X

Everio GZ series (flash) review: Everio GZ series (flash)

Everio GZ series (flash)

Joshua_Goldman.jpg
Joshua Goldman
Joshua_Goldman.jpg

Joshua Goldman

Managing Editor / Advice

Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

See full bio
4 min read

JVC's Everio GZ-MS100 is a compact, budget SD-card-based camcorder capitalizing on the trend of one-touch upload of video to the Internet; the big YouTube sticker on back of the camcorder's LCD and the YouTube branding on the box are kind of a giveaway. Its other main selling point is the Laser Touch interface, which attempts to inject some gee-whiz factor into an otherwise staid operation, namely navigating the setting menus. However, neither of these is so great to make the MS100 worth considering, especially since it's twice the price of other camcorders designed for straight-to-Web clips.

6.4

Everio GZ series (flash)

The Good

Average standard-definition video quality for its class; manual controls; small, comfortable design.

The Bad

Tricky menu navigation; polarizing interface; meager user guide; and questionable YouTube-friendliness.

The Bottom Line

The JVC Everio GZ-MS100 is an average budget SD-card-based camcorder that's more attractive for its small design and relatively average video quality than its unique interface and one-touch uploads to YouTube.

Taking its design cues from the Everio G series hybrid camcorders, the MS100 (part of the Everio S series) is smaller at 2.2 inches wide by 2.7 inches high by 4.4 inches deep. Its traditional horizontal body design is atypical of the fashionable YouTube camcorders, which tend toward the shape and size of a deck of cards. This does mean the MS100 is bigger and heavier (though it weighs only 9.6 ounces), but it allows for a debatably useful 35x zoom lens and a higher-resolution 680,000-pixel CMOS sensor (340,000 effective) compared with VGA-resolution (307,200 pixels) on most of those models. The MS100 is also around twice the price. For these reasons--size, chassis, components, and price--the MS100 shouldn't be judged against the VGA camcorders, but against models like the Canon FS100. By that those standards, the JVC looks considerably less impressive.

Even as small as the MS100 is, it's very comfortable to use and does look and feel nice, despite being 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 cannot take stills while shooting video, but instead need to flip a tiny switch on the left side of the body. (Photos are 640x480 and are typical quality for SD camcorders--good enough for the Web at small sizes, barely.)

Above that switch sits a button to flip between play and record, and below it is one for changing out of Auto mode to Manual. Then there is the ballyhooed one-touch Upload button and its partner Direct DVD button. This one-button YouTube upload, though, really just connects, transcodes, and uploads via the bundled Cyberlink software (Windows only). It certainly doesn't relieve you of having to be in front of your computer to keep the process moving start to finish. This is not really any different than the MS100's competitors, except in that some of them have the software built into the camcorder so you don't have to worry about where the software's installed.

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.

6.4

Everio GZ series (flash)

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Image quality 6
laptop
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping