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REVIEW

JVC HR-J715 NICAM VCR

 

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Thereís nothing intrinsically wrong with JVC VCRs, far from it, but over the past two or three years theyíve all been fairly ordinary, at a time when other manufacturers have been busting their corporate guts to get their products noticed, by lowering prices, or larding them with features and gadgets, or both. JVCís Ď95 model range marks a welcome return to the fray, led by the HR-J715, their new VHS flagship.

 

Itís a real crowd-pleaser, with features for heavy-duty time-shifters, home cinema addicts, even video movie-makers who arguably do best out of the deal. All of the routine facilities are there in abundance, including stereo hi-fi sound, NICAM, index search, child lock, twin SCARTs and multi-speed replay. The remote control handset will operate the basic functions (volume, channel change and standby) on half a dozen or more of the top makes of TV and thereís a hyper-bass facility, to beef up low frequency sounds; it works wonders on movie soundtracks piped through tinny TV speakers. It has a Video Plus+ timer with program delivery control (PDC), and a nifty feature called review. The review button on the front panel flashes when a time-shifted recording has finished. When the owner returns home they simply press the button  and the J715 switches itself on, rewinds the tape to the start of the programme and begins replay, itís a bit like the VCR equivalent of a telephone answering machine.

 

Camcorder owners, especially those with VHS-C or VHS machines will like this VCR a lot. In addition to front-mounted AV sockets, insert edit, jog/shuttle dial and audio dubbing it has a gizmo called RA Edit. RA stands for random assemble, basically it means the J715 can be programmed to replay up to eight designated scenes, in any order, and at the same time control the record-pause function on another VCR connected to the J715ís AV output. It even works with VCRs not fitted with remote pause sockets, though you have to fork out an extra £60 on a multi-brand IR remote adaptor.

 

PERFORMANCE

It definitely needs an on-screen display, though the LCD on the handset does a reasonably good job of showing timer and Video Plus+ codes, so they can be checked before being sent to the machine. Thereís no manual recording level control, so the flashing bargraphs on the front panel are just annoying. However, it more than makes up for these relatively minor niggles with a picture resolution of over 250-lines, low, low noise levels, bright and sharp-defined colours. Still and slomo replay are rock-solid plus, it sounds good too. The stereo hi-fi tracks have a broad, flat response with no significant coloration, and little in the way of background noise. With a good signal off air sound through the NICAM decoder is clean as a whistle.  The J715 has classic design written all over it, this is the one the other manufacturers are now going to have to aim for in the increasingly competitive £500 sector.

 

VERDICT

PLUS

Itís got the lot, good all-round AV performance, flexibility, a sensible price, and it doesnít look too bad either. This is the machine to buy, to cover all of your video recording options, and hopefully put off the day when youíre going to have to upgrade, for as long as possible.

 

MINUS

It has remarkably few bad points, the lack of an on-screen display is a nuisance, especially if you canít read the machineís display from across a room, and serious music buffs will be disappointed by the auto-only recording level control. Multi-speed replay doesnít extend to reverse frame advance and slomo, but only serious movie-makers will be worried about that...

 

JVC HR-J715: £500

 

Features         stereo hi-fi sound, NICAM, hyper bass, SP/LP recording, Video Plus timer with PDC, instant timer,  R. A. Edit, insert edit, audio dub, child-lock, multi brand TV remote, auto operation

Sockets           rear: twin SCART AV, stereo line-audio out (phono), edit control (minijack) aerial in/out (co-axial). Front: Composite video and line-audio in (phono)

Dimensions                 400 x 348 x 94mm

 

Picture quality            5

Sound quality  4

Build quality               5

Features                     5

Ease of use                 4

Value for money         95%

 

CAPTIONS

 

* No hidden surprises here, what you see is what you get.

 

* These three buttons control the RA Edit system, the first one switches it on, the middle one Ďmarksí the edit in and out points, and the one on the right starts sequenced playback and recording

 

* Multi-purpose jog/shuttle control. The outer shuttle ring gives coarse control over replay speed and direction whilst the inner jog dial steps the tape forward a frame at a time. The shuttle ring also doubles up as the fast forward and rewind control, and the jog dial changes channel

 

* Front AV terminal; input sockets for stereo line audio and composite video. A very useful facility for camcorder owners, saving them from having to grub around with the rear panel sockets

 

* The famous Ďreviewí button, this flashes at the end of a timed-recording. Press it once and the machine rewinds and replays the recorded programme

 

THE OPPOSITION

Product                       Price    HE Score        Comment

Akai GS-815               480      --                      Another top-rated stereo machine with                                                                                some useful picture enhancement                                                                                         facilities, that work well on LP                                                                                              recordings. Itís also the first VCR in                                                                                    history to have a motorised tape flap,                                                                                  great fun...

 

Mitsubishi HS-M60   480      --                      An enormously capable and very well-                                                                                 equipped NICAM mid-ranger with better                                                                than average AV performance and a very                                                               friendly disposition; one for the                                                                                            technically challenged, perhaps?

 

Philips VR-747           460      --                      Welcome upgrade of the VR-727,                                                                                         featuring a fast, responsive deck and all                                                                              the convenience features you could wish                                                                              for. Another very easy to use machine, a                                                                             good price too.           

 

JVC UK LTD, JVC House, 6-8 Priestley Way, Eldonwall Trading Estate,

Staples Corner, London NW2 7AS.

Telephone 081-450 3282

 

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1994 0812

 

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