Budget camcorders might not seem flashy, but they play an important part in every camcorder line. They're designed to be an affordable, no-frills product that anyone can pick up for just a few hundred dollars. Since price is their main selling point, however, they tend to lack features that are standard on higher-end models. Among Panasonic camcorders, for example, the PV-GS85 sits as one of the runts of the litter. Still, its 32X optical zoom lens and optical image stabilization make it an interesting runt.
Chunky and simple, the PV-GS85 is almost indistinguishable in design from the crowd of budget MiniDV camcorders. Thanks to the camcorder's incredibly simple control scheme, you can easily record and play videos without ever touching its menu system. All you have to do is set the PV-GS85 in auto mode, and you're off and running. If you really want to fiddle with the menus, you can navigate the PV-GS85's settings with a small joystick that is set into the mode dial. The "advanced" menu holds very little in the way of video settings, however, and it's unlikely anyone would need to delve into the menus often.