JVC GZ-MG255 Camcorder Review
The JVC GZ-MG255 is the middle child in this year’s Everio hard disk drive camcorder line. In the style of classic middle child syndrome, the camcorder sits meekly in the back of the classroom, ignored and forgettable. It’s not that JVC has done anything particularly wrong – the camcorder doesn’t have enough going for it. The good manual control suite is undercut by poor auto mode, the convenience of the HDD medium is undercut by the lackluster image quality. It will certainly have a hard time satisfying a large general audience. Let’s see what worked and what didn’t.
Audio / Playback / Connectivity
Audio is not the strongpoint of an Everio. These are consumer camcorders geared toward pointing, shooting, and replaying on a TV. With that in mind, the GZ-MG255’s 2-channel Dolby digital onboard microphone provides subpar audio performance, to say the most. Then again, you can expect the same audio quality on any camcorder within this price range unless they offer a mic input. Certain Panasonics have the best onboard sound options, including the utilization of zoom mics and independent audio level control, but that’s not until you reach their higher end spectrum, including the HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 AVCHD models. The GZ-MG255 does have a wind cut feature, which merely reduces the high-end tones caused by wind. That’s all the audio control you get with the GZ-MG255.
Playing back footage on the GZ-MG255 is a bit of a mixed bag. The menu interface is smart (and familiar between most random access camcorders) showing a thumbnail for each clip. But getting them to play back is another matter. All navigation is dictated by the LCD-mounted joystick, which is finicky. This includes basic playback controls like play, rewind, etc. There are no marking on the screen or the body of the camcorder to elucidate the process. All that is visible on the LCD screen is a small "play" symbol in the top right corner. Pressing the center of the joystick pauses the clip, right is fast forward, left is rewind, and up and down shuffles through clips. You’re going to have to memorize the joystick action positions here because there are no labels, on or off-screen, which is pretty bogus. Playback volume is controlled via the zoom toggle, and that’s a good thing—who wants to wade through an elaborate Administrative menu?
The playback screen,
You can obtain clip information including file name, folder, date/time, and quality recorded in by simply scrolling over an icon and pressing the Info button. The Administrative menu is available in Playback mode as well, but the function button cues a different menu.
When a clip is highlighted, pressing the function button activates a menu that includes the following options: delete, protect, edited copy, change event reg., effect, wipe/fader, playback playlist, edit playlist, playback MPG file, and playback normal file. The index button allows you to search individual clips by date, and pressing it once more offers the option to create an event list. When a USB cable is connected, you can dub footage directly to a DVD or backup files by accessing the Direct DVD and Direct Backup buttons.
The GZ-MG255 contains ports within the front, back, and bottom sides of the camcorder’s body. The USB terminal is located in front, housed by a meager plastic tab that has the propensity to yank out of its slot, even by a medium strength tug. The same cover situation applies to the AV and DC in ports located in back. Though these thin plastic strips can be yanked out with the greatest of ease, they do not snap or break off, but rather fit back in their slot, secured by a tiny plastic tab. The SD card slot is located on the bottom, secured by a rectangular plastic door. You’ll experience the annoyance of this design when you attempt to swap a card out while the GZ-MG255 is mounted to a tripod.
|The GZ-MG255's USB port on the front||And the AV-in/out and DC power located on the rear|
The GZ-MG255 comes with a docking station that offers the following connections: S-Video, AV out, DC in, FireWire, and USB. It’s odd to see an HDD camcorder with a FireWire terminal—they’re usually only found on MiniDV camcorders. The S-Video option is a nice blast from the past, and users will certainly not have trouble outputting their video by some means with the GZ-MG255’s docking station.
We're happy to report that the GZ-MG255, along with the GZ-MG155, offers analog input through the AV jack. To activate it, visit the General subsection of the main menu.
|The GZ-MG255 in its docking station|
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