VIDEO CAMERA 1994

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

RIGHT PANTASTIC

 

INTRO

If your camcorder has a 5-pin editing terminal then pay particular attention to this review of the new Panasonic NV-HD700 VCR, it's what you've been waiting for...

 

COPY

Have Panasonic finally solved the age-old problem of video editing?  In a word yes, but only for those fortunate or far-sighted enough to have a Panasonic (or Philips badged) camcorders fitted with a 5-pin edit terminal. The NV-HD700 is the very first domestic VHS video recorder to have a built-in edit controller, that operates both the VCR, and a suitable camcorder. This system, which Panasonic call Edit Station, should not be confused with similar-sounding facilities on a couple of Hitachi and JVC VCRs launched during the last two years. The VT-F780/S890 and HR-S6800 also have on-board edit controllers but they only work as source decks, replaying designated scenes, so a second VCR is still required, to record the chosen segments. Panasonic have taken a completely approach, making the HD700 the record or destination VCR, with a camcorder as the source deck.

 

Panasonic's method has just one serious drawback, it can only work when the source machine, ie the camcorder, has a suitable 5-pin or RMC edit terminal, so unfortnuately it's no use whatsoever to owners of Sony equipment, or any other make of camcorder for that matter. The good news is that Panasonic have told us that they now intend to fit edit terminals as standard to all new camcorders launched this year, and not just the more expensive models, as was the case in the past.

 

It would be wrong, however, to dismiss the HD700 out of hand, just because you haven't got a Panasonic camcorder. It still deserves consideration as a high-performance stereo VCR with serious applications as a general purpose edit deck, and top-notch home cinema component, but this is as good a moment as any to broach the tricky subject of price. The HD700 goes on sale this month for 800, which makes it just about the dearest non-Super VHS video recorder on the market, bar one Sony model, and a couple of oddball machines. Clearly in the case of the HD700 you're paying for the edit facility, so bear that in mind if you're not going to be able to use it, because there's plenty of very well qualified stereo machines on the market right now, including other Panasonic models, that cost a good deal less than 800.

 

That said, you do get a lot of VCR for your money, and in addition to hi-fi sound, NICAM and some superb trick-play facilities, the HD700 is loaded with editing goodies. There's a front-mounted AV input terminal, with extra sockets for edit control headphones, a microphone and a syncro-edit lead. It has proper insert edit, which drops new video segments cleanly into existing footage, without affecting the mono soundtrack; audio dub, and AV insert editing, where sound and vision are both replaced at the same time. There's optional sound on search, a surprisingly rare featurte that allows you to hear what's on the soundtrack at all replay speeds, this could come in very useful for making accurate audio dubs.

 

There's no shortage of convenience features either; there's NTSC and Quasi S-VHS replay, Video Plus+ timer programming and, a first for Panasonic, a proper on-screen display system. They're one of the last, if not the last big-name manufacturer to have an OSD on their VCRs and it's the final nail -- if one were needed -- in the coffin of their barcode timer programming system which has now been allowed to quietly dissapear. Talking of timer programming, the manual input system used on the remote handset is suspiciously similar to one developed by Sony, where entries are controlled by a row of rocker switches, and why not, it's very simple to use, and works exceptionally well. Rounding off the features list we must give a quick mention to the twin SCART sockets on the back panel, a near essential for any machine with home-cinema credibility; and a very neat jog/shuttle control on the fold-down front panel. It's one of the best designs we've come across lately; the outer shuttle ring has no bias spring, so it's possible to leave it set to a particular speed, without it returning to the neutral position, it's just a shame it's not fitted to the remote handset as well.

 

SIDEBAR 1.  EDIT STATION

 

 

PERFORMANCE

In the best traditions of Pansonic VCRs, picture resolution, colour reproduction and noise levels are probing the limits of the VHS performance envolope. In the SP recording mode our sample resolved a full 250-lines, exceeding Pansonic's own modest estimation of 240-lines, noise levels were well below the average for a top-end stereo machine, colours are lifelike and very well defined. Some of this may be due to a new automatic tape tuning system which optimises the recording and replay circuitry according to the type and grade of tape being used.AI Crystal View Control takes just 1.5 seconds to work, a good deal faster than Akai's Intelligent HQ and Nokia's ASO for example, and it also checks the condition of the tape heads, and stores the data so it can keep track of performance.

 

Trick play stability is very good, and it's possibnle to almost completely eliminate jutter in the still and slomo modes; the deck changes direction unusually quickly, with none of the usual clicks and whines.

 

The two hi-fi stereo tracks have flat, even response, just a little background noise, but that's normal. The dubbable mono linear audio track is clean, again some noise but less that is usual, and there's little or no duisturbance at edit points, something that has been apparent on Pansonic machines in the past.

 

SUMMARY

We have no hesitation in recommending the HD700 to owners of suitable Panasonic camcorders, though we would be remiss not to add at least one qualification. It concerns the price; 800 is a lot to pay for any VHS VCR, so unless the editing facility is really going to earn its keep you would probably be better off buying a more modestly-priced machine and a stand-alone edit controller, like the EVC1. If, however, you have the wherewithall, and the right connections the HD700 has got your name on it!

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model        PANASONIC NV-HD700           

Tape format         VHS

Guide price          800  

 

TAPE DECK

Max playing time            8-hours (E-240 tape LP mode)

Timer                               8-events, 31-days

Remote control               full function IR and 5-pin RMC

 

VIDEO

System                              PAL SP/LP, HQ

Replay speeds                  still, x1/25, x1/10, x1/2, x 2, x7, x15 (both directions                      

 

Main facilities

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

Insert edit:          yes             

Jog/shuttle          yes

On-screen display          yes   

Video Plus+          yes

Index search          yes   

Intro Scan          yes

Instant timer          yes   

LCD remote          yes   

PDC timer          yes   

Repeat play          no

Record search          no     

NTSC replay          yes

Quasi S-VHS replay          yes   

Auto play          no

Auto head cleaner          yes   

 

Additional facilities

built-in 10-scene edit control system, on-screen display, sound on search,

 

AUDIO      

Stereo Hi-Fi                 yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Man level control          yes   

Level display          yes

NICAM sound          yes   

Line output          yes   

H/phone level control          yes   

     

 

GENERAL

Sockets

Front AV terminal                    yes   

Edit terminal           yes, 5/11-pin RMC

Microphone          yes   

Headphones          yes

SCART          twin  

Syncro edit          yes

 

Dimensions (mm)     430 x 118 x 395

Weight (kg)              6.7    

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution                   >240 lines (280-lines Quasi S-VHS) 

Colour fidelity             very good

Trick play stability      very good

Colour bleed                none

Audio performance      very good

Edit functions               excellent

 

VC RATINGS

Value for money        8

Ease of use                8

Performance              9

Features                    10

         ---end---

R.Maybury 1994  0402

 


 

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