JVC Everio GZ-MG145
- 40GB hard drive, user-friendly interface, SD/SDHC video recording
- Picture quality could be better, lacks buying incentive over other Everio models
Being almost identical to the cheaper GZ-MG135, this is a fairly pointless addition to the Everio family. When judged on its own merits however, it is a fairly solid introduction to HDD video, offering a slightly above average performance across the board.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
Hard disk-based camcorders are swiftly overtaking MiniDV and DVD as the consumer's format of choice. Their convenience and ease-of-use has seen everyone from mums and dads to budding professionals jumping on the HDD bandwagon with nary a look back. Buoyed by this healthy adoption rate, most manufacturers now offer a huge range of hard disk-based cameras in an attempt to cater for every taste and wallet size. Unfortunately, the difference between co-existing models is often so small as to be nearly inconsequential. Welcome to the wonderful world of market saturation.
With a total of eight HDD cameras spread across its Everio range, JVC is definitely guilty of this practice -- and the GZ-MG145 is a prime example. For a premium of $100, it offers an additional 10GB of hard disk space over the 30GB Everio GZ-MG135, but otherwise, both models are completely indistinguishable from one another. From the 34x optical zoom to the SDHC/SD memory card slot, they are identical products in every way. Equating to just two hours of extra recording time, it is debatable whether this upgrade is worth shelling out the extra cash for. On the other hand, if you're the type of person who likes to shoot everything that crosses your path, the memory boost might come in handy. In any event, there seems to be little justification for the existence of both these cameras.
Naturally, because the GZ-MG145 shares an identical feature set with its cheaper sibling, it also comes burdened with all of the same faults. Chief amongst these is its 0.8-megapixel CCD sensor which captures video at a measly resolution of 400,000 pixels. During our testing, colours lacked vibrancy and at times appeared poorly rendered; especially when shooting in shadowy environments. All up, its output should prove satisfactory for entry-level users, but serious videographers are unlikely to be impressed. While we were willing to forgive this on the cheaper GZ-MG135 model, $1000 is getting perilously close to the price of superior 3CCD models. (It's funny how a mere $100 can make all the difference, but there you go.)
Falling in line with the rest of the Everio range, the GZ-MG145 sports a classical camcorder design complimented by a black-and-silver finish. It might be a bit simple for some tastes, but it remains attractive nonetheless. With its miniature dimensions (66x71x110mm) and lightweight design, the unit can be easily carried in your jacket pocket or thrown into a bag and forgotten about, making it ideal for frequent shooting.
Menu navigation is handled via a small directional stick next to the LCD screen. While it remained perfectly functional, some may be slightly thrown off by its unusual location (most models place their directional sticks on the back of the camera where it can be easily accessed by the thumb). Thankfully, the menu layout is pleasantly intuitive and easy to use, with everything laid out where it should be. This is definitely one user-friendly camera that even self-professed Luddites will be able to get to grips with. (For example, AE modes can be instantly accessed via an animated wheel, instead of a fiddly scroll-down menu, ensuring they might actually get used for a change.)
When recording at its highest quality, the GZ-MG145 can store approximately nine hours and 40 minutes of video to its hard drive. Naturally, once your disk space has filled up, it's just a simple matter of transferring your data to a PC or burning it to DVD. This is made easy thanks to the handy Direct DVD and Direct Backup buttons located on the camera. (While the ports on the camera are somewhat fiddly, a docking station has also been included.)
Being a hybrid device, the GZ-MG145 is also capable of recording to SD/SDHC memory cards, which brings up an interesting point -- if you happen to already own a bunch of SD cards, there is very little reason to buy this camera over the cheaper 30GB version. Considering that SD media has a capacity that will soon top 32GB, how much more memory do you really need? It is for this reason we feel compelled to recommend the GZ-MG145 over this otherwise identical unit. Those with a bit more money on their hands would be better off going for the superior Everio GZ-MG275.
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