While other manufacturers have been hedging their bets with camcorders using every conceivable recording format, JVC has been resolutely sticking with the hard disk-based models it pioneered. Until now.
The new Everio S range, with the GZ-MS100 at its vanguard, has turned to flash memory to reduce size and weight. The GZ-MS100 is also jumping on the latest camcorder bandwagon, promising direct YouTube connectivity, allowing you to upload your videos straight to the Web at the push of a single button.
The basic specification is fairly standard for a camcorder in this price range. The sensor is the usual 1/6in CCD, in this case with 800,000 pixels. In fact, features are virtually identical to JVC's Everio GZ-MG330. The main difference is the recording medium, with the MS100 using SDHC rather than the MG330's hard disk. As a result, the MS100 is quite a bit lighter, 270g versus 360g, but not much smaller.
The MS100 has the same whopping 35x optical zoom. You can also select 70x and a ridiculous 800x digital zoom - but you will be a gifted psychic to make out any detail at this level of digital magnification. It has the same F1.8 Konica Minolta lens as the MG330, an identical manually operated protective lens shutter, and electronic image stabilisation.
Four shooting modes are available, all of which use MPEG-2 compression. The top Ultra Fine mode has an 8.5Mbits/sec data rate, whilst Fine operates at 5.5Mbits/sec, Normal at 4.2Mbits/sec, and Economy 1.5Mbits/sec. The first three record at the regular PAL resolution of 720 x 576, but Economy mode drops down to 352 x 288. Whilst this could come in handy for day-long surveillance, an 8GB card will be enough for about two hours of footage even at the top quality setting, so you're most likely to use that all the time. No memory card is included, however, so this will need to be factored into the price.