The high-end entry in JVC's line of D-series compact camcorders, the GR-D650 offers low-light performance that's better than you'd expect in a budget-priced camcorder. With its 1.3-megapixel CCD and an f/1.2, 15X zoom lens, this MiniDV camcorder turns in better video quality than JVC's more expensive hard disk-based Everio line.
Relatively compact and weighing a little more than a pound, the JVC GR-D650 has a tall, thin design that fits comfortably in the hand and is compact enough to slip into a jacket pocket. The case is typical silver-and-gray plastic fare, with a solid design that feels like it should hold up well to everyday handling. Like most modern camcorders, the GR-D650 relegates the majority of its settings to menus, but you will find buttons for common functions, as well as a four-way directional pad that does double duty for menu navigation and quick access to settings such as backlight compensation. The GR-D650's menus are well organized and easy to navigate.
The 2.5-inch LCD is reasonably detailed for 4:3 shooting, but when shooting in 16:9 mode, a large black bar appears at the bottom of the screen. The resulting small wide-screen image lacks the necessary detail for precise operations such as manual focus.
Though the battery and the SD card slot are easily accessible when the camcorder is mounted on a tripod, the bottom-ejecting tape slot means tripod users will have to remove the GR-D650 in order to switch tapes. Battery life is decent at about 1.5 hours under typical shooting conditions.