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JVC jumped on a couple of bandwagons at once when it launched the GZ-MS100. Not only was this the company's first flash memory-based model, it also promised direct YouTube uploading, like the Flip Video Ultra and Creative Vado. Now we have a mild update in the form of the Everio GZ-MS120. So what's new?
For a start, the chassis looks a little fatter, although in reality it's virtually the same size. It is around 20g heavier than the GZ-MS100, however. Most of this can be attributed to the most major improvement - dual SD Card slots. In theory, you could populate both with 32GB SDHC media. Video is recorded in the same selection of MPEG-2 formats, with 8.5Mbits/sec the top data rate. So with 64GB of flash memory on board you could record 15 hours of footage, and the GZ-MS120 will switch between cards automatically as you record.
There are some more subtle differences, too. The built-in sliding lens cover is now automatic rather than manual. Another difference you probably won't immediately notice is reduced power consumption. JVC now claims the camcorder draws 1.8W rather than 2.3W. Considering the same battery pack is supplied, the GZ-MS120 should last noticeably longer. We certainly found it lasted for well over two hours of usage, which is exactly what you need for a pocket-friendly shooter such as this. The LCD is slightly higher resolution, too, with 123Kpixels compared to 112Kpixels.
Internally, though, the GZ-MS120 is pretty much the same as the GZ-MS100. It still relies on a small 1/6in CCD sensor with 800Kpixels. This allows the camcorder's Konica Minolta lens to offer a whopping 35x optical zoom. However, the GZ-MS120 offers a slightly improved top digital photo resolution of 832 x 624, where its predecessor maxed out at 640 x 480. The image processor is now JVC's HD Gigabrid Premium, rather than the Gigabrid Engine of the predecessor.
Camera control is also still mostly provided by JVC's (literally) flashy Laser Touch Operation. In manual mode, you can adjust focus, brightness, and shutter speed. However, focusing with the Laser Touch Operation is at best a black art, so you probably won't want to use it. You can at least independently configure the shutter from ½ to 1/4,000th sec, and brightness from -6 to +6. Alternatively, the usual array of Night, Twilight, Portrait, Sports, Snow and Spotlight scene modes are available. These settings are all buried at the second level of the menu, though, further discouraging you from using them. Fortunately, backlight compensation has its own special control. You simply touch the appropriate position on the Laser Touch Operation strip to enable or disable it.