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325 of 339 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2008
Color Name: BlueVerified Purchase
3/15/08 UPDATE (read initial review below) - I have now bought 3 different JVCs - the initial GZMG330 (rated below), the upgraded GZMG730, and last year's GZMG255. I bought the latter two after I was not 100% satisfied with the 330's video.

After buying all three from Amazon and testing side-by-side/same video events, there is a CLEAR hands-down winner of these 3. The 330 (about $450) is the bottom end of JVCs new lineup, but only has a 680k pixel CCD (effective is actually 340k, and it shows), and a f1.8 lens. The 730 (about $730) is the top of the new JVC line, with a 7+ MP CCD, BUT a very small f3.5 lens (no idea why). The smaller the f-stop, the less light will be available for filming. Between these 2, the 730 definitely took overall better video, but the 7+ MP CCD really does not improve it that much. Plus the smaller f3.5 lens on the 730 makes it near impossible to film in very low light conditions. JVC would have hit a home run if they simply would have used the f1.2 lenses on the new lineup, no idea why they failed to do this.

Then I did more research and read about the JVC GZMG255, last year's jewel. It essentially has ALL the same functionality of the new 330/730 line, except a toggle button on the side of the screen vs. the cool laser-touch menu system on the 330/730. HOWEVER, the 255 has a HUGE f1.2 lens, which officially lets in 2x the light of a f1.8 lens (330 has that), and 4x more than a f3.5 lens (730 has that, still don't know why). The end result is a FAR SUPERIOR low-light brilliance on the video, and resolution on the 255 is as good as or better than the top of the line 730, and DEFINITELY better than the new 330. The 255 can be had for about the same price as the new 330. So trade in the cool laser touch screen for the nearly-as-cool toggle button menu system, and get 2x better video. SERIOUSLY!! Plus it can do everything the new ones can, including the 1-button DVD burning feature, whcih works beautifully and simply. I still give the 330 a 5-star rating for the price, but for the same price, GET THE GZMG255 and you will thank me all the way to the TV screen when you view your video.

ORIGINAL REVIEW FOLLOWS BELOW --
-------------------------
I did 2+ months of research before finally buying a hard-drive camcorder, and I was dismayed by many of the reviews -some perfect scores, some zero's, on the same camcorder. Quickly figured out the professional-level and amateur are both reviewing these things, with very differnt viewpoints and needs. Hopefully this review will help all of you!

I have owned 4 higher-end camcorders for the past 10 years - those that the "normal" consumer (family) would buy for use, without having to pay $1000 or more (all of mine were $600 or less). I am NOT a professional photographer, but rather a very avid/busy photographer interested in capturing family experiences - concerts, sporting events, graduations, vacations, pets, grandparents, family times, etc - what 95% of us use camcorders for. All the previous camcorders I have owned have been 1MP or better CCDs to provide the best video possible for the "normal" user, without paying more than $600 for any one of them. I have historically only owned Canon and JVC camcorders, and recommend both lines.

All previous camcorders were mini-DV tape format - I just recently had 100+ tapes converted to all DVDs - very nice if you have not done so yet. It will cost you about $11-13 per DVD (2 hours of video) to get yours professionally transferred, with menus, etc. Well worth the $$. I just resold my previous Canon Elura70 1.3MP camcorder, which served me well for 3+ years. I wanted to move to the "future" and go with either a DVD, HD, or flash-drive, or combo. Something that would allow me to better archive and copy my footage myself (DVDs, etc).

After 2+ months of reviewing, I was all but sold on the Canon HG-10 - high-def, multi-MP camcorder, with a hard drive. Reviews were very strong. But I liked the size/features of the JVC. The HG-10 looked unbeatable. Then I went to a store and compared them side-by-side, and was pleasantly surprised by the JVC performance and feel (in the store) and by the notable size difference (HG-10 about twice the size). I decided to take a chance on the JVC, even though it was not high-def, 1+MP CCD resolution, etc.

For the above explained purposes, this camcorder is, hands down, THE BEST VALUE and size and features and results that the "normal" user can ask for, at this price. The size is phenominally small, the features, ergonomics, and usage are near perfect, and the video quality is excellent to very good under most instances. I have now used this to film outdoors, indoors, and what I consider a VERY difficult scenario - a high school concert, dimly lit in a big auditoruim, with bright backlighting behind the performers, and from a distance of several hundred feet, zooming in 20x or more to see a full face image (my 16-year old) in the screen. Under this very difficult scenario, and viewing the video on my 52-inch 1080P Samsung (a VERY unforgiving LCD TV for less-than high-def images - remember the larger the playback monitor, the harder it is on video as it will show every imperfection in the signal/images), the video was EXCELLENT up to a zoom length of about 22x. After 22x zoom (which is pretty darn far), the image got somewhat grainy on the 52" TV. Images at less than 22x zoomed, on my huge TV, looked phenominal under these poor image filming conditions. This is impressive, if you consider the zoom ratio (and hand-held!), and then played back on a hi-res 52" monitor!!! When viewed on a smaller 20" TV or my 17" computer monitor, the zoomed video looked flawless in these dim conditions up to the full 35x optical zoom - I was impressed, and sold on keeping the camcorder. The digital image stabilizer works well once zoomed to where you are going, but a bit jittery while zooming - I did the above hand-held resting my elbow on the seat armrest only, and had NO jitters in the image once zoomed in or out. I was blown away by the quality of this less-than 1MP, less-than-Hi-def CCD sensor even given the tough situation/playback described above - BUY THIS CAMCORDER!!!!
All other videos I took under normal lighting - in the house during the day, outside, etc. were flawless when viewed on my 52" TV.

There is an Auto mode (everything done for you), and a Manual mode, where you can adjust the most common settings (white balance, shutter speed, "scenes" or enhancements to the video, etc.) I tried both, and for most of what I will ever do (and have done for 12+ years), Auto is all you need.

The laser-touch slide bar for menu access is intuitively genious, and easy to use. Menu's are simple and understandable, the users guide is brief and informative, and within 15 minutes, I understood every feature of this machine. Battery usage has been reported less than great, but I get a full 90-100 minutes from the standard battery - just buy another one for a spare. And the on-screen battery life sensor (minutes remaining) is way cool with JVC batteries.

Burning DVD is SIMPLE, and connectivity is SIMPLE on this camcorder. I was able to burn and copy a DVD with the push of 1 button when connected to my desktop that has a DVD burner. Very simple to use. I am 100% sold on this camcorder for what I (and most people) will ever use it for.

I cannot underscore the simplicity of usage. That, on top of the image quality, sold me.

For stills, don't even bother using this - I did not even try (seriously), and never will. If you are a true photographer, even amateur, spend $150 and get a 6+MP digital Canon camera or similar, fits in your shirt pocket, and KEEP STILLS SEPARATE FROM VIDEOS!! I have had 2MP CCD video camcorders in the past that took terrible stills, so why bother???? THIS IS A VIDEO CAMERA!! I would love to see manfacturers stop trying to combine both into 1 package.

If you are a high-end videographer, you need to skip this (why are you even considering a camcorder for under $500????), buy at least the Canon HG-10 (which is wonderful except a clunk in size compared to the JVC), or go for an even better camcorder and spend an extra $500 doing so. For the price, this is more than 99% of what the normal users will ever need and expect for under $600. Period.

My only reccomendation to JVC - consider upgrading the CCD to a true 1MP or better, for enhanced low-light video imagery. This is a wish list only item, as the images are pretty darn good as-is, and the larger f1.2 lens and 1+MP CCD that would be required for that will defeat the size/form factor that you get with the 330.

Bottom line - best darn harddrive based mini-camcorder out there at close to this price - BUY IT!! (and you can choose any of the cool colors - a WOW factor to say the least). And, if you buy from a reuptable dealer, you'll have 15-30 days to test it like I did, and not worry about having to return it. If that happens, nothing lost, just get the HG-10 or better!!
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100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2008
Color Name: Blue
Pros:

* Convenient small size.

* Lens cover button helps protect lens from debris and scratches.

* Easy navigational controls.

* Direct record to 30GB hard-disk-drive save is pretty awesome- no worrying about tapes!

* Easy navigation to review everything that has been shot on camera.

* USB connection to computer makes super-fast transfer.

* Bundled software allows you to create DVDs very quickly.

* Video recorded saves into a .MOD file that plays in any Windows Media Player.

* Can play over 7 hours of "high quality" video and 37 hours in lowest quality setting.

* Displays battery life in special menu feature as well as how much space is on your hard disk.

* Can zoom up to 30X and still be very detailed.

* Snapshot capability (low resolution) for quick image stills of video.

* Micro-card slot in the bottom will allow even more recording. In Best Buy, a 4GB micro-card will run you about $60, probably less on Amazon, haven't checked.

* LCD screen is very sharp and works well in daylight unlike older camcorders which washed out the video during the day, forcing you to use the eyepiece (please note this camera does not have a viewfinder/eyepiece).

* The price.

Cons:

* Video quality is pretty poor, they could have done a lot better.

* Small size makes it hard to keep camera from shaking when you are zoomed out past 10x.

* Battery it comes with only lasts a maximum of 110 minutes.

* Snapshots are very low resolution, but ideal for small presentations or emails.

* Look closely at the photos, there is no viewfinder (eyepiece) for you to look through if you prefer that method... however the LCD works well in daylight (unlike older camcorder LCDs where you can barely see the picture).

* Bundled editing software is a little difficult when trying to edit on the timeline... the split clip function is a pain and you have to click on the timeline at least 3 times to get it where you want it. No menu shortcuts either, you have to go through all the menu items.

* On a very bright sunshine day if your subject has a white shirt it will create a purple rim around it. This happens on still cameras as well, but still it's pretty annoying when you have a purple halo around someone wearing a white shirt.

* If you want to edit your video in another software, you may run into some problems. I wanted to use Windows Movie Maker because I find it easier than the included software. Well, it turned my video upside down and each clip I had to rotate 180* to get it right side up. Also, it hangs up when you are attempting to edit and view the video in the source window. Not to mention before you bring it into Windows Movie Maker or any other program you will have to use the included software to convert the .MOD file to .AVI or .MPEG. Yeah, that kind of sucks.

* Difficult to go back through your footage to find a certain thing when you have transferred it to your computer. File names are generic and Windows does not create a handy little thumbnail of what you have shot, just a Windows Media Player icon. If you want to be organized you'll have to spend the extra time in going through each clip (which is created every time you record a small segment) and rename them so you'll know what you're looking for... I guess this is the only slight disadvantage when using a hard disk camcorder.

In Conclusion:

This is a pretty decent little camera though I expected a little more with the video quality. I think that's the only drawback that I have about it. These days we are so used to watching crystal clear images on our televisions and DVD players that when we view the video from these little camcorders it's a bit disappointing. However, all-in-all this is a good value for the home/personal consumer, but professionally and for the video enthusiast, pay a little extra money and go with a 3CCD. Find a hard-disk-drive camcorder as well... you can't beat not having to pay and keep up with a bunch of MiniDV tapes.

(I will keep updating this review the more I use the camcorder and the software.)

4/21/08 - If you are curious to see videos this camera produces, more importantly the video quality of this camcorder, go to youtube and enter the name of it into the search bar.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2008
Color Name: Silver
Our previous camcorder died about a year ago, and I finally was able to start looking into purchasing a new one recently. I dove right into researching and comparing the options out there for a decent-but-cheap camcorder. I wanted something with a good zoom level, a large LCD screen, and was hoping to find something digital (either DVD or hard drive) so we wouldn't have to hassle with tapes anymore and could copy video directly to our computer.

I started off by looking at the Sony camcorders since that's what our previous one was and I do trust the brand in general. But I was quickly swayed toward the JVC camcorders when I read the reviews for both brands on Amazon and on [...]. I ended up deciding on the JVC Everio GZ-MG330 camcorder with a 30GB hard drive and 35x optical zoom. And I'll tell you exactly why this camcorder works for us.

* First of all - it's tiny! I couldn't believe when I received it and opened the box. It's honestly not that much larger than our point-and-shoot digital camera and it weighs about the same as well. Which is incredibly convenient when you're trying to hold a camcorder up with one hand (usually with a 2-year-old in the other arm) for extended periods of time. The 'official' size is listed as 5 x 3 x 4.4 inches and a total of 2 pounds.
* The quality of the video and audio is excellent. Even when new, our old camcorder never recorded nearly this clearly, especially in low light. See below for a couple of samples of video that I've recorded with this camcorder.
* The zoom quality is amazing. The lens is a Konica Minolta with a maximum aperture range of F/1.8-4 (which may mean something to you photography buffs out there - it doesn't really to me). But all I know is that I can stand on the play structure at our oldest daughter's soccer field and clearly see and film what's happening in her practice or game. And since I spend most of said practices and games over on the playground with our 2-year-old, this has allowed me to actually see what's going on over at the field.
* I thought it would be strange to not have a viewfinder to look through, but the 2.7-inch display screen is plenty big enough. And I haven't noticed any problems with being able to clearly see it, even in bright sunlight (another issue we had with our previous camcorder).
* The 30GB hard drive holds up to 37.5 hours of video. No more shuffling tapes on Christmas morning or at birthday parties that go for more than 60 minutes at a time. Or realizing that you're about out of tape 5 minutes before the performance starts.
* Even when zoomed in close on something like my daughter's soccer game, there is a minimal amount of shaking in the picture. The worst problem that I've had is from standing on the play structure and having kids run by, shaking the entire structure. There's not much anyone can do to solve that. :)
* It is possible to take still photos with the camcorder - at a 2 megapixel resolution. Which, although not nearly as good as our regular digital camera, certainly is nothing to sneeze at and is a good backup in case we forget our digital camera or the batteries go dead in it. I didn't buy the camcorder to take still shots with after all - but having the option to is something I do like.
* The cost was very reasonable.
* Downloading video to the computer is very easy and the software that comes bundled with the camcorder allows for some pretty basic video editing.

The bottom line for me is that so far I'm loving this camcorder and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a new one.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2008
Color Name: Blue
If you are looking for a camcorder for an easy home video recording. This review might be helpful to you.

I purchased JVC Everio GZMG330 one week ago. I thought about buying a SONY DCR SR42 at first, but the model is discontinued. I thought SONY SR42 was the smallest among the HDD camcorder, but this is even smaller than SONY SR42. This is much slimmer than SR42. This is really small to fit in my small hand very well. I got a sapphire blue one. It's really cool. I wonder why most camcorders are in the silver color only. It looks really pretty in the bright sunlight outdoors.

The HDD camcorder is the right decision I made. I used to have dozens of tapes for the old SONY camcorder (well organized though). After I used this for couple of days, I realized that HDD is the perfect solution for camcorders. You can record video all day long without worrying about the tape recording time. In fact, battery life is your only limit for recording. ^^ I recorded my son's soccer game for about an hour. It spent about 3 GB of the storage. Not bad.

35x zoom is great. I didn't pay too much attention to the optical zoom, but it turned out to be very important for various shootings. You can zoom in and see objects which you cannot distinguish well with your bare eyes. It's a good idea to use a tripod if you spend much time in the zoom recording.

The connection to the computer is easy and intuitive. However, the bundled software to organize the video files runs very slowly and its GUI looks pretty simple and ugly. The video editing S/W has better GUI though.

The image quality is okay. I didn't have a chance to compare the image quality of all the camcorders. It looks better than the old tape camcorder or VHS tape recorded video on TV. It's not as good as the DVD titles. It could be nice if the camcorder had an s-video output. On computer, the image looks much better. Especially after you finish the video rendering into DVD HQ format with the bundled software, you'll find out that the video shows smoother motion than the original 'MOD' one. You cannot play the MOD video from the media player directly. You need to convert it to MPEG2 format using the bundled software. The max video resolution is SD 720x480. Anyway, I didn't expect the highest quality video at this low budget camcorder. For a casual home video recording, the quality looks fine with me. However, I'm curious how good the video quality of this camcorder is compared with others though.

However, you should handle the LCD panel carefully. It looks weaker than other camcorders. The average image and fragile LCD is why I give 4 instead of 5 stars.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2008
Color Name: Blue
I bought the JVC Everio 330 prior to this, but was interested in the Canon because it had a mic input. I bought the Canon FS100 at Walmart and of course started filming right there in the parking lot. On a sunny day, the camera struggled to get good focus on a zoom in the many many tests that I put it through. At full Optical zoom, it never focused completely. I took it home and put it throught many more tests, indoors and out, same problem. It had poor low light capabilities too, and of course equally bad autofocus indoors. If only they would have used the same Instant Autofocus system and optical image stabilization that they put in the High-Definition Canon HF10, they'd have a great Standard Definition camera here.

Just to let you know, I am a professional filmmaker, and two of my films have made it to television, one on PBS. But I wanted a really simple no frills hard drive camera to record video notes and just for fun.

Now for the JVC Everio 330. After two weeks owning it, I am amazed with it. It records great in low light with Electronic Gain Up, and it focuses SO WELL, that most of the time it appears that there is never anything out of focus. It does it so fast. AND, unlike the Canon FS100, when you take it out of manual settings to auto settings, then back to Manual, it REMEMBERS the last settings. The Canon FS100 clears them.

The only thing I can say good about the Canon is their electronic image stabilization is better than JVCs. But with the focus problem, does it really matter? I love my JVC Everio 330!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2008
Color Name: Blue
I got this item last week in a bundle with the 815 battery and Lowe Pro bag for $500. That breaks down to $435 for the camera itself. It didn't take but a few minutes after opening the box to begin shooting. The first thing I noticed was when shooting video in my kitchen under 7 65W halogen flood lights that there was an orange tint. I remembered reading in another review online that someone else had experienced this but they were able to correct it by putting it in a manual white balance mode. After finally figuring out how to do this (it's not covered in the manual!) the result looked accurate. This is my only gripe about this camera. I took it on a ski trip this past weekend and it worked perfectly both indoors and out. I did not have to use the manual wb anywhere else except inside my own kitchen. When I was unloading the car at a hotel I accidently dropped it and sent it skidding along the bricks in the driveway. I held my breath & turned it on and it still worked. I examined it closely and had a hard time finding any damage to the outside of the camcorder. To my astonishment there was only a small scrape on one of it's edges about an 1/8 of an inch long. I turned out to be surprisingly durable as well. The software is ok but I tried to drag and drop a video onto my pc as described in the quick start instructions but the audio would not play. Using the software it worked fine. I consider it a great investment for the $500 package I purchased.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2008
Color Name: Silver
JVC-GZMG-330 is one of the easiest working camcorders on the market. It's great for all kind of recording. I am able to record my newborn in a matter of second without missing a beat. The best price for quality and features against its competitors.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2008
Color Name: SilverVerified Purchase
I bought this camera to upgrade from an AIPTEK MPVR. I wanted the optical zoom, the ability to record with the camera plugged in. Which the JVC Everio GZ-MG330 Does all those things and the ability to record in low light situations. However, the AIPTEK MPVR creates clearer video. The JVC Everio GZ-MG330 also seems to have a problem filming LEDs plugged into a wall outlet such as Christmas lights. The lights slowly turn on and off in the recording even if what you see is the lights being on constantly.

The JVC Everio GZ-MG330 has a slightly odd interface took me a while to get use to how everything works. Copying files from the hard disk to the microSD card is a bit convoluted but it does do it. Also the USB cable that comes with it is not standard. The 5 pin connector on the camera side has a special configuration and you can't use other 5 pin USB cables with the camera.

The camera works with linux. Ubuntu will auto mount the camera and the videos play correctly.

The battery is the 730mAh battery so 95 minutes is about what you get. The microSD slot takes microSD HC and standard microSD cards. The largest microSD card I tested in the camera was 4GB and the smallest was 1GB both worked perfectly.

Also the camera does not turn off when you close the screen it goes into stand by mode. To fully turn off the camera you have to press the power button then close the screen.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2008
Color Name: Red
I took a big risk and purchased this camera 2 days before leaving on a Disney vacation with my 2 year old.

The risk was well worth it, the camera worked great and was extremely easy to use. Battery life was great and not having to carry blank tapes was a big plus!

I used this to replace my aging JVC Mini DV camera.

The quality of the final product was very close to my DV tapes, it was perfectly fine for home movies.

I was able to seamlessly upload the video when I got home using iMovie on my Mac.

I don't understand the other reviews stating poor picture quality or problems with a Mac. They may not have set the camera for maximum resolution, it's comes set from the factory at medium quality.

No, it's not HD & yes it records in a compressed format, but definitely a great camera for the money! I would buy it again tomorrow.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2008
Color Name: Silver
I bought this about a month ago. I originally was looking at a sony or cannon. Sony is not campatable with my mac computer, and the cannons that I saw were pretty pricey. I think this is a good all around camcorder for the money. I have not had any problems with it and it is pretty easy to use once you get the hang of the menu's and the little contoller on the view panel.

so pros and cons:
pros: reasonably priced, hard drive, small, easy to use and upload to computer, good amount of recording time, good rotating lcd viewer.

cons: indoor video is a little orange, the led light is really not very useful, manual isn't great, no image stabilization(really helpful on the long zoom).

The video quality is definitely not HD but never claims to be. I think this is a good camcorder for recording family events etc and you don't want to pay an arm and a leg.
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