Given the heritage of JVC products, my expectations were relatively high. Though I'm sure the unit is mechanically and electronically sound, I found the ergonomics to be disastrous. From other reviews I understood that the unit was small and not for those with larger hands. I felt I was safe because my hands are small.
However, this unit was small even for my hands - perhaps a good candidate for children. Here are the ergonomic weaknesses I found:
1. No matter how I positioned the strap, I could not seem to get a comfortable and useful grip on the device.
2. With the battery projecting from the back of the unit, it was nearly impossible for my thumb to reach the record button. I imagine it would even be worse with the extended-life (and depth) of the larger batteries. I suppose one could use the index finger of the right hand.
3. The Play, Up/Left, Down/Right, OK/Info, and Menu buttons run down the inside rear of the camcorder and are impossible to press with one's thumb. I found I have to use my index finger (or fingernail) from my other hand to press these tiny buttons. Though it would probably be too much to expect for the cost of this unit, it could have benefited from a pushbutton wheel with center OK as is popular with many digital cameras. Backlighting would also be helpful to identify the buttons, so don't expect to press any controls at Becky's recital without a flashlight.
4. The index finger is supposed to rest on the Wide/Tele lever. But just behind the lever is a rarely used button toggling between Auto and Manual modes. I don't know why this option couldn't have been selectable from a menu. I found I needed to use my middle finger to adjust the W/T lever so as not to accidentally switch to manual mode.
5. Speaking of menus, some functions are several levels deep. For example, one has to press buttons no less than five times to get to the focus function in manual mode (from auto mode.) And then the rough focus, (pressing and holding the tiny up/down buttons, and not using the lever as one would expect,) swept too large a range, and the fine focus performed by single presses of the buttons took an eternity to reach total manual focus. It helped to zoom in to the subject area for manual focus, and then zoom back for composition.
There was also a nuisance I should have taken heed from another user. This would have been a deal breaker if I knew what I know now. The resultant files this camcorder produces is not in a typical video format such as AVI, WMV, MOV, FLV, MPG, MPEG, or MP4. Instead, it formats video as MTS files (mpeg transport stream, supporting HD video reproduction.) This is fine if you want to watch videos directly from the camcorder or while connected to a TV or other video device. Trouble is, if you want to download the files and watch them on your computer, you have to locate and download an MTS viewer to watch them. Worse, if you want to convert the files to another format for editing and other purposes, you have to locate and download a converter. The converters I’ve found take about ten minutes to convert a four minute file. It doesn’t take a math genius to calculate the conversion time for a half hour video.
About the only redeeming quality I found on this camcorder is its amazing 40x optical zoom. All said, if one can get around the ergonomic nightmares, this could be a good value as an entry level camcorder for the kids, grandkids, or adults with VERY small hands.
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