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JVC Everio GZ-EX250 review: JVC Everio GZ-EX250

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Editors' note: The JVC Everio JVC GZ-EX250 is identical to its linemate the EX210, except for storage: the EX250 has 16GB of internal flash memory and an SD card slot, the EX210 has only an SD card slot. Similarly, the GZ-E200 is nearly the same as the EX250, but has no built-in Wi-Fi or internal storage, only an SD card slot. The E200 also doesn't have Pet Detection, Face Decoration, Stamp, and Hand Writing editing options.

JVC Everio GZ-EX250 - camcorder - flash card
6.8

JVC Everio GZ-EX250

The Good

The <b>JVC Everio GZ-EX250</b> has extensive Wi-Fi capabilities, good automatic shooting, and extras like time-lapse and slow-motion video capture.

The Bad

The GZ-EX250's HD video is merely OK, mostly due to high amounts of fringing; some of the Wi-Fi features can be tricky to set up and use; and it uses electronic image stabilization only for its 40x zoom.

The Bottom Line

As entry-level camcorders go, JVC's Everio GZ-EX250 is an OK option, especially if Wi-Fi functionality and a 40x zoom lens are at the top of your want list.

As with most entry-level camcorders, the JVC Everio GZ-EX250 and its two linemates, the EX210 and E200, are more about features than video quality.

For the EX250, the big features are a 40x optical zoom, 16GB of internal storage and an SD card slot for up to 64GB more, and built-in Wi-Fi. Most potential buyers understand why they want the first two. The last one, though, is harder for some to grasp.

To JVC's credit, the EX250 can do a lot with its wireless. It can allow you to use the camcorder for live monitoring -- either directly on an iOS or Android device or over the Web with a Windows 7 computer; it can act as a motion detector, automatically taking a photo when it picks up movement and sending it by e-mail; a Video Email mode records a 15-second video clip to e-mail instantly to up to eight registered addresses; or you can directly connect to a smartphone and use it to transfer and upload video to sharing sites, get geotags for photos and videos, or remotely control the camcorder.

Now, setting it up to do all that stuff isn't the easiest, but if being able to do those things is a plus for you, the EX250 or EX210 (which sheds the 16GB internal memory, but is otherwise the same) might be worth considering. That is, if you can live with the rest of the package.

Video quality
All full HD video is not created equal, and while the GZ-EX250 can produce OK results, it's not the full HD quality you'll get from a higher-end camcorder. It's basically a step up from a pocket video camera or a high-end smartphone.

You get decent detail and sharpness at small sizes on a computer screen, but enlarged on my 24-inch display, the video looks fairly soft and smeary, more like standard definition than HD. Viewing on a larger HDTV makes its shortcomings more noticeable, but it is still OK when viewed from proper distances if you're not overly critical. Perhaps more importantly, it handles fast-moving subjects better than those other devices with minimal ghosting, and I found judder when panning wasn't a problem either.

However, if you're considering this for regularly shooting sports, this model only has electronic image stabilization. Without some sort of support, using the zoom or moving up and down the sidelines will result in some pretty shaky shots or poorer video quality from using the EIS or both. If you're not willing to use a tripod, consider spending more for a model with optical image stabilization.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Colors in auto mode (which is what I expect most people will use) are bright and vivid, but some may find them slightly unnatural-looking. If you're looking for accurate colors, this probably won't make you happy. However, many people like their colors to pop, and that's what the GZ-EX250 delivers. Its white balance is good, though it is a little warm under incandescent light.

The camcorder's back-illuminated CMOS sensor does help produce better low-light video than past entry-level JVC models with CCD sensors. You'll still see noise and subjects look soft, but it's good if you're viewing at smaller sizes. Low light will also cause the autofocus to do more hunting, so you may notice your subject pulsing in and out of focus.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

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.

Conclusion
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.

JVC Everio GZ-EX250 - camcorder - flash card
6.8

JVC Everio GZ-EX250

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6Image quality 6