The DZ-GX5060SW is a squat camcorder with a relatively long body, although that's a design necessity for a DVD camcorder; you've got to include space for the drive bay somewhere. It measures in at 63 x 91 x 132mm with a carrying weight of 420g -- and that's sans battery. External controls are relatively minimalistic, with a simple selection wheel for choosing video, photo or card modes surrounding the primary capture button. Side controls cover basic menu navigation, and once the 2.7" widescreen LCD is flipped out, a further set of selection buttons on the main camera body are revealed, along with the access port for slotting in an SD/MMC memory card.
The DZ-GX5060SW supports all the currently available 8cm recordable DVD formats -- DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R and DVD+RW, which removes the issue of picking up the wrong discs when on holiday, because there simply aren't any wrong discs to worry about. The zoom on the DZ-GX5060SW offers 30x optical magnification along with a 1500x digital zoom feature. The internal CCD on the DZ-GX5060SW is an 0.8 megapixel model with an effective 410K pixel count for both still and movie shooting.
The DZ-GX5060SW offers simple in-camera editing, as well as a CD with PC and Mac versions of Pixela's ImageMixer 3, a simple video editing and DVD authoring application. Connectivity is via USB 2.0 only, with no Firewire option.
Battery life on the DZ-GX5060SW wasn't exactly what we could call stunning, with a claimed 85 minute battery life if you're not using the LCD display. It's in line with the pricing of the camera, but still something to bear in mind if you're not up for carrying around a few spare batteries or a charger.
With any camcorder, there's always a tradeoff between price and performance. Leaving aside the obvious observation that the DZ-GX5060SW is only a standard definition camera -- because we doubt that those in the market for a AU$609 camcorder are particularly looking to HD as yet -- the real catch with the DZ-GX5060SW is the same one we had with the Canon DC220 -- it's running on a sub-1 megapixel CCD, and the results show when you actually shoot any video material, especially given the drop in effective pixels in movie mode. For what it's worth, the next model up in the range, the AU$824 DZ-GX5100SW, offers a 1.3 megapixel CCD, although it strangely drops the optical zoom to 15x.
It's not uncommon for cheaper camcorders to have issues with zooming and autofocus, but many entry-level consumers rely on automatic functions like these. The DZ-GX5060SW acquitted itself well however, with smooth and consistent zoom and a decent autofocus that quickly adjusted to scene changes, even when using its 1-second quick startup capability.
One of the neat tricks that the DZ-GX5060SW supports is the ability to instantly capture a JPG image direct from video straight to an SD card. Given the storage capacity of DVD -- and the fact that most discs are likely to be finalised and properly edited on a computer anyway -- it's a bit of pity that it can't do the same thing straight to DVD, but it's still a simple in-camera function that works quite well.
It's definitely a sign of the times that a DVD camcorder can be had at this kind of price point; while AU$609 isn't an arbitrary purchase for most of us, it's a highly competitive price point against standard DV or HDD camcorders. The DZ-GX5060SW isn't the flashiest DVD camcorder we've ever tested, but it's priced appropriately and comes recommended for those who just want video, like the relative convenience of DVD recording, but critically don't want or need higher quality.