The only part of the design that's weak is the strap. It's an interesting design, functioning as both a wrist strap and grip belt, but it's thin and low on the body so you're always fighting to keep the camcorder upright.
Lastly, JVC's Laser Touch controls are not for everyone (including myself). That said, JVC tweaked the system on the MS120 and now it's easier to use, has more features attached to it, and, combined with a slightly reworked menu system, it's actually more pleasurable to use. (I still wish you could tap the strip to select things instead of going over to a separate OK button, but you can't have everything, I guess.) Added features include using the strip to the left of the screen for controlling the zoom and a Record button below the screen. This makes it possible to comfortably control the camcorder while holding it overhand--perfect for shooting subjects like small children and animals.
|Features||JVC Everio GZ-MS120|
|Inputs/Outputs||USB, AV out terminal|
|White balance||Auto, Fine, Cloud, Halogen, Manual|
|Scene modes||Sports, Snow, Spotlight, Twilight, Portrait, Night|
|Focus||Auto, Manual, Tele Macro|
|Color effects||Standard, Black & White, Sepia, Classic Film, Strobe|
|Lens cover (auto or manual)||Auto|
|Accessory shoe||No (built-in LED light)|
Shooting options are actually a bit better than expected for what's essentially an entry-level camcorder. While the MS120 performed well in full Auto mode, at the push of a touch-sensitive button you can switch over to manual control for focus, brightness, shutter speed, and white balance. You also get a few recording effects including Classic Film, which skips frames to give video an old movie look, and Strobe that makes recordings look like a series of consecutive snapshots. Other options include a handful of scene modes and backlight compensation. All in all, it's a nice set of features.
The MS120 records MPEG-2 video (.MOD) of which the Ultra Fine version comes in at 8.5Mbps. That gives 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 MS120, but there are three more options going down to Eco at 1.5Mbps for up to nearly 20 hours of recording time on an 8GB SDHC card.
If you intend to use the camcorder for sharing video on the Web and you primarily plan to shoot outdoors during daylight, the MS120 will produce satisfying results. However, our low-light videos were above average quality, too. Save for some purple fringing that's typical of this class of camcorders, the results are good enough to view on larger TVs; just don't expect high-definition detail and clarity. Colors were pleasing with acceptable white balance in natural light. There are no incandescent or fluorescent presets for white balance, but the manual option is available and there's a halogen setting for use with the built-in LED lamp up front.
Yes, the dual SDHC card slot is a gimmick, but hey, it works and it lets you grow your storage larger than other manufacturers' camcorders. Other than that, the JVC Everio GZ-MS120 is a fairly typical standard-definition minicamcorder.