First Take: JVC GZ-MC200
JVC heats up the competition in the consumer MPEG video camera market with this extremely compact model. Capable of recording MPEG-2 video, 2-megapixel JPEG stills, and audio-only files, the GZ-MC200 has an attractive swiveling-lens design and comes with a 4GB Microdrive for recording up to an hour of video at the highest-quality setting.
Upside: The GZ-MC200 is endowed with a 10X zoom lens, a built-in flash for stills, and a healthy basic feature set for capturing both video and stills. It has a thoughtful, flexible design that's both compact and comfortable in the hand. You can record to the included Microdrive, a CompactFlash Type II card, or an SD card, which increases both the GZ-MC200's capacity and the chance that the media cards you already own will be compatible.
Downside: The only viewfinder is a 1.8-inch LCD on the back of the camera. In very bright light or when trying to be discreet in the dark, an eyepiece viewfinder would be a better option. It's great that JVC includes a 4GB Microdrive with the camera, but every time you fill it up, you'll have to download your video to a computer or another storage device before you can resume shooting. That makes it less than convenient as a travel camera, despite its compact design.
Outlook: JVC once again moves a new product area forward and appeals to technophiles who are willing to pay a premium for the latest and coolest technology. At $1,300 list, the GZ-MC200 will be a hard sell for most other consumers, who have the alternative of buying a decent and very compact MiniDV camcorder (albeit without 2-megapixel still capture) for about a third of the price. The JVC GZ-MC200 will be available in October.