The JVC Everio GZ-MS100 camcorder records DVD-quality video to SD and SDHC cards and features direct uploading to YouTube. It’s priced at around $350, which places it in between lower-end hobbyist camcorders and higher-capacity hard drive camcorders.
Features and Specifications
The camera’s relatively small size makes it easy to take just about anywhere. It’s similar in size to cheaper camcorders (such as the DXG-566V, reviewed here) but packs far better features – the 35x optical zoom being the most welcome addition. The left-hand side of the LCD has a cool navigation strip used to jump around the various menus. It’s a nice touch, but don’t buy the camera just for the navigation strip.
Video quality, too, far surpasses that of most other entry-level camcorders. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though, as the Everio costs about $150 to $200 more. Shooting in low-light produced pretty decent footage as well, which is hard to find with less expensive cameras. You can find two recent videos I’ve done here and here.
I’m happy to report that battery life is excellent. I let the camera sit and record for well over two hours before finally noticing that the battery had died. I’m used to about an hour’s worth out of cheaper camcorders or camcorders that record to tape, so the two-plus hours I got out of this little guy was a nice surprise.
Finally, being able to record on SD and SDHC cards made getting the video onto various different computers a snap. No complaints there. What you’re able to actually do with those video files is another story, though.
For some reason, JVC insists on using a proprietary MPEG-2 video format consisting of .MOD files. It apparently has something to do with licensing and supposedly you can simply rename the .MOD files to .MPG and you’ll be able to edit them easily, but this is the third camcorder in the Everio line that I’ve used and they’ve all required me to completely re-encode the files before editing. I use Sony Vegas for video editing and if I rename the files to .MPG, I can open them in Vegas as video files without any sound. To get the whole clip, I have to rename them to .MPG and then re-encode them to the actual MPEG-2 standard (more details in the “Conclusion” section below).
The main selling point of this camera, though, is to be able to easily upload videos directly to YouTube so editing clips isn’t really a big area of focus. As such, there’s a special “Upload Record” setting on the camera that limits recorded clips to ten minutes each in order to keep them inside of YouTube’s maximum clip length.
Unfortunately, the “CyberLink PowerCinema NE for Everio” software is implemented really poorly. People who have been using camcorders for long enough should have grown to accept that the bundled software is gonna stink and make other arrangements, but this camera relies on the software for the direct uploading to YouTube. I was never able to actually get anything successfully uploaded and trying to find the YouTube feature after the camera’s already been connected to your computer is tough because it’s buried somewhere in the “Advanced” menu of the software.
I eventually found my way back to the YouTube feature, but I can’t imagine a novice being able to get anything uploaded correctly on the first try. Also, the whole “One Touch Upload” claim by JVC is way, way off. There are multiple touches. First, you connect the camcorder to the computer, then you choose “Upload” from the camera’s menu, then you click the checkbox next to the video you want to upload, then you select a YouTube category for your video, then you agree to YouTube’s terms and conditions (each time), and finally you click the upload button. That’s one hell of a single click if JVC’s able to pull that off. I gotta see this mouse they’re using.
Okay, here’s the thing. I’m going to give the YouTube upload feature the benefit of the doubt that it works correctly and my “file format is not supported or the file is corrupted” message either has something to do with the 4GB SD card that JVC sent me or that it’s Windows Vista acting like an idiot — each time I put the SD card directly into my card reader, I get a message that the card needs to be scanned and fixed. I can’t scan it when the card’s in use, though, so I’m asked if I want to schedule a scan to run later and OH MY GOD, VISTA LEAVE ME ALONE. This happens with other cards, too, so let’s assume that it’s not a JVC issue.
This camera would be great for…drumroll please…people who are somewhat technically inclined, don’t need to edit their videos, and want to get them uploaded as quickly as possible. My fellow technology bloggers come to mind. I can picture myself using this at an event to record a keynote address and then zipping it up to YouTube immediately so that I can get it up on CrunchGear as in short order.
Unfortunately, the tech blogger sector’s probably not going to be a big enough market for JVC. But the relatively cumbersome YouTube feature will leave neophytes in the dark while the equally cumbersome editing process (you have to re-encode all your files just to get them to work with most video editing software) will leave people who want to edit their videos with their own software wondering why they have to jump through so many hoops when it should be a simple process: take the SD card out of the camera and into the computer, open files in the video editor.
Instead it’s: take the SD card out of the camera and into the computer, rename all the files from .MOD to .MPG, dump all of the renamed video files into SUPER, re-render them all as actual .MPG files, open files in the video editor.
If you’re patient, though, and you want a decent, affordable camera that takes pretty good-looking video, has a much-needed 35x optical zoom, and has great battery life, this camcorder might be a good fit for you.
JVC Everio GZ-MS100 [JVC.com]