Top critical review
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Good but not good enough
on 7 February 2010
JVC GZ HM200 camcorder
In poor light, image may be acceptable but grainy or else hopelessly dim and grainy. This camera really needs strong outdoor light. If the user wants to make indoor video clips or photos, forget it, domestic lighting is not good enough, even daylight through windows may not be enough.
JVC does not seem to have heard of 720p resolution. A lot of people have 720p high definition (high def. / HD) TVs. Recording has to be either 1080 pixels or much lower resolutions - very strange.
File size for 1080p video clips are huge for their duration. Both supplied 4GB SD cards were filled in a few days.
Battery life is VERY poor - the time between charges for high resolution video seems much too short. Also very short HD playback time through camera to TV before battery gives out. Battery expensive for a spare one or to replace - about £30. There are higher capacity JVC batteries that are compatible - but of course, still more expensive.
Image stabilisation effectiveness - not sure, but on low to medium zoom, images are sharp. Bought a monopod stand for more stability. Very little delay between pressing the button and photograph being taken. The start-up is also fast. Close-up (macro) photography seems fine too.
Common cables are supplied, needed but uncommon cables (HDMI: type C to type A) are not supplied - why? - seems like penny-pinching. I bought a normal (type A) HDMI to HDMI cable plus an adapter for the camera end (mini HDMI or type C) in order to see the output on HD TV via its HDMI socket. No problem playing HD video on computer (apart from occasional judder - Vista OS), except that 1920x1080 exceeded the resolution of my 19" screen, but still good.
The body uses chromium plated plastic trim - took me right back to the cheap toys I had in the sixties - definitely not a sign of good design.
It has a dedicated button for 'YouTube' - very fashionable and equally unnecessary. There are obviously ways of uploading other than this - I think it's just a gimmick.
Software has some very useful features including backup from SD cards to the computer - all files are put in dated folders, so the user knows when any video or photograph was taken. Editing the length of video clips is fairly easy, BUT I never found any way of saving the edited files to computer - very odd.
The system for scrolling/selecting from the onboard menu without touching the viewscreen seems to work well.
A far as I can tell this camcorder doesn't seem to have any advanced features like fast record/slow-motion video playback, but it does have (I found very recently) continuous shot photography - if you can find this option in the menu system.
The user guide booklet is awful.
From most of the above I get the impression that JVC does not expect this camera to be used much for HD recording. It is a great pity since for short HD 1080p clips in very good light, this camera can give exceptional results - yes, alright I did get some. Its optics, including zoom are very good - and from what I have read, a 20x optical zoom is itself exceptional for a full HD camcorder.
But, I can't recommend this camera and will be returning it to QVC. One day before too long, I hope to have a camcorder (quite possibly by JVC) that has this one's capabilities but without its shortcomings.