8 machines are broadly similar, though the H38 has slightly revised cosmetics plus the added benefit of a digital image stabiliser.



Sanyo's recently announced VME-X30P 8mm palmcorder marks the company's  very welcome return to the video editing scene. We're already expecting this new machine to be  one of the most exciting new products for 1993, and it's not even due to be launched for another month. Right at the top of the list of important features is the unique LCD monitor-handset which comes with the machine as a standard accessory. The handset, which connects to the machine in place of the normal electronic viewfinder has a 2.2-inch colour LCD screen which can be used to monitor recording and playback, it can be hand-held, or fixed to the machine's accessory shoe. The handset also has a full set of controls, so the machine can be remotely monitored and operated. However, the most significant feature associated with the handset is a 5-scene edit controller. This is a little like the Random Assemble Edit system fitted to the most recent JVC machines, and it instructs the machine to replay








(c) R. Maybury 1993 1604




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