VIDEO CAMERA 1995

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REVIEW

 

HEAD

SWINGING SIXTY

 

INTRO

Mitsubishi’s latest stereo mid-ranger has some useful movie-making features

 

COPY

Spring has arrived a little early this year. For us at Video Camera the season of new life and growth begins not with the first daffodil or cuckoo, but with an equally predictable annual event, the appearance of Mitsubishi’s latest top-end VHS video recorder in the March or April issue. This year it’s the turn of the HS-M60, the replacement for the HS-M68 which was phased out towards the end of last year. The general specifications of the two machines are quite similar in that they’re both camcorder-friendly NICAM stereo machines, but the M60 is clearly much more than just a simple cosmetic revamp. Two things in particular have changed, the location of the deck mechanism, and the price.

 

Mitsubishi were one of the last of the major manufacturers to go mid-mount, but even they couldn’t ignore the trend, but that’s all it is, a trend, with about the same impact on AV performance as the equally trendy fake feet VCRs sprouted a few years ago. The price change is a lot more interesting; the M68 launch price was £600, the M60 costs just £480. You would be forgiven for thinking that they’ve trimmed back heavily on the features to get the price down, not so, there are differences but we doubt if many people would feel they’re worth £120. The ones we spotted were mostly to do with the audio system, the M60 doesn’t have a manual recording level control or headphone socket, for example, and it doesn’t have a Quasi S-VHS replay facility, but the ones we rated most highly are still there. They include stereo hi-fi sound, audio dub, multi-speed replay controlled by a jog/shuttle dial, insert edit, a front AV terminal and microphone socket. They’re in addition to more mundane things, like a Video Plus+ timer, child lock, NTSC replay and on-screen display. There is one wholly new feature on this machine, though, (and on most of their other most recent models), and that’s auto set-up.

 

Auto set-up, as the name implies, does away with the tedious business of having to read the instruction book to find out how to set the clock and tuner. All you have to do with the M60 is plug it in, connect it up to the TV, find the video channel on the TV, and press the auto set-up button, and you don’t even have to open the manual, everything  you need to know is printed on one side of a single page quick set-up guide. It says it takes around ten minutes, our sample did it in five. Rental PB (playback) isn’t exactly a new feature -- it was called Intelligent Rental Position on the M68 -- but we still think it merits a mention. Just press the rental PB button before loading a rented movie tape. The machine then rewinds the tape to the beginning -- in case the previous user forgot -- then it fast-forwards to the beginning of the soundtrack, before going into playback mode. When the recording has finished it automatically rewinds the tape, ejects it and switches off.

 

There’s been another name change, this time for Mitsubishi’s tape tuning system. It was called Intelligent Picture or IP on the M68, now it’s known as the ‘tape optimiser’, the method of operation and overall effect seem about the same though. You won’t find edit terminals on Mitsubishi VCRs but some machines have an edit control facility of sorts. Sadly for most of us it only works with other, similarly equipped Mitsubishi VCRs, but if you’re fortunate to have one, it can speed up manual VCR to VCR assemble editing, with the record/pause function on one machine slaved to the play button on the other. You won’t need another Mitsubishi VCR for AV dubbing or insert editing, this is tied into the machine’s linear tape counter. The M60 also has a record-search facility, Mitsubishi coyly call it ‘CM Edit’ the CM meaning commercial. Needless to say they play it down as a feature designed to make it easier to edit out adverts wouldn’t go down too well with commercial TV operators.

 

PERFORMANCE

AV performance is largely unchanged from the M68, our test sample easily resolved 250-lines with the tape optimiser in the on position. Switching it off resulted in a marked reduction in detail and an increase in noise; there seems little point in having the switch, other than for dealers to demonstrate the feature. The picture is clean with commendably low noise levels. Colour fidelity was good but they looked very slightly under-saturated, not enough to be concerned about though. The jog/shuttle dials on the front panel and remote handset give full control over tape speed and direction, still frame and slomo are both very steady.

 

The stereo hi-fi soundtracks are as clean as the M68; the lack of a manual recording control isn’t a problem, though some users, notably hi-fi buffs and the more adventurous movie makers might find it inconvenient. Sadly they didn’t see fit to remove the bargraph level displays as well, which wink pointlessly in time with the soundtrack.

 

VERDICT

The M60 is a worthy successor to the M68, it’s yet another well-specified top-end machine that’s targeted at the most demanding VCR applications of home cinema and video movie-making. This sector of the market has become increasingly competitive of late and whereas a year ago the M68 had few serious rivals, the M60 now faces some tough competition from Philips and the other Japanese majors.

 

VCR SPECS

Make/model                         Mitsubishi HS-M60

Tape format         VHS

Guide price                      £480

 

TAPE DECK

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

Timer                               8-events, 31-days

Remote control                full function

 

VIDEO

System                             PAL SP/LP, HQ

Replay speeds          x1/28, x1/10, x1/5, x2, x7, x14 ( both directions)              

 

Main facilities

Slow motion          yes  

Multi-speed           yes   

Insert edit:          yes             

Jog/shuttle          yes

On-screen display          yes   

Videoplus          yes

Index search          yes   

Intro Scan          no

Instant timer          yes   

LCD remote          no     

PDC timer          no     

Repeat play          no

Record search          yes   

NTSC replay          yes

Quasi S-VHS replay          no     

Auto play          yes

Auto head cleaner          yes   

 

Additional facilities

auto set-up, blank search, time search, rental play, tape optmiser, quick look  (momentary picture search during fast wind)

 

AUDIO      

Stereo Hi-Fi          yes   

Audio dub          yes   

Man level control          no     

Level display          yes

NICAM sound          yes   

Line output          yes   

H/phone level control          no     

     

 

GENERAL

Sockets

Front AV terminal          yes   

Edit terminal           yes (propriety)

Microphone          yes   

Headphones          no

SCART          twin  

Syncro edit          no

 

Dimensions (mm)          380 x 94 x 335

Weight (kg)          5.4

 

PERFORMANCE

Resolution         250-lines

Colour fidelity         good

Trick play stability         good

Colour bleed         none

Audio performance         good

Edit functions         good

        

VC RATINGS

Value for money         8

Ease of use         8

Performance         9

Features         8

---end---

R.Maybury 1994  1811

 


 

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