As the pioneer of consumer camcorders which use hard disks for recording, JVC had a head start with its Everios. When we looked at the GZ-MG505EK last year, it still led the pack for next-generation camcorders. But now that both Canon and Sony have joined the fray, with quite a few models offering high definition recording to disk as well (including JVC's own GZ-HD7), a standard definition camcorder like the GZ-MG575EK can't trade on the novelty of its recording medium alone. So is this Everio, like its predecessor, the must-have video device for those not ready for the move to HD, or is it now just an also-ran?
Although ostensibly the successor to the GZ-MG505EK, the MG575EK takes a rather different approach electronically. Where the older model sported a trio of reasonably sized 1/4.5in CCDs with 1.3Mpixels apiece, the new one uses a single much larger 1/2.5in sensor. The gross resolution is 5.4Mpixels, though. So maximum still image resolution remains a similar 2,592 x 1,944. This means the MG575EK could readily double as your digital camera, albeit a portly alternative. It's also worth noting that no pixel shifting is used with the MG575EK, as the CCD's native resolution matches still image size.
The JVC includes a 40GB hard disk for video recording, which for standard resolution video is pretty capacious. Even at the top Ultra Fine setting, which uses an 8.5Mbits/sec data rate with MPEG-2 compression, you can record 570 minutes of video, rising to 50 hours in the quarter-resolution Economy mode. An SD slot is also provided, should you wish to extend your storage or record your still images on a removable medium.
Although nowhere near as svelte as Panasonic's HDC-SD5, the JVC is comfortable to use. It has an integrated lens cover, which operates manually via a slider on the side of the lens. There's no viewfinder, but using your hand to steady the camcorder via its LCD puts both hands in just the right place to operate most of the important controls.