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JVC Everio GZ-HD7: Hi-def for munchkins

Just when you thought you were too tiny to sustain the weight of a hi-def camcorder, along comes JVC to make camcorders fun for midgets again...

In a show dominated by buzz over the future of high definition, it's no surprise that all the major camcorder manufacturers felt compelled to throw a fighting dog into the pit at CES. The JVC Everio GZ-HD7 looks rather special, as it seems to combine the portability of the petite Sanyo Xacti HD2 with the picture qualities of a full-sized HDV camcorder.

Though spec sheets often write cheques that products can't cash, on paper the HD7 looks good. The camcorder's three progressive-scan CCDs and effective resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels are impressive, but the actual chip resolution of 976x548 pixels means that the full hi-def resolution is interpolated using a pixel-shift mechanism. This sounds rather Heath Robinson to us.

The camcorder itself is a good size for covert documentary filmmaking or casual holiday footage. It has the advantage of looking more serious than rivals such as the Canon HV10, but whether it can compete with the stunning footage we've seen from Canon's microbeast is unknown. The HD7 is scheduled for a US launch in April, priced at $1,799 (about £900). A European launch should follow soon afterwards -- we'll keep you updated as we find out more. -CS