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JVC's odd Everios

Most of the new models offer less power for the same money. Hmmm.

JVC Everio GZ-MG330
JVC Everio GZ-MG330 JVC America

JVC made surprisingly few camcorder announcements for early 2008, which included a standard-def Everio hard-disk camcorder lineup of only two basic models, one of which comes in four flavors. On the other hand, based on the specs, they actually sound worse than their 2007 counterparts, for the same prices.

The $799 GZ-MG730, slated to ship in February, tops the line with its 1/2.5-inch 7-megapixel sensor (for producing high-resolution stills), 2.7-inch LCD, and 30GB hard disk. But oddly, the 10x zoom lens is really slow. Its maximum aperture only goes as wide as f3.5 in a category where f2.8 is typical and f1.8 common. That means potential problems for shooting in low light. JVC has also switched to Konica Minolta for the lenses across the line.

And while the MG730 boasts an overly high-resolution sensor, the rest of the line suffers from the opposite problem.The 30GB MG330 ($450)/MG335 ($500) and 60GB MG360 ($560)/MG365 ($600) all use a 1/6-inch 680K-pixel sensor. There's no such endowment issues in the lens department; all incorporate an f1.8 35x zoom stalker telephoto lens. Model names with "5" at the end come with bundled docks. Oddly, only the lowest-end product, the MG300, comes in multiple colors: blue and red in addition to silver.

While JVC is making a big deal about the Laser Touch Operation interface that appears on all the new models, I wasn't too impressed. It's basically a touch-sensitive strip down the left side of the LCD, which looks cool--blue LEDs highlight your finger's progress up and down the strip--but in practice is kind of clunky to work with.

Of the 300 series products, all but the MG360 are slated to ship this month; the MG360 will appear in February.