Monday, 26 August 2013

JVC Everio review and how to move Media Browser on new computer

Few months ago I got a really nice JVC Everio HD (GZ-HM50) camera that is perfect for my purposes in the right budget (~120$).

From the physical point of view I can only complain about the fact it is too small and light weight and this makes it quite unstable in the hand that results in shaken image. In the same idea, it is quite impossible to use the zoom in/out switch without giving the camera small shocks that become big image shakes in the footage. But maybe it's just me and in time I'll learn to move smoother :)
Then, the battery life is not very generous, everybody complains about this but for me it was enough until now.

From the software point of view, it comes with Pixela's Everio MediaBrowser CD that is ok as layout and options, and serves my purposes.

To my surprise though, the camera stores the movies in a strange format (.mts) and even you can see them in VLC media player at almost perfect quality, if you use the Everio Media Browser to make a DVD out of those .mts files, you'll see a really noticeable decrease in image quality. Actually, the most annoying thing is that the movies appear to have missing frames and any motion in the movie appears quite fragmented (jerky). This is because apparently the .mts files are recorded at 60 frames per second and the DVD output in NTSC allows only 25 f/sec So probably the rest of them are lost. Anyway, unpleasant no matter the technical reason behind: add the jerks to the shakes and you can get sick and dizzy when watching the "productions".

It is true that there are 2 more options in the output format from Everio MediaBrowser, one being AVCHD (which appears to be camera's native format) and another one being blu-ray; but I have neither the hardware to play AVCHD nor the hardware to record blu-ray to see if the quality is indeed better.

Actually, the only real perfect HD quality I can get out of this camera is when I play it through the HDMI cable directly on TV. Even playing the .mts in VLC and connecting the laptop to the TV through HDMI cable results in a bit lower quality. Finally, the lowest quality is the DVD created with the Everio software. But maybe this is how it is suppose to happen and regular DVDs cannot do HD.

Now, to the actual reason that brought this post into existence:
After installing the EverioMedia Browser 3 on the laptop I lost the installing CD; not a big deal I thought, for sure I'll be able to find it on JVC / Pixela website in the support section. WRONG!

These days, I switched to a new and much more powerful laptop and I wanted to reinstall the camera software. Surprise! The software cannot be found on JVCs / Pixela sites; you can find there only some upgrades to it that I tried and they don't install unless you have the software on CD previously installed.
(Not to mention that there is a mess on Pixela's site concerning the software version you need for a certain model; for example what in the world is Media Browser BE versus MediaBrowser? No indication on the website on why you should get one or the other.)
Anyway, I tried various variants of upgrades from Pixela's site; they didn't work. Then I tried some full versions from torrents; none of them worked for my camera model.

Then I said I'll try the last resort and find a program that is able to move an installed application (with all it's registry settings and everything) to a new computer. This was possible because I still had the original Everio MediaBrowser 3 installed on the other computer.

Obviously I looked for freeware and found PickMeApp that claimed to do this installed on a stick. PickMeApp scanned all the installed programs but, to my dismay, it found every other installed application on the old laptop BUT the one I needed. I double checked in window$' add/remove programs and Everio was there, so it is unexplainable why PickMeUp didn't get it... I uninstalled PickMeUp as it wasn't useful in my case.

Then I realised I could go even lower and decided to copy the full PIXELA folder from the old computer (Program Files) to the new one (Program Files (x86)) then try to run the executables directly to see what's happening.
I was prepared to see the program failing to launch for not found dll's or registry settings and I thought I'll bring from the old laptop whatever is missing, on demand (as it complains), in a long and painful trial-and-error process. Besides, the old laptop was Window$ XP whilst the new one Window$ 7 64 bits, so I really expected to have problems.

So, in doubt, I double clicked the MediaBrowser.exe on the new laptop and surprise: It worked without any other intervention!!! I authored few DVDs since then and the software worked without a hitch. Just make a shortcut to it wherever you wish.

I tried also  MBCameraMonitor.exe that loads in the tray, detects the camera once it is plugged in on USB and takes the appropriate action as you select on Camera screen (create disc, direct disc, upload etc). This one works too very well and could be probably automated to load at windows start-up; I don't bother as I prefer to launch it only when needed.

I didn't try the MBCheckVersion.exe (the 3rd and last executable in the application) though; I assume it is the software updater and there is no point to try it as the application is not really installed in the registry and any update would fail anyway.

So, all in all, this is a possible solution to move your Pixela MediaBrowser original instalation from one computer to another if you lost the original CD (as I have seen tons of people complaining on the internet about loosing their Everio software CD).
It is true that you still should have the software on the old laptop to have where to get it from, so it is not an universal solution, but still...

And, the final moralizing phrase is:
Thanks to the brainy managers form Pixela/JVC that decided that, instead of offering proper post sale support for a product that we paid for once, they should speculate and get money out of those that happen to loose the lousy CD. 

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