JVC Portable HD Recorder

JVC should soon release its CU-VH1, a portable high-definition player/recorder intended to complement the company's GR-HD1 and JY-HD10 HDTV camcorders.

Priced at $1999, the CU-VH1 uses standard MiniDV cassettes and records via the HDV digital recording format at 720p. Features include HD component video inputs and outputs on BNC connectors, S-Video inputs and outputs, an iLink digital interface, a USB port, an SD memory card slot for still photos, and a pop-up 3.5" high-rez LCD monitor. The machine can accept digital signals "straight in" as well as analog video. It's compatible with several formats, and can play back tapes recorded in 720p/30fps (MPEG-2), 480p/60fps (MPEG-2) and 480i/60fps (DV).

The HDV is an industry-wide standard, not a proprietary development from JVC. The machine should therefore find wide acceptance in studios and for field recording and editing uses. An attractive feature for home theater fans is the CU-VH1's video scaling function. According to advance publicity, it can convert some formats to others for display on available monitors. JVC claims that it can frame-double 720p/30fps high-def recordings to 720p/60fps, or convert 480p/60fps or 720p/30fps signals to 1080i/60fps HD. For use with NTSC monitors, the machine can down-convert 480p to 480i. Another flexible feature is the ability to playback 16:9 material in 4:3 letterbox format.

To expedite editing tasks, the CU-VH1 allows capture of thumbnail images of taped material for quick reference. One drawback for consumers is that the CU-VH1 isn't equipped to accept signals from DTV set-top converter boxes, likely a concession to copyright concerns on the part of programming providers. Claimed battery life is 1.5 hours between charges.