JVC GZ-MG465B

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JVC GZ-MG465B
  • JVC GZ-MG465B
  • JVC GZ-MG465B
  • JVC GZ-MG465B

Pros

  • Highly arresting design, 60GB hard drive, MicroSD slot for additional recording, good video performance

Cons

  • 'Laser touch' operation needs significant refining, auto focus less zippy than we're used to

Bottom Line

If you're on the lookout for a standard definition HDD camcorder, the GZ-MG465B is one of the more interesting options on the market. Provided you can get your head (and finger) around the unusual control interface, it won't disappoint.

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The GZ-MG465B is an upscale standard definition camcorder equipped with a 60GB hard drive (HDD). With its 1.07 megapixel CCD sensor, MicroSD memory card slot and 32x optical zoom, it is sufficiently equipped to satisfy the casual videographer. However, at $999, this model isn't exactly the best buy on the market; especially when we compared it to entry-level, high-def offerings (such as the Samsung VP-HMX10 (XSA))). Furthermore, JVC's new 'laser touch' control scheme is bound to leave many users cold. Nevertheless, it remains a reasonable option for those who aren't ready to make the leap to high-definition.

Like all hard disk-based camcorders, the GZ-MG465B eliminates the hassle and extra cost associated with blank DVDs and tapes. Instead, all footage is stored on the camera's 60GB HDD, which can store a massive 75 hours of video (or 14 and-a-half hours in ultra fine mode). Being a hybrid model, the GZ-MG465B can also record video to MicroSD cards. MicroSD is an offshoot of the SD/SDHC memory card format, with one primary difference — the cards are around a quarter of the size. This is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how easily you lose stuff. Personally, we find their ultra-tiny dimensions to be rather off-putting. In any event, MicroSD cards currently come in a maximum capacity of 16GB, which will boost your available recording time considerably.

When it comes to its consumer-level camcorder range, JVC is considered by many to be a 'second-tier' company. This is perhaps a little unfair, especially when it comes to the build quality of its cameras. Simply put, the GZ-MG465B is one of the sleekest looking standard-def models we've ever looked at. It sports the same ergonomic shape and glossy black finish that most vendors restrict to their high-definition range (by way of example, compare this to the dull design of Sony's DCR-SR85, which actually retails for $150 more). The unit definitely feels like a premium model, with its striking LED logo and silver menu buttons adding to the sense of showmanship. Its compact size will also fit into most jacket pockets, making it an ideal travel companion for habitual shooters.

During testing, we found that the GZ-MG465B stacked up quite well against its competition in the standard-def arena. Its colour reproduction remained reasonably faithful (if a little on the muted side), and most of the images we captured were sharp and well defined. The only exception was fast moving subjects, which occasionally exhibited ghosting or blurring, though this was really only noticeable on a large screen TV. While noise levels were prevalent in dim lighting, it didn't detract hugely from the overall quality of the picture. This was also assisted by the GZ-MG465B's built-in AF light, which does a good job of illuminating nearby subjects. However, the glare it gives off is surprisingly intense, which may bedazzle and annoy your companions.

Meanwhile, we found the auto focus on the GZ-MG465B to be a tad sluggish, with the sensor occasionally taking several seconds to lock onto a subject. This isn't something that will trouble the average user, though budding filmmakers may want to take note; especially in the absence of a manual focus ring.

For its latest generation of camcorders, JVC has updated the control layout with a brand new interface. In place of the trusty directional stick found on previous Everio units, the GZ-MG465B comes equipped with 'laser touch'; a touch-sensitive slider that runs down the side of the LCD display. To navigate the menu, you run your finger across this strip and then hit the 'OK' button to make your selection.

Now, we're all for technological innovation, but to earn our praise it actually has to work. Too often we accidentally overshot the menu we wanted, while on other occasions the slider proved stubborn in responding. We also don't like the fact that you need to select the menu with a separate button; it all feels a bit too fiddly for its own good. On the plus side, the menu itself is intelligently categorised with an intuitive graphical interface. We also liked the explanatory line of text that accompanies each option; something that novice users will be sure to appreciate.

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