Canon's MVX camcorders tread the middle ground between cheap and cheerful and semi-professional. Models such as the MVX25i (November 04) offer some of the best features available in a single-chip (one light sensor) camcorder, for a very reasonable price. But the MVX300 range is aimed a little lower - at the discerning budget buyer.
The MVX330i sits in the middle of the new range, between the FireWire-out-only MVX300 and the premium MVX350i, which costs £70 more.
Across the range, the optical features are commendable. The 1/4.5in CCD is relatively large and will give better response in low light. But its 1.33Mp (megapixel) resolution is only average - the resulting 1,280x960 still images won't have you leaving your standalone digicam in the drawer when you go on holiday.
However, as a camcorder, the MVX330i's credentials are impressive. The menu wheel gives direct access to five auto-exposure modes. There are a number of nightshot options, shutter settings ranging from 1/50th to 1/2,000th of a second and a huge range of digital effects. However, with no lens ring, manual focusing is done with the menu wheel which is fiddly.
There's no S-Video connectivity, only composite. An accessory shoe is available on the top, plus minijacks for both headphones and an external microphone. To round it off, the MVX330i loads tapes from the top, making it tripod friendly. For the more serious user, this camcorder covers almost all the bases. The only omission is manual audio level control, and that's a very rare feature.