Duel Deck VCR Review:JVC HR-DVS1U
$2,000

JVC Company of America

1700 Valley Road

Wayne, NJ 07470

(800) 526-5308

www.jvc.com

JVCs pairing of a MiniDV player/recorder with an S-VHS player/recorder could very well make some Mini DV camcorder owners ecstatic. For Mini DV shooters at all experience levels who wish to edit lengthy Mini DV program material, finish to Super VHS or make dubs to or from either format, this unit could be worth the $2,000 list price. The myriad of record and playback functions combined with its home-VCR friendly features like VCR+, make this integrated deck an excellent choice for the home entertainment system as well as a video production tool.

Unfortunately, the unit lacks some essential editing features, taking the HR-DVS1U out of the running as a serious linear editing system. Its best use may be for editing projects to S-VHS from Mini DV raw footage, or making S-VHS dubs of DV footage.


A picture is worth?

The HR-DVS1U shines in several areas. DigiPure Technology (see sidebar) shows where JVC has been putting its expertise. The S-VHS video quality of this deck is beautiful, and digital is, well, digital. Added to the mix is S-VHS ET (which records an S-VHS level signal to a standard VHS cassette) making video output from all aspects of the unit viable.

The advanced tape transports are robust, and control function response from the remote works well. The remote configuration is logical and easy to decipher with clearly divided task areas. All functions are accessed by remote and on screen menus. Those added to the hardware are standard tape transports, dub direction, tape dubbing, insert edit, audio dub, deck selection and eject. You are required to go through menus to select and configure input preferences.


Indubitably

The dubbing features are easy to use. Tape Dubbing involves determining direction (DV to S-VHS or S-VHS to DV). Just hold down the Dub button for two seconds to activate the dub function, and let the machine do the rest. Normal Dubbing is simply assemble editing with the record deck starting from record/pause (no preroll).

In Normal Dubbing mode, our edits were clean and accurate. The only drawback of this dub function is that the playback deck keeps rolling after the record deck is commanded to end the dub. After the record deck stops, you have to select the playback deck before it will receive any commands from the remote.

Audio Dubbing works great (on both the Mini DV and S-VHS sides), but there is no audio level meter or headphone jack included. Monitoring must be done through the analog audio outputs. Additionally, the unit lacks a mike input. These omissions make us think that although JVC added the audio dub feature they do not really expect it to be used to any extent. We were disappointed to find that only one of the decks can be recorded to at a time, so you cant record simultaneously from an outside source.


Ill Take Random Assemble Editing for $2,000 Alex

Now comes the coolest thing about the HR-DVS1U: random assemble editing. This is an automated editing feature based on an edit decision list (EDL), served on eight program pallets with eight events per pallet (for a total of 64 edits). The HR-DVS1U makes short work of editing DV to S-VHS with transition effects. In addition, the Mini DV side provides a list of playback effects that can be added to the outgoing signal, which include Sepia, Black and White, Strobe, Classic Film and Video Echo. We found that the transition effects use a freeze frame at the end of the first clip.

To perform a random assemble edit, you put the S-VHS deck in record pause at the in point. Bring up the random assemble edit program list. Enter the opening transition effect (i.e. fade from black), time the in and out of your Mini DV source shot. Next, add the transition effect that will take you into the next shot. When you reach the end of the EDL, let loose the HR-DVS1U so it can shuttle, assemble and transition all the shots on that list. This feature is very accurate, usable and addicting. The EDL and batch editing are nothing new, but it is great to see these functions available at this level.

Titling functions are not on board, but the insertion of a standalone titler through S-Video I/O is supported.


Happy Couple?

At a list price of $2,000, we feel that the unit is lacking some key features. At this price we would have liked to have seen audio metering and monitoring, a mike input and user definable preroll for audio inserts.

Although we take exception with some of the omissions in the hardware layout of the HR-DVS1U, we do feel this integrated deck will find a happy home with many Mini DV videographers. The editing features alone will foster creativity. The quality of DigiPure Technology and S-VHS ET make mastering your pristine DV footage to analog nearly painless. The transports seem hardy and we feel they will withstand the rigors of editing for years.

JVC is definitely on the right track with the HR-DVS1U and with a glance at the professional edit decks in their roster they could make this family of integrated format decks untouchable.

TECH SPECS

Format: Mini DV and S-VHS Dual Deck

Video I/O: IEEE 1394, S-Video, Composite (RCA), R/F

Audio I/O: RCA stereo

Other Inputs/Outputs: cable box control

Other Features

Mini DV deck: Time code, Playback

Effects, Player/Recorder, Audio Dubbing, Insert Editing.

S-VHS deck: Player/Recorder, IndexSearch, Repeat Playback, Video Stabilizer, Select the Soundtrack (Hi-Fi or Normal), TBC/NR, Digital R3, Active Video Calibration, S-VHS ET, VCR+, Tape Dubbing, Audio Dubbing, Insert Editing, Edit from camcorder.

Dimensions: 17 (Width) x 5 (Height) x 15 3/8 (Depth) inches

Weight: 16.5 pounds

STRENGTHS

  • Random Access Editing
  • Built-in transition/playback effects
  • High quality S-VHS recording (DigiPure technology)
  • Robust Transport

    WEAKNESSES

  • No audio level metering or monitoring
  • No headphone or mike jacks
  • Transitions use freeze frame
  • Expensive

    SUMMARY

  • A solid dual deck with lots of fun edit features, but a hefty price.
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