Everio GZ series (flash) review:

Everio GZ series (flash)

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.

The camcorder records MPEG-2 video to SD/SDHC cards. The Ultra Fine setting comes in at 8.5Mbps, giving you a little less than 15 minutes for every 1GB of storage. Honestly, it's the only setting you'd want to record at with the MS100, but there are three more options going down to Eco at 1.5Mbps for up to nearly 20 hours of recording time on a 16GB SDHC card.

If you stick to the intended use of sharing video on the Web and you primarily plan to shoot outdoors during daylight, the MS100 will produce satisfying results. Viewed full screen on a computer monitor shows the abundant blocky artifacts and noise, but taken down to YouTube proportions the results are considerably better, save for some high-contrast fringing. Colors were pleasing with acceptable white balance in natural light. Indoors is another story, as the overall results are not all that enjoyable and there is no option to change to incandescent or fluorescent presets. There is a manual white balance you can tweak for better results and a halogen setting, likely for correcting the light from the weak built-in LED at the front of the camcorder.

A couple other things are worth mentioning. There is no optical image stabilization, just digital, so extending out to 10x, let alone 35x, results in a shaky mess without a tripod. The zoom rocker itself tends toward touchy, but with some practice can be steadily controlled. Also, there's a wind-cut filter you can turn on for the stereo mic under the lens, but it proved just about useless.

The JVC Everio GZ-MS100 should satisfy a majority of budget-conscious users who want a simple and small flash memory-card-based camcorder in a traditional horizontal chassis for getting videos up on the Web. Those who intend to view video on a TV or even full screen on a computer monitor will not be happy with this model.

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