A long way from the squat, heavy Everios of yore, JVC's Everio GZ-X900 is a lightweight, slimline, memory-card camcorder, with high-definition (1080i AVCHD) video, high-resolution (9-megapixel) still photo capability and, unfortunately, a high price to match (about £900). A distinctive design and some unique features make it stand out from the crowd.
Given that JVC once proudly labelled itself 'the inventor of VHS', you might have assumed the company would try to cling on to tape formats for as long as possible, but JVC made a comparatively early jump to hard-disk storage with the original line of Everio camcorders. And, while the new GZ-X900 eschews hard disks in favour of SD memory cards, JVC continues to innovate in other areas.
A unique optical image stabiliser design, for instance, places the OIS array in front of the Konica Minolta lens rather than behind it -- you can actually watch the mechanism doing its thing if you tilt the unit from side to side. The idea is that the stabilisation works throughout the entire zoom range, and the stabiliser seems to do its job pretty well, keeping gratuitous wobbling to a minimum.
Also on offer is an intriguing slow-motion setting. In fact, there are three levels of smooth slow motion -- all available via the handy mode dial on the unit's rear edge. It basically works by increasing the number of frames per second to 100, 250 or 500, slowing down the motion by 2, 5 or 10 times respectively. There are a couple of drawbacks to this system though: resolution is lowered exponentially (to 480x270 pixels, 480x116 pixels or 640x72 pixels, depending on the amount of slow motion applied), and only very short bursts of slow motion can be captured.