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JVC was the first company to release consumer-oriented hard disk-based camcorders. But its Everios are under increasing competition from other manufacturers - as well as the latest flash memory models. So JVC is making its hard disk camcorders smaller, more compact, and better value. Leading the charge at the budget end of the scale is the GZ-MG330, which is also aiming to please the more style-conscious videomaker. You can have it in red, blue, silver, and black. So you can choose whichever one matches your usual outfit.
Despite its fruity new look, the MG330 has a relatively run of the mill specification. It's built around a 1/6in CCD with a gross 800,000 pixels, but only half that number is used for video or still images. This is par for the course for a camcorder at this price, and the largest digital photos are therefore only 640 x 480. So the MG330 is no convergence special either.
Thanks to its small sensor, the JVC offers a whopping 35x optical zoom, although you can add digital zoom to make 70x or a ridiculous 800x. There's a manual shutter over the lens, instead of a cap, which is operated by a switch on the side. Image stabilisation is of the digital variety, rather than the more effective optical version. The microphone is sensibly placed at the front of the unit, rather than on top as with so many camcorder designs these days.
Video is primarily recorded to a 1.8in hard disk with 30GB capacity, although there is a slot for a micro SDHC card. Shooting is exclusively at the DVD resolution of 720 x 576, using MPEG-2 compression. Four quality modes are available - Ultra Fine at 8.5Mbits/sec, Fine at 5.5Mbits/sec, Norm at 4.2Mbits/sec, and Eco at 1.5Mbits/sec. In the latter mode, you can store over 37 hours of video, although this drops to around seven hours in Ultra Fine.