JVC Portable High-Def Video Player/Recorder Page 3

PLUSFrees up camcorder for shooting. Handles navigation thumbnails or still images on memory cards.

MINUS Duplicates camcorder functions.

Even though it took less than 2 minutes for the player to rewind the entire 40 minutes recorded on my tape, tape will always be a poor substitute for random access on an optical disc or a hard disk. And as good as high-definition looks, you do give up certain features by playing your high-def MiniDV tapes on the GR-HD1 or the CU-VH1: JVC provides no frame-by-frame playback, slow motion, playback zoom, or audio dubbing for the progressive-scan HD and SD modes - features you do get for standard-resolution (interlaced) MiniDV tapes.

The CU-VH1's remote includes zoom and pan controls. Though you can't zoom into a high-def video, you can use the snapshot button on the player or the remote to save high-resolution stills (at up to 1,280 x 720 pixels) to the MMC or SD card, and you can zoom and pan images all you want. jvc cu-vh1 back

Besides playing standard MiniDV tapes, the CU-VH1 can dub a tape from the GR-HD1 or any MiniDV cam connected by an optional FireWire (i.Link) cable. It can also make standard MiniDV recordings from other A/V devices using the composite/S-video and stereo audio inputs (which double as outputs). In this mode, you can set the video recording for SP or LP. The latter ekes 90 minutes out of a 1-hour tape or 120 minutes out of an 80-minute tape.

If you're thinking of recording a high-def program on the CU-VH1 from a terrestrial tuner, a cable box, a satellite receiver, or a high-def hard-drive recorder, forget it. Since the deck's component-video connectors are used only for output, I wasn't able to record HDTV programs from my high-def cable box. JVC says that even if a tuner has a FireWire output, the HDTV signal is not compatible with the HDV format.

At the moment, there's little reason to buy the CU-VH1 unless you already have one of the JVC high-definition camcorders. But once other companies introduce high-def HDV cams, competition is bound to lower prices even as capabilities expand. Then the CU-VH1 could blossom as an indispensable sidekick for budding videographers. Meanwhile, let me just say how exciting it is to accept the Academy's Best Documentary Award for Waterfowl of Flushing. I couldn't have finished it in time without JVC's helpful CU-VH1. Fly Away Home, move over!