Review: JVC Picsio GC-WP10 waterproof HD camcorder

Announced several weeks ago, and now in our hands at the Gadling Gadget labs – the new JVC Picsio GC-WP10. This HD Camcorder looks like a real winner on paper, but can it deliver on that promise in real life usage? Read on for our thoughts!

As I said – on paper, the new Picsio camcorder is a good looking camera – Touch screen controls, 30FPS 1080p video, stereo sound, waterproof up to 10 ft, Eye-Fi memory card support, 5MP photos, HDMI and AV outputs and a built in rechargeable battery. All for a little under $200.

Now on to the real hands-on; the camera feels like a very rugged little device, not too heavy, but plenty of signs that it’ll withstand some good outdoor fun. On the left side is a locking door that hides the memory card slot, MiniHDMI connector, MiniUSB charger/sync port and an AV/headphone jack. On the other side are physical buttons for power, lock, photo/video mode and shutter control. On top is the microphone and a tripod thread is on the bottom.

On the back is the large touch screen (resistive), and I’ll let you know right away that it is a well implemented feature. Controls are well laid out, and respond quickly. The interface is quite well designed – you switch between record and playback mode, and the background color changes from red to green, and once in each mode, you can pick video, photos or audio.

In playback mode, you are presented with a very easy to navigate photo/video browser, with content sorted by date. Video clips can be edited with a few basic options like trimming. All options respond really quickly, with no delay or touch panel annoyances.

The connector panel is covered by a sealed and locked door – and as long as you keep it clean, you’ll be able to take the camera swimming in up to 10FT/3M of water, without water leaking into the unit.

The large touch screen on the rear works reasonably well in the sun, but you’ll obviously want to keep it away from direct sunlight or you won’t see a thing.

Now of course for the most important feature – video and photo quality. For video, you can record in 1080p, 720p, iFrame and QHD. You can also select 0.5, 5 and 40 second time lapse recording, which should make for some really neat video effects.

And speaking of effects, you can record video in B/W, Sepia, negative, 24FPS film mode and slow-mo.

Video quality is actually quite good for such a small camera. The 1080p video clip you see here is recorded in H.264 with AAC stereo audio, 1920×1080, 29.97 FPS and a bitrate of around 13 mbits/sec.

Since there is no optical zoom, your only zoom option is digital, which makes for a dreadful clip, so I’d recommend avoiding that. Really quick movement results in some artifacting, and without optical image stabilization, you’ll need a fairly steady hand. Still, for a sub $200 camera, the video results really are quite good.

One other important factor to take into consideration is that 1080p video clips are big – really big. The clip above is 70MB, and editing it on a basic computer is going to be a major undertaking, so for your day to day content, I’d recommend sticking to the 720p mode.

Included on the camera is a Windows video editing and sharing suite called LoiLoScope EX – which (besides the crazy name) is a remarkably decent little package for doing basic edits. In this app, you can also do one-click uploads to Youtube, Facebook and Vimeo, as well as DVD recordings. Included in the box is a hand strap, USB cable, USB extension cable and an AV cable. You will need to provide your own SD memory card.

The Picsio GC-WP10 will be available on September 25th from most major electronics retailers. To learn more about the camera and its other features, check out the JVC Picsio product page.


How to protect your digital camera at the beach

If you’ll be tanning at the beach this summer, make sure your digital camera doesn’t also end up getting toasted. Though many camera manufacturers now make waterproof digital cameras or accessories, not everyone can afford to buy new gear just for a beach trip.

I checked in with Lindsay Silverman, Nikon‘s senior technical manager, for advice on how to protect your digital camera while at the beach.

Whether you own a SLR or a point-and-shoot, these five tips can help make sure your camera survives a day on the sand. Best of all, none of Silverman’s tips require buying a lot of fancy accessories.

What should you do if you get sand in the camera?

Use a blower device, like the ones that you would find in a pharmacy for getting mucus out of a baby’s or child’s nose. It works great for blowing off moderate amounts of sand. If the camera really took a “dusting,” send the camera in for servicing and let the experts take a look.

What do you do if the camera gets wet?

If it’s a moderate amount — let’s say from a drizzle of rain — I would just wipe the camera clean. If the camera has severe water damage, send it in for servicing.

What do you do if just the lens gets wet or gets sand on it? How do you wipe it without scratching anything?

Same as above; try using a blower to remove grains of sand.

Should you store your camera under the shade of a beach umbrella? What if you put it under a towel? Is that good because it’s out of direct sunlight, or will it overheat if it’s also in a bag?

Leaving the camera exposed on the beach can make the camera really hot. Not only will the camera get hot, the battery will also get very hot, so this is not a good idea.

Protect the camera as much as possible. What I like to do is bring a protective bag for the camera, and then I put it in a dry spot in my cooler. If you can’t do this, keep the camera in its case and put that under a towel — anything to keep it out of the sun and heat.

Should you leave your digital camera at home and take a cheaper one to the beach instead (or just use your camera phone)?
Leave a camera behind? Never! Just use common sense, and have a good time.

[Image Credit: Amy Chen]

Four new travel friendly cameras from Olympus

Good tech news tends to happen in the middle of the night. Take for example these four new digital cameras from Olympus. Not only did they make four good looking shooters – they made four great new cameras for travelers.

Two of the new cameras offer ultra-zoom lenses, and two of them let you take your camera underwater for some fantastic photos of HD video. Best of all, two of them will be available later this month!

The four new cameras are:

  • The SP-800UZ 30x ultra-zoom
  • The SP-600UZ 15x ultra-zoom
  • The Stylus Tough-6020 waterproof / dropproof / freezeproof camera
  • The Stylus Tough-8010 waterproof / dropproof / crushproof / freezeproof camera

The SP-800UZ 30x ultra-zoom

The first of the new cameras in this lineup is by far the most impressive. Olympus managed to design the world’s smallest camera with a 30x optical zoom. The SP-800UZ makes photos in 14 megapixels, and video in 720p. Its 5.0 – 150mm (28 – 840 35mm equivalent) lens is built with 15 separate internal lenses in 10 groups.

Photos can be enhanced with a variety of “magic filters”. The filters include the following effects: Pop Art, Pin Hole, Fish-Eye and Drawing (creates sketch outline photos).

The camera features a built in pop-up flash, MiniHDMI output for watching HD content on your TV and 2GB of internal memory (memory can be expanded with SD/SDHC cards).

The SP-800UZ will be available in March for the surprisingly low price of $349.99.

The SP-600UZ 15x ultra-zoom

The new SP-600UZ offers most of the features found on the SP-800UZ, but with a 15x optical zoom and a 12 megapixel sensor. One other handy difference is its ability to operate off regular AA rechargeable batteries. It will also be available in March, for just $249.99.

The Stylus Tough-6020

Olympus has always been at the forefront of tough cameras – their waterproof, freezeproof (down to -14F) and crushproof cameras are world-renowned for their durability.

The new Stylus Tough-6020 shoots in 14 megapixels, with an integrated 5x optical zoom. This camera is also the first in the Stylus lineup to offer HD video recording (720p). It is waterproof up to 16 feet of water, and can survive drops up to 5 feet. Thankfully, the Tough-6020 takes SD and SDHC cards – I was never a fan of the xD cards used in previous models.

The Stylus Tough-6020 will be available this month for $299.99.

The Stylus Tough-8010

The Stylus Tough-8010 is the tougher brother of the Stylus Tough-6020. It takes waterproofing down to 33 feet of water, drops up to 6.6 feet and is crushproof up to 220 pounds of pressure. It also adds an extra gigabyte of internal memory (2GB).

The Stylus Tough-8010 will be available this month for $399.99.

Gadling gear review – Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 waterproof digital camera

In this Gadling gear review, I’ll introduce you to one of the newest cameras in the Panasonic Lumix lineup. The DMS-TS1 is the first shock and waterproof from Panasonic. The basic specifications are very respectable – 12 megapixel photos, a 4.6x wide angle optical zoom with image stabilization and HD movies recorded in “AVCHD lite”.

Of course, what sets the DMC-TS1 apart from most other digital cameras is its ability to go swimming with you.

The waterproof rating allows you to take the camera in up to 10 feet of water for up to one hour – this is a real underwater rating, not just splashes. In addition to this, it’ll also survive falls up to 5 feet and the design also makes it dust proof.

The design of the camera is awesome – not only do you get a camera that is built to survive the elements, it also looks like it was designed to survive them. A rugged metal frame, and big buttons give it the perfect balance of style and ruggedness.

On the back of the camera are buttons for maneuvering through the menu, switching to playback or video mode and a selector dial for picking the photo mode you want to shoot in.

On the bottom is the battery compartment and memory card slot. These are both behind a waterproof door, protected by a seal. The lock/unlock slider shows a clear red warning when it is not closed correctly.

Photo performance

Photos and video made with the DMS-TS1 look good. For some reason, I did notice that the glass lens picks up more grime than most other cameras, and because it does not feature a (built in) lens cover, I’d recommend bringing a lens wipe with you.

Videos look good – the AVCHD Lite format makes very acceptable 720p HD videos. The audio does leave a little to be desired, as the camera picks up a lot of background noise.

You can transfer files to your PC, or watch them on your HDTV using an HDMI cable. No HD cable is included, so you will have to invest in a MiniHDMI > HDMI cable (about $10 from or the Panasonic Component digital cable.

The DMC-TS1 does come with a standard (non-HD) cable and a USB transfer cable. Sadly, the USB cable is a proprietary Panasonic design, so be sure not to lose it.

For most people, the Panasonic Intelligent mode will be more than sufficient – this setting has all the gimmicks you need to make good photos. In scene mode, you can select from 24 different settings. The camera features a dedicated underwater mode, as well as a couple of neat effect modes.

Day to day operation

The DMC-TS1 is fairly snappy, and does not suffer from the slow performance I’ve found on some other Panasonic cameras. Startup time is about 2 seconds, and once on, you can take photos right away. The menu system is very easy to use, and all the features can be accessed very quickly.

My only minor gripe with the operation of the DMC-TS1 is with the zoom slider button. Because it too had to be made waterproof, it is quite hard to operate, and requires a lot of pressure to slide. After a lot of zoom work, your fingers will actually hurt.

Final thoughts

I’m impressed with the DMC-TS1 – it takes all the things I like about the Panasonic Lumix line of cameras, and adds enough protection to turn it into a very travel friendly camera that will be at home on a sightseeing trip, or a day at the beach.

Obviously, the fact that it does not take regular AA or AAA batteries means you’ll need to invest in a second (or third) battery. One word of warning about batteries – the Lumix DMC-TS1 will only work with original Panasonic batteries.

One issue I do want to point out is the warranty – in reading some of the consumer reviews of the DMC-TS1, it would appear that some extra attention is warranted in keeping the camera protected. One of the things that keeps popping up is the recommendation to replace the seals once a year. This is a $140 job. Also, even though the camera is sold as being shock & waterproof, if you do drop it, Panasonic recommends replacing the seals in order to keep it waterproof. This is one of those products that may deserve the extra investment in an extended warranty.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is available in orange, green and silver. Its retail price is $379.99, but many retailers are selling it for just over $300. You’ll find the Panasonic DMC-TS1 are your favorite camera retailer or

Kodak tweaks and upgrades their pocket HD camcorder

Back in September, Gadling had one of the first real reviews of the (then) new Kodak Zi6 pocket HD Camcorder. Of course, as we entered a new year, new technology suddenly becomes old technology, and companies work as hard as they can to introduce upgrades to otherwise perfectly usable tech.

The new Kodak Zx1 has the same basic specifications of the Zi6, but adds some features that make it worth taking a second look at. For starters, the camera will include an HDMI cable, as well as a set of pre-charged batteries.

The most important upgrade though, is in the enclosure, and allows you to take the camera on your next adventure. The Zx1 is weather resistant, and should be able to cope with a bit of dirt, dust and water without turning into an expensive but cute paper weight.

The Zx1 will be available in April for $149.95 and comes in black, red, blue, pink and yellow. Optional accessories include a remote control (cool!), memory cards, a handlebar/helmet mount, and of course a lineup of batteries and memory cards.

(Via: Engadget)