JVC Everio GZ-HM300 review:

JVC Everio GZ-HM300

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MSRP: $449.95

JVC Everio GZ-HM300 (Black)

(Part #: GZ-HM300US) Released: 22 Feb 2010
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The Good Relatively intelligent autofocus system; compact.

The Bad Poor video quality; no optical image stabilization.

The Bottom Line The four sibling models--the JVC Everio GZ-HM300, HM320, HM340, and HD500--deliver subpar video for even their dirt-cheap prices.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.2 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Image quality 5.0

With some of the worst video quality I've seen in an HD camcorder of late, the best I can say about JVC's entry-level HD Everio camcorder models is that they're small and cheap. Though they're $60 to $100 less than HD competitors, they're defined by a tiny, insufficient-resolution-for-HD sensor, a 20x zoom lens with no optical image stabilization (only electronic), and the lowest-resolution LCD display in their class.

Perhaps JVC's goal is to upsell customers: the company offers 10 HD models for less than $800, with these four nearly identical versions that list between $400 and $550 alone. Three are flash models that differ only by built-in memory, and the fourth is an 80GB hard-disk-based model, which takes microSD cards instead of regular SDHC/SDXC cards. It bears pointing out that in JVC's confusing lineup and unlike every other manufacturer out there, the similarly named HD300 and HD320 are not sibling products to the HM300 and HM320; they have bigger, higher-resolution sensors and their flash-based sibling is the HM200.

  JVC Everio GZ-HM300/HM320/HM340 JVC Everio GZ-HD500 JVC Everio GZ-HM200 JVC Everio GZ-HD300/HD320 JVC Everio GZ-HD620
Sensor 1.37-megapixel CMOS 1.37-megapixel CMOS 3.1-megapixel CMOS 3.1-megapixel CMOS 3.3-megapixel BIS CMOS
1/5.8 inch 1/5.8 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/4 inch
46.4 to 928mm
46.4 to 928mm
41.4 - 828mm
41.4 - 828mm
43.7 - 1411mm

Optical image stabilization

No No Yes Yes Yes
Min illumination (lux) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a


No No No No No
LCD 2.7-inch 123,000-dot 2.7-inch 123,000-dot 2.7-inch 123,000-dot 2.7-inch 123,000-dot 2.7-inch 123,000-dot
Primary media 0GB/8GB/16GB flash; SDHC 80GB hard disk; microSD 0GB flash; SDHC 60GB/120GB hard disk; microSD 120GB hard disk; microSD
HD recording AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps

(all video interpolated up from less than 1,440x1,080 pixels; actual dimensions n/a)
1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps
(all video interpolated up from less than 1,440x1,080 pixels; actual dimensions n/a)
1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps
1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps
1080/60i @ 24, 17, 12, 5 Mbps
Manual shutter speed and iris No No No No Yes
Accessory shoe No No No No No
Audio 2 channels 2 channels 2 channels 2 channels, headphone 2 channels
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.1 x 2.4 x 4.4 2.1 x 2.5 x 4.6 2.2 x 2.6 x 4.4 2.1 x 2.7 x 4.5 2.1 x 2.5 x 4.6
Operating weight (ounces) 8.5 10.7 (est) 11 (est) 12.8 (est) 11 (est)
Mfr. Price $399.95/$449.95/$499.95 $549.95 $579.95 $699.95/$799.95 $649.95
Ship date February 2010 March 2010 March 2010 March 2010 April 2010

One thing the entry-level JVC models do have going for them is size: they're the lightest and smallest models in their class. The length of the body of the flash models is about the width of a large man's palm; the hard-drive version is slightly longer and wider, which might make for more comfortable shooting for large-handed people. Though made of shiny plastic, the camcorder feels reasonably well constructed.

Beneath a door on the bottom right sits a pair of SDHC card slots; the models with built-in memory only have a single slot. I like this card location better than in most of the other designs I've seen; it's out of the way and the thin grip strap doesn't block it. I also like the location of the USB connector, which shares a spot above the battery with the DC input. Toward the front of the camcorder is the grip strap release lever, which turns it into a wrist strap. The top controls consist of the zoom switch and photo shutter button.

The LCD recess houses the playback and recording controls, Upload (to YouTube, via computer), and a power button that also cycles through three different information screens. I'm not a big fan of the multiple-duty power button; to me, it's a surefire way to end up turning off the camcorder accidentally. The component, AV, and Mini-HDMI out connectors also occupy the recess.

Of the touch-sensitive buttons on the LCD bezel, only OK and Menu are fixed; the other three are context sensitive. You navigate the menus via a slider strip on the left side, which lights up as you use it. It probably demos well in retail and gives you something pretty to look at while the camcorder boots, but it's only modestly effective as a navigation technique--it's too imprecise for that or for manual focus, leading to accidental slide-bys past your desired options.

  Canon HF R100/ 10 / 11 JVC Everio GZ-HM300/HM320/HM340 Panasonic HDC-SD60/ TM55 / TM60 Sony Handycam HDR-CX110/CX150
Sensor 2.4-megapixel CMOS 1.37-megapixel CMOS 3-megapixel CMOS 3-megapixel Exmor R CMOS
1/5.5 inch 1/5.8 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/4 inch
Lens 20x
40 - 800mm (16:9)
46.4 to 928mm (n/a)
35.7-893mm (16:9)
37 - 1075mm (16:9)
Optical image stabilization Yes No Yes Yes
Min illumination (lux) standard: 5.5
low light: 0.4
n/a recommended:1400
low light: 4
night: 1
standard: 11
low light: 3


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