As shown in Figure 4, the front of the camera has the camera lens and four small holes for the microphone. Like most camcorders of this size, the audio is a little faint. However, the stereo audio is a plus. There were several times in our testing that we wished this JVC had a port for an external microphone, but that is not an option with the current GC-FM1.
Figure 5 shows the back of the camcorder. Its 2” screen is bright and clear.
Below the screen are the controls, which are shown in Figure 6. The controls consist of an on/off button on the left near the top and a round scroll wheel with two buttons on either side. The buttons to the left are the record/playback button and the delete button. Those to the right are the movie/still button and the index button. The index button doesn’t seem to do anything when pressed alone. When pressed along with the delete button, it will get you to a limited setup menu where you can control the time and NTSC/PAL video output. You can also format the memory card and see the installed firmware version.
On the right near the top you can also see the charge light. On the right, near the bottom, you can also see the reset hole. The round wheel does not actually scroll. Instead, around the wheel are four arrows that can be pressed to perform tasks. Before recording these arrow keys scroll through the different resolutions: VGA, QVGA, 720p, and 1080p. When recording, these arrows cycle and control the digital zoom.
While the controls are nicely spaced, they are not necessarily easy to use. There is no tactile feedback, so often you don’t know if your button press was processed or not. This is especially problematic with the on/off button. It is recessed to prevent unwanted presses, so you must press it with your finger nail. Sometimes pressing it will register, sometimes not. The trick is to press and hold the button until the green light next to the button comes on. If you use your right hand to press the on/off button, you will be able to see the green light. However, if you use your left hand, your finger will cover the light. So if you are a left-handed person with very short nails, the on/off switch will be especially difficult for you. It just shouldn’t be this difficult to turn a device on and off!
Once you do get the unit on, it is ready to shoot almost instantly. There is not delay, which is quite nice.
The other controls are slightly raised and easier to press, however with no tactile feedback, it is difficult to tell if the button press registered or not. We found this especially problematic when taking a still photo.