This review appears in the March issue of PC Advisor, available now.

The JVC Everio started off targeting the gadget-loving early adopter. The GZ-MC500EK had desirability written all over it. But it's still around £750, and yet only records an hour of best-quality video out of the box. So JVC has come up with the Everio MG range, using 1.8in fixed internal hard disks rather than Hitachi Microdrives for greater capacity.

The GZ-MG50EK is a premium model, offering an impressive 30GB. And while the MG20 and MG30 use 1/6in CCDs (charge-coupled devices) with an 800Kp (kilopixel) resolution, the MG50 has a 1/4.5in one with 1.33Mp. It also uses an f1.2 lens, not f1.8.

The flagship MG70, however, goes one better, with a 1/3.6in CCD and 2.12Mp, but it costs over £600. With a price tag closer to £500, the MG50 sits in a rather more affordable bracket.

During usage, there's little indication that the MG50 is recording to hard disk instead of tape, except that the 30GB drive is enough to store a whopping seven hours and 15 minutes of video, even in the top quality mode. As Mpeg2 compression is used instead of DV, you can also reduce quality to three other settings, allowing up to 37 hours and 41 minutes in Economy mode.

In case you're worried about carrying round a hard disk, the MG50 features drop detection similar to that in IBM notebooks. Sharp motion causes the heads to be lifted from the disk surface, reducing damage.

The MG50 is otherwise pretty standard, with all the usual manual controls and settings. However, no accessory shoe, microphone input or headphone jack are available, so this is no camcorder for the enthusiast.

Image quality was decent enough, with faithful colours in bright daylight conditions. Performance under artificial lighting was a little weaker, but about what you'd expect from a mid-range single-CCD camcorder.

JVC Everio GZ-MG50EK: Specs

  • 1.33Mp CCD
  • Mpeg2 recording to internal hard disk
  • f1.2
  • 15x optical zoom
  • 1,152x864 still resolution
  • USB 2.0-in/-out, AV-out
  • S/video-out
  • 30GB 1.8in hard disk
  • 1.33Mp CCD
  • Mpeg2 recording to internal hard disk
  • f1.2
  • 15x optical zoom
  • 1,152x864 still resolution
  • USB 2.0-in/-out, AV-out
  • S/video-out
  • 30GB 1.8in hard disk

OUR VERDICT

There are cheaper Everio MGs, but low-light performance lets them down. The MG50 is stronger in this respect. You're paying a premium for the hard disk technology, but if you hate lugging a bagful of tapes around with you, the GZ-MG50 could be right up your street.

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