JVC Everio GZ-EX250 review:

JVC Everio GZ-EX250

The biggest issue I have with the video quality is the amount of fringing in high-contrast areas, such as the purple fringe around the statues above (click on the picture to see it larger). You'll see fringing in yellow, cyan, and magenta, too. If you're sensitive to it, you may want to forget about this model.

Design and features
Even though the GZ-EX250 is compact, it's very comfortable to use and looks and feels nice, despite being almost 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 can take stills while shooting video, but there's also a button on the left side of the body under the 3-inch touch screen that gives you access to more snapshot features. (Photos are 2 megapixels and good enough for the Web.) Below that button are four others for activating a silent mode, electronic image stabilization, displaying shooting information, and power. Along with buttons are an AV output, Mini-HDMI port, and Mini-USB port.

The touch screen is used to access settings and menus and it gives you an extra set of controls for zoom and recording. It's adequately sensitive, but you'll want to calibrate it for your touch (there's a menu setting to do this) or use the included stylus.

Key specs JVC Everio GZ-EX250
Price (MSRP) $429.95
Dimensions (HxWxD) 2.1x2.2x4.6 inches
Weight (with battery and media) 8.3 ounces
Storage capacity 16GB internal flash; SDHC/SDXC cards up to 64GB
Resolution, sensor size, type 1.5 megapixels, 1/5.8-inch BSI CMOS
LCD size, resolution 3-inch LCD, 230K-dots touch screen
Lens (zoom, aperture, focal length) 40x, f1.8-6.3, 42-1,680mm (35mm equivalent)
Minimum illumination 3 lux
File format (video, audio) AVCHD (.MTS), Dolby Digital stereo
Resolution (video/photo) 1,920x1,080 pixels (interlaced, 24Mbps), 720x480 pixels (interlaced, 6Mbps)/1,920x1,080
Recording time at highest quality 1 hour 20 minutes (16GB)
Image stabilization type Electronic
Battery type, rated life Lithium ion rechargeable, 65 minutes

Though I expect most people will use this camcorder in its reliable Intelligent Auto mode, there is a Manual mode in which you can adjust brightness, white balance, and focus, and turn on backlight compensation or a tele macro mode for close-up shots. The EX250 can record at a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, but can also record at a standard-def resolution of 720x480. All resolutions are recorded in AVCHD format, however, so you'll need to do some conversion before you upload to sharing sites. Worth noting, too, is that this model can start recording on the internal memory and then seamlessly start recording to an SD card so you don't have to worry about running out of storage in the middle of a recording.

Beyond recording regular videos, you can capture time-lapse movies so you can see how something changes over a period of time, and high-speed video for viewing things in slow motion. There are also options for adding animation effects, such as hearts or flowers, facial "decorations" like glasses or a mustache, stamps, and handwriting. And if you have pets, the camcorder can be set to automatically take a photo of them when they're in the frame.

The Wi-Fi capabilities are, again, a big selling point for this model. And for the most part, everything works, but the features do have limitations. For example, doing outside monitoring via a Web browser requires a Windows 7 computer using Internet Explorer 9 or a later version, and Windows Media Player 12 or later, or you can use transfer videos to your smartphone for uploading, but the camcorder has to first convert it to a 640x360-pixel-resolution MP4 file. This isn't unusual, but it's definitely something to be aware of before you buy.

Setting up all of the features isn't entirely simple either. Getting the Everio Sync smartphone apps up and running was easy enough, but other operations were trickier, especially on the EX250's touch screen. Luckily, you can input some of the settings from a Web browser. Also, streaming to a Web browser requires a reliably fast wireless connection to get both video and audio. I highly recommend downloading and thoroughly reading over the GZ-EX250's operation manual from JVC's site.

The JVC Everio GZ-EX250 is a decent entry-level camcorder for its features, less so for its video quality. If your main goal is to get a small, fully automatic camcorder for preserving memories and getting better results than your smartphone, it's a fine option. The 40x zoom lens and the Wi-Fi do make it more appealing, but the lack of optical image stabilization and the limitations on the wireless functions hurt the package. Still, it can capture things you simply can't with the fixed lens of a smartphone or minicamcorder, and you'll be able to upload on the spot. And frankly, you'll have to spend more money to get better video with the rest of this camcorder's features, so it's really up to your video quality needs versus your feature needs and budget. If you want to shave about $80 to $100 off the price, though, I suggest getting the GZ-EX210 and buying a large SD card; it'll be less expensive in the end.

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