JVC's Everio GZ-MG330 was one of the camcorder successes of 2008. Combining real camcorder abilities with hard disk recording for under £300 proved to be a market-winning formula. But as 2009 draws on, and even pocket Internet camcorders go HD, there is clearly room for a similarly potent but pocket-friendly model in high definition. So now we have the GZ-HD300. It's only 10g heavier than the MG330, a mere millimetre wider, and also comes in a choice of colours, in this case red, black or blue (denoted by the last three letters after the 300).
The HD300 cements JVC's move from three-CCD to single-CMOS sensors. However, despite its smaller size, this model actually sports a larger CMOS than the GZ-HD10, at 1/4.1in compared to 1/4.5in, although not the 1/3in unit of the GZ-HD40. This is a 3.05-megapixel sensor, too, although JVC only allows still image capture at up to 1,920 x 1,080.
Video is recorded to a 60GB hard disk, and as with the HD10 only the AVCHD format is offered, not the quirky MPEG-2 option JVC favoured until the previous generation. However, JVC has now followed Canon's lead and added support for High Profile, Level 4.1. So now the top data rate is 24Mbits/sec. Even at this setting, you can store 5.5 hours of footage, and this rises to over 27 hours in the lowest quality mode. On the downside, there is no progressive option, so all quality settings are interlaced.
Unlike the two previous models, JVC has kept the enthusiast-oriented features to a minimum. The sleek coloured body has no accessory shoe or minijacks for microphone and headphone. The menu control system has switched to JVC's consumer-oriented ‘Laser Touch Operation', too. This provides a bar to the side of the 2.7in LCD which you stroke with a finger up and down to navigate options. It then glows blue in sympathy with your caresses. We found this system did take some getting used to, however, making us regularly overshoot menu options.
Overall, though, the HD300 is meant to be used in automatic mode most of the time. Face detection has been added, so the camera will automatically set exposure according to any human phizogs it picks up. But as with other implementations this isn't a perfect system, and it struggled to lock onto shadowed faces when the background was significantly brighter than the intended subject matter.