Everio GZ series (flash) review: Everio GZ series (flash)

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JVC Everio GZ-MS100 (red)

(Part #: GZMS100RUS) Released: May 19, 2008
See all prices
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Average standard-definition video quality for its class; manual controls; small, comfortable design.

The Bad Tricky menu navigation; polarizing interface; meager user guide; and questionable YouTube-friendliness.

The Bottom Line The JVC Everio GZ-MS100 is an average budget SD-card-based camcorder that's more attractive for its small design and relatively average video quality than its unique interface and one-touch uploads to YouTube.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 6.0

JVC's Everio GZ-MS100 is a compact, budget SD-card-based camcorder capitalizing on the trend of one-touch upload of video to the Internet; the big YouTube sticker on back of the camcorder's LCD and the YouTube branding on the box are kind of a giveaway. Its other main selling point is the Laser Touch interface, which attempts to inject some gee-whiz factor into an otherwise staid operation, namely navigating the setting menus. However, neither of these is so great to make the MS100 worth considering, especially since it's twice the price of other camcorders designed for straight-to-Web clips.

Taking its design cues from the Everio G series hybrid camcorders, the MS100 (part of the Everio S series) is smaller at 2.2 inches wide by 2.7 inches high by 4.4 inches deep. Its traditional horizontal body design is atypical of the fashionable YouTube camcorders, which tend toward the shape and size of a deck of cards. This does mean the MS100 is bigger and heavier (though it weighs only 9.6 ounces), but it allows for a debatably useful 35x zoom lens and a higher-resolution 680,000-pixel CMOS sensor (340,000 effective) compared with VGA-resolution (307,200 pixels) on most of those models. The MS100 is also around twice the price. For these reasons--size, chassis, components, and price--the MS100 shouldn't be judged against the VGA camcorders, but against models like the Canon FS100. By that those standards, the JVC looks considerably less impressive.

Even as small as the MS100 is, it's very comfortable to use and does look and feel nice, despite being entirely plastic. The battery takes up most of the back; there's just enough room for the record start/stop button to the right of it. On top are the zoom rocker and a snapshot button. You cannot take stills while shooting video, but instead need to flip a tiny switch on the left side of the body. (Photos are 640x480 and are typical quality for SD camcorders--good enough for the Web at small sizes, barely.)

Above that switch sits a button to flip between play and record, and below it is one for changing out of Auto mode to Manual. Then there is the ballyhooed one-touch Upload button and its partner Direct DVD button. This one-button YouTube upload, though, really just connects, transcodes, and uploads via the bundled Cyberlink software (Windows only). It certainly doesn't relieve you of having to be in front of your computer to keep the process moving start to finish. This is not really any different than the MS100's competitors, except in that some of them have the software built into the camcorder so you don't have to worry about where the software's installed.

Then there are the Laser Touch controls. Down the left side of the flip-out 2.7-inch LCD is a touch-sensitive strip that sort of takes the place of a joystick or directional pad. However, those generally have five directions used for selecting things. The strip, while responsive and pretty--it lights up a brilliant blue when stroked--only handles scrolling up and down, or for adjusting focus, exposure, and shutter speed in Manual mode.

Below the display are five Laser Touch buttons: OK/display, three that are context-sensitive, and Menu. I'm sure after a couple months of use, you'll have no problem remembering to go from Menu to OK to scrolling to OK to scrolling to OK to scrolling and to OK one last time, but for me it seemed like a lot of jumping around to change the white-balance setting. Aside from all the menu diving, the Manual mode is definitely a plus for the MS100. It's also what you have to be in to access scene programs like Sports, Snow, Spotlight, and Night. By the way, little of this is discussed in the skimpy user guide.

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