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This is my first camcorder, and on the whole, I'm relatively pleased with my purchase. It's light weight, it's easy-to-use, it has some decent features for it's price, and an integrated hard drive means there's no need to worry about SD cards or playing the entire film back on the camcorder whilst transferring the files to the computer.
30GB integrated hard drive, with MicroSD slot to increase recording capacity should you run out.
4 recording modes, from the battery-saving economy mode to the ultra fine mode for highest quality.
Between 7 and 37 hours of recording time on the storage device, depending on the recording mode.
35x optical zoom and 800x digital zoom.
16:9 recording aspect ratio, with the ability to change to 4:3 if necessary
2.7 inch LCD screen.
Files are recorded in .MOD format, a variant of the proprietary MPEG-2 format.
It's around 300g (about 11 ounces) so is very lightweight.
USB 2.0 slot for transferring files to your computer.
Touch screen menu navigation.
I was attracted to the JVC GZ-MG330 camcorder because I use a Mac and it was supposedly compatible with my Operating System. The price was quite low in comparison to other camcorders, and it received generally good reviews. Unfortunately, my own experience hasn't been fantastic - I've had a number of compatibility issues on the Macintosh, which seriously downgraded picture quality. I discovered that at least part of the problem was related to video interlacing - the video had to be de-interlaced when converted from .MOD to another format to prevent horizontal lines appearing. If you are using a Mac, I recommend you look for another camcorder.
Video playback generally
While the playback on my Mac wasn't too good, I played the video back on my TV using the enclosed SCART cables and the quality was fantastic. I really didn't expect it to look that good, considering what it looked like on my Mac. Playback on my PC was generally OK, although it didn't seem quite as good as on the TV either.
The enclosed software isn't really too good. It doesn't come with any software for Mac (you can plug it straight in and it works with iMovie) but the software that runs on Windows seemed unstable and inadequate. If you want to do anything with the video, you are best off doing it with a 3rd party software application.
Battery life seems to be a serious issue when recording in ultra fine mode. I found the rechargeable battery that came with the camcorder lost it's power very quickly (within perhaps 30-45 minutes) when recording in the top video mode.
Extremely lightweight to carry - if only all camcorders were this light.
Still image photo quality is quite poor - certainly nowhere near as good as your average digital camera.
.MOD is a proprietary MPEG-2 format and is not natively supported by any media players on Mac. iMovie will usually play the file but Quicktime won't, so to do so, you need to use an application like MPEG Streamclip. On Windows, Windows Media Player plays the files fine, but you may need to convert them if you plan to edit them (i.e. in Windows Movie Maker). So far, I haven't done this, but there are plenty of tutorials elsewhere online on how to do so.
If you are using a Windows PC, I would recommend this camcorder. It's easy-to-use, lightweight, has some decent technical features and is fairly low cost. It's perfect for home movies.
If you are using a Mac, I do not recommend choosing this camcorder. There are compatibility issues with it, even though Apple say it's supported by iMovie. The picture quality is pretty poor once the videos are on your Mac, and on top of that, you have to pay out £20.00 to play MPEG-2 encoded files in Quicktime. Apple seem to be behind in this regard, as not many camcorders are supported by iMovie or Final Cut Pro right now.