Cutting-Edge Camcorders Page 3

The Short Form
JVC.COM / 800-252-5722 / $900 / 2.625 x 2.75 x 4.25 IN / 13.4 OZ WITH BATTERY AND LENS CAP
•Excellent video quality. •Generous recording time. •Never buy tape again.
•Inferior still-image quality. •Long (8-second) startup. •No external mike input, earphone jack, or eyepiece viewfinder.
Key Features
•$900 •30-GB drive for 7 to 37 hours of video •SD slot (card not included) •21/2-inch foldout/rotating LCD viewscreen •25x optical zoom •LED light, speaker, remote •outputs composite video and stereo from single-pin connector; S-video; USB 2.0 •CyberLink software for Windows; Capty MPEG Edit EX for Mac
The GZ-MG30's still-image resolution is only 640 x 480 pixels, VGA quality or about 300,000 pixels - disappointing in an age of inexpensive high-rez cameras. JVC offers a step-up model, the GZ-MG70 ($1,100), that takes photographs at up to 1,600 x 1,200 pixels, equivalent to about a 2-megapixel digital camera.

One of the things I found especially helpful was the dedicated Info button. It told me how much time was left on the battery. And it showed me a pie chart of free vs. used space on the hard drive and how many hours and minutes were left in each of the four recording modes.

DVD CREATION Unlike camcorders that record directly to time-constrained mini DVDs, the Everio relies on your having a relatively new computer with a DVD writer. In fact, sooner or later you'll have to copy video you've recorded to an external device so you can make room for new video on the hard drive. Though there's no FireWire (i.Link) output on the Everio to accommodate digital copying to a standalone DVD recorder, there is a lightening-fast USB 2.0 computer connection via the supplied cable. Or you could copy from the Everio's analog video outputs to a dedicated DVD recorder, but at the sacrifice of some picture quality.

It's better to go direct to computer. With this in mind, the Everio is bundled with CyberLink's DVD Solution, a group of Windows-based programs for importing video, editing, and creating a DVD. Using the PowerProducer 2 Gold program, you can simply transfer the video from the camera and record a DVD. For more tweaking, I loaded PowerDirector NE Express to import scenes, reorder them, trim some, add a title menu (for Pool Boy I used video from the bubbly pool as background), and burn a DVD. I could also have inserted transitions, a voiceover, and music. My 39 minutes of video took 23 minutes to render and burn to DVD. The CyberLink programs are reasonably easy to use, and their capabilities are amply serviceable for typical home production needs. Mac users, unfortunately, are provided with a less capable program called Capty MPEG Edit EX.

BOTTOM LINE Now that JVC's Everio line has achieved hard-drive capacity equal to or greater than a stack of MiniDVs, tapes are history. At $900, the GZ-MG30 is more expensive than most MiniDV camcorders. But think of the money you'll save on tape and the value of owning a high-quality, instant-replay video camera so small and lightweight that you'd no sooner leave home without it than you would your cellphone.