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JVC Everio GZ-MC100 review: JVC Everio GZ-MC100

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The Good Very compact for features provided. Cleverly concealed compartments.

The Bad Too easy for finger to get in the way of the large lens or over the tiny sensor.

The Bottom Line Will we banish video tapes? Perhaps not. However the Everio shows us what's possible. The camcorder is, at the very least, an interesting and glamorous addition for the enthusiast.

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The palm-sized camera records directly to a removable hard disk, offering high resolution and reasonable duration. It can capture up to 60 minutes of DVD-quality video on a 4GB Microdrive.

Prying digital tapes from the hands of the average cameraperson might take a little persuasion, but if any device can coax them to experiment, it could be the sophisticated little Everio.

The camcorder has a 2-Megapixel CCD and records footage in MPEG2 video format. There are four resolution settings for video capture. The 4GB Microdrive will provide storage for 60 minutes of its best - 'Ultra fine' - quality, or if picture quality is not so important, as much as 300 minutes at 'economy' resolution.

There's little point offering high quality recording options without a decent lens. JVC has matched the unit with what it calls a 'Super Hi-Resolution' glass moulded lens for picture quality. Importantly, there's also a 10x optical zoom (electronically, the camera can provide a 200x digital zoom) and both auto and manual focus for photographers who occasionally like a little control.

Unlike some camcorders, where stills are almost an afterthought, the Everio offers a fair blending of video and photo features. One could easily take this device on an outing and leave their regular camera at home.

The Everio can create high-resolution still images with JPEGs at UXGA (1600 by 1200 pixels). Storage cards are the norm in digital stills photography. With the whopping Microdrive the Everio can store plenty of pics. The Microdrive is a kind of CompactFlash card and the same slot can take other CompactFlash cards if desired. There's also separate SD MemoryCard slot available.

The Everio comes in two styles - the more familiar shape of the Pro-style GZ-MC200 and the 'Casual' GZ-MC100, which is vertical in form (and the one CNET.com.au reviewed).

Both are very compact for the features they provide, although the upright MC100 is perhaps the looker. Gadget lovers will appreciate the beauty of cleverly concealed compartments (just check the instructions if you can't find them).

However, the vertical camera may not be the best choice for users with clumsy hands. It is too easy to stick a finger on the large lens or over the tiny sensor.

It may be a matter of personal taste, but this reviewer also missed having a viewfinder. The Everio has a slim flip-out 1.8-inch LCD monitor.

With USB, the camera connects to a PC very easily, but the bundled software is perhaps the biggest letdown of the package. The CyberLink DVD software suite allows for the editing and burning of home movies, but is clunky and uninspiring.

The Microdrive is a very important part of the camera and may require a change of attitude towards video storage on the part of users. Certainly the Microdrive needs to be handled with care. It needs to be formatted before use. And should the Everio ever need repair, the hard drive will need to come along as well.

When the drive becomes full, stored footage will need transfer to computer or deletion. Unless one wants to stock up on storage cards (additional 4GB Microdrives are a hefty AU$499 RRP).

There are some rather straightforward benefits of hard disk recording, such as immediate playback (no more waiting for tapes to unwind). But this new era also requires a little consumer education. One segment of the Everio manual tries to explain how to delete recorded data - and, as a last resort, even suggests smashing a storage card to dispose of personal data.

Will we banish video tapes? Perhaps not. However the Everio shows us what's possible. The camcorder is, at the very least, an interesting and glamorous addition for the enthusiast.

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