JVC Everio GZ-MC200: An Hour of DVD with No Cassette!


JVC surprised everyone in October by announcing the Everio, a little camcorder that records not to cassette, but to a 4 GB removable hard disk: the Hitachi Microdrive. The advantage of this is that the unit can immediately play back videos or quickly transfer them to a computer to burn them onto DVD on the fly, without compression. In short, the JVC GZ-MC200 is a real alternative to a DV camcorder thanks to its image quality, recording capacity, and flexibility of use.

Choice Of Media And Resolution

Don't look for the MiniDV cassette, because there isn't one! The Everio is a kind of "video alien". It has two slots - one for the Microdrive (or Compact Flash card) and the other for an SD (or MMC) card. You can choose to record video or still photos to either medium; the choice is selected in the camcorder's menu (CF / SD).

The Everio includes a 4 GB Microdrive, a mini removable hard disk the size of a box of matches. The SD card, on the other hand, is not included. Be careful not to drop your Microdrive, since even though it's light and compact, there is still a fragile hard disk mechanism inside. The camcorder can record to either of the two media, but we advise you to shoot video to the Microdrive and photos to the SD card, since video eats up a lot more storage space.

The 4 GB Microdrive will let you shoot one hour of video in MPEG-2 compression at a resolution of 720x576 pixels and a data rate of 8.5 MB/sec (in Ultra Fine mode); audio is recorded in AC3 format. These parameters correspond to the DVD-Video standard, which facilitates the DVD-Video creation stage, as we'll see later.

Ultra Fine mode results in an image definition that's identical to DV - in other words, excellent. You give up nothing in that area if you replace your old camcorder with an Everio. Here's a video sample:

Video in Ultra Fine mode: Video sample - 84 MB .

The recording time can be extended to five hours by reducing the definition to 352x288 pixels and the video bit rate to 1.5 MB/sec (Eco mode). That corresponds to quality similar to that of VHS or Video CD - very average.

Note: Whether you record to an SD card or to the Microdrive, the video quality is the same. Just be sure your SD card can handle the amount of information you are trying to put on it.