First look – the new JVC Everio GZ-HM550 HD camcorder

Back in January, JVC announced their new 2010 lineup of Everio HD camcorders. One of the best equipped cameras from that announcement is the GZ-HM550. The basic specifications are impressive – full HD video (1980×1080), Bluetooth, 32GB internal storage + SD memory expansion, low-light 10.69 megapixel CMOS sensor, 9 megapixel photos (with flash), 10x optical zoom, 200x digital zoom, 600 fps high speed recording, time lapse recording, face detection and simultaneous full HD video and photo shooting.

Make no mistake – this is not a camera designed for quirky YouTube clips (though it obviously can do one-touch uploads to YouTube). This camera is where consumers go when they want professional grade video. At $799.95, it is logical to make comparisons to those little Flip HD cameras, and wonder where the price difference comes from – but in the coming days, we’ll bring some close up coverage of what this little camera can do, and how the quality of its recordings are in a completely different league.

My initial impressions of the camera are great – it turns on in about 4 seconds, as soon as you open its screen, though I could do without the little jingle (so I turned that off). In normal operation, the camera puts itself in a “quick restart mode”, which lets you close the screen, and turn it back on in under a second – perfect if you’d like to save the battery.

Controls are pretty standard – zoom and snapshot (photo) on the top, video start/stop on the back and a whole host of controls on and behind the screen. The touch sensitive “laser touch” slider lets you scroll through the menus quickly – but does take a little getting used to.

The camera comes with video (composite and component) cables, USB and a small wall charger. Behind the screen are jacks for MiniHDMI, component and AV. USB and power are on the back, above the battery.

At a mere 0.67 lbs. (300 grams), the camera is extremely lightweight – making it perfect for travel. The included battery is rated for a little over an hour, so an investment in several extra batteries would be wise. Its 32GB internal storage is good for just over four hours of HD recordings.

Recordings can be copied to a PC, saved to a JVC Share Station, viewed on a TV (in SD or HD) or even recorded to a Blu-Ray disc.

The Bluetooth feature is a first on any consumer camcorder. With additional Bluetooth devices, you can:

  • Control the camera with a Windows Mobile or Blackberry app
  • Record audio with a Bluetooth headset
  • Listen to the camera mic with a bluetooth headset
  • Send photos to a Bluetooth enabled printer
  • Geotag photos and video with a Bluetooth GPS receiver

As I mentioned earlier, we’ll take a closer look at all those features in additional reviews later this week. In those reviews we’ll of course also show you some video and photo content made on the camera – but I can already reveal that it is stunning stuff.

The new JVC Everio GZ-HM550 is now shipping from your favorite electronics retailer with an MSRP of $799.95.