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JVC Quietly Tests S-VHS-ET Camcorders

Although not openly discussed at its recent dealer meetings, JVC has quietly returned to the Super VHS camcorder business with two models that use the ET (Extended Technology) recording system.

JVC has low-keyed the products, which it began delivering in March, as it conducts market tests with a few select accounts. One of those, Circuit City, recently promoted the models in ad fliers.

Jerry Barbera, JVC consumer video division general manager, said JVC will evaluate the sales performance of the two models and is “not currently looking to expand distribution” to other accounts. So far, sales “have done very well, better than anticipated,” he said, adding that JVC is juggling very limited inventory levels.

JVC exited the S-VHS format for camcorders before the development of the ET system two years ago. At the time, Barbera said JVC expected mini DVC digital camcorders to begin to appeal to the same audience as S-VHS products.

But the following year, JVC introduced the first S-VHS home VCRs using the ET system, which enhances the versatility of S-VHS by allowing high-band S-VHS resolution levels using standard VHS tape.

Barbera said JVC has seen very strong growth in the S-VHS VCR category since the arrival of ET models, which opens new possibilities for S-VHS ET camcorders. “We are finding that there are two different customers [for S-VHS and DVC camcorders],” he explained. “Not everyone is ready for digital yet.”

The new models include the GRSXM515 ($749.95 suggested retail price) and the GRSXM915 ($849.95).

The GRSXM515 offers a 2.5″ color LCD screen, black-and-white electronic viewfinder, built-in auto light, SnapShot mode, remote, 16x optical, 320x digital zoom lens, digital image stabilization, programmed auto exposure settings, and a package of wipes and fade effects.

The GRSXM915 adds a 3″ LCD screen and color electronic viewfinder.