JVC has always been the innovator and this time is no exception—it has developed the SRHD1500US Blu-ray and HDD Recorder. You now have the capability of recording high-definition video onto either a 500 GB hard drive or a recordable Blu-ray disc.
by Chuck Gloman
Available in two models, the HD1500 (500 GB) and the HD1250 (250 GB), this 11-pound wonder looks just like a Blu-ray player, but now you have the ability to record directly from the hard drive, or any other input directly to a 25 GB recordable Blu-ray.
The 100-page manual does a good job of explaining the deck's capabilities and the multilayered menu becomes a breeze once you get use to it. The front of the unit has inputs for an SDHC card, FireWire IEEE-1394, and USB 2.0 along with the usual display and access buttons. This means you can record to and from an SD card, a Blu-ray disc (if you hold the copyright), and the internal hard drive.
JVC SR-HD1500US (top) and rear panel (bottom) The rear of the unit has BNC video in/outs; RCA audio in/outs; S-Video in/outs; and component RCA, HDMI, and Serial RS-232C outputs.
In testing the unit, one of the things the HD1500 lacks is a tuner. I connected my HD DVR to the composite inputs of the HD1500 using the supplied three-color RCA cable with an included RCA-to-BNC adapter and sent an episode of Ken Burns' "The Civil War" to the deck's hard drive. Viewing the signal via the HDMI out to a Samsung 47-inch 1080p LED (HD) monitor, the signal was degraded because I was recording using a composite rather than component signal. Changing to the S-video did make the signal clearer, but nothing compared to the HDMI.
After two hours (real time), the recording was on my hard drive. Pressing the dubbing button on the remote, I selected the Video-to-Disc option, inserted a blank Blu-ray, chose BDAV (no menu) and the high-speed dubbing option, added the file I wanted to record and the disc was not able to record the program. I selected another program from the air, recorded it to the hard drive and still had no luck.
Undaunted, I grabbed a DVD and chose the Disc-to-Disc option. The 90 minute DVD loaded in about 10 minutes, I inserted the blank Blu-ray and again it was unable to record. I then tried recording on the "AF" speed and the process worked. The manual says to make sure your discs support high-speed dubbing—both my blank DVD and Blu-ray did not.
If you import a signal directly to the hard drive like some AVCHD footage I recorded onto a SDHD card, that process works well. I tried the same thing with HDV footage transferred via the FireWire cable and also had success with the recordable Blu-ray, although not in the high-speed mode.
Choosing the Navigate function, you can edit any footage before it is recorded as well as design your menus if you choose the BDMV (menu with auto play). Like any disc player, you must finalize your disc before it will play elsewhere and the HD1500 is no exception. The Blu-rays created on the JVC deck played well in other Blu-ray players and Hollywood blockbusters look fantastic in 1080p via the HDMI cable.
So, is it worth spending over $2,550 for a half-terabyte hard drive and Blu-ray recorder? If you are shooting in a high-definition environment and want the end protect to play in something other than a computer—this is the only way to make it a reality. You cannot shoot in HD and post to a DVD; the capacity and quality are not there. If you downconvert, those people who don't have access to Blu-ray will view a SD image. But if you really want the end product to display all of the nuances of 1080p, you need Blu-ray and currently this is it.
I shot some 1080p footage with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and connected my CF card reader to the USB port of the deck and had stunning footage on the hard drive which I converted to Blu-ray.
So if you want REAL 1080p results, you need the only machine to my knowledge that accomplishes that—the JVC SRHD1500.
Chuck Gloman is program director of the TV/Film Department as well as a member of the faculty of DeSales University. He may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.