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JVC Everio GZ-MG330

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

First and foremost, the whole of the MG300 series are very compact camcorders, measuring only 4.5 inches wide by 2.7 inches tall by 2.2 inches deep, and weighing about 12.7 ounces with battery. That's small enough to be of little consequence, even if you hold it for several hours. Unlike the touch screen, joystick, or jog dial controls used by other manufacturers, JVC has a unique Laser Touch control bar a clever blue light LED vertical touch sensitive strip at the left of the 2.7 in LCD screen, which lets you quickly skim through all the menu selections.

You make the actual selections with five small, recessed buttons at the bottom of the LCD. This arrangement is surprisingly functional.

Frequently needed items sit at the top level of the menus, including video quality, gain control (for low light shooting), aspect ratio (16:9 or 4:3), scene exposure modes, and backlight compensation.

One level deeper into the manual settings menu reveals exposure compensation, manual focus, white balance, shutter speed, and metering options. The camcorder offers a typical bundle of features for the money. It uses a 1/6 inch charge coupled device sensor with 680.000 pixel resolution pretty conventional for a standard definition camcorder along with a 35x zoom lens and 2.7 inch wide screen LCD monitor.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, no viewfinder is present. It records MPEG-2 video in four quality modes with varying bit rates. Ultra Fine (8.5Mbps), Fine (5.5Mbps), Normal (4.2Mbps) and Economy (352x240 at 1.5Mbps). Though recording time increases as you decrease bit rate, quality also degrades, and Ultra Fine quality isn't so good that it can afford to decrease.

With the 30GB hard drive, the camcorder's recording times range from about 7 hours in Ultra Fine mode to just over 37 hours in Economy for the 60GB models, that doubles to 14 hours and 74 hours, respectively. You can also record video and stills to a Micro SD card. JVC includes a composite video or stereo RCA cable for TV playback, and bundles a CD of CyberLink software for transferring your video content from the camcorder to your Windows computer for further editing. You can also simply copy the files to your Mac or PC.

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