Editors' note: The JVC Everio JVC GZ-EX250 is identical to its linemate the EX210, except for storage: the EX250 has 16GB of internal flash memory and an SD card slot, the EX210 has only an SD card slot. Similarly, the GZ-E200 is nearly the same as the EX250, but has no built-in Wi-Fi or internal storage, only an SD card slot. The E200 also doesn't have Pet Detection, Face Decoration, Stamp, and Hand Writing editing options.
As with most entry-level camcorders, the JVC Everio GZ-EX250 and its two linemates, the EX210 and E200, are more about features than video quality.
For the EX250, the big features are a 40x optical zoom, 16GB of internal storage and an SD card slot for up to 64GB more, and built-in Wi-Fi. Most potential buyers understand why they want the first two. The last one, though, is harder for some to grasp.
To JVC's credit, the EX250 can do a lot with its wireless. It can allow you to use the camcorder for live monitoring -- either directly on an iOS or Android device or over the Web with a Windows 7 computer; it can act as a motion detector, automatically taking a photo when it picks up movement and sending it by e-mail; a Video Email mode records a 15-second video clip to e-mail instantly to up to eight registered addresses; or you can directly connect to a smartphone and use it to transfer and upload video to sharing sites, get geotags for photos and videos, or remotely control the camcorder.
Now, setting it up to do all that stuff isn't the easiest, but if being able to do those things is a plus for you, the EX250 or EX210 (which sheds the 16GB internal memory, but is otherwise the same) might be worth considering. That is, if you can live with the rest of the package.
All full HD video is not created equal, and while the GZ-EX250 can produce OK results, it's not the full HD quality you'll get from a higher-end camcorder. It's basically a step up from a pocket video camera or a high-end smartphone.
You get decent detail and sharpness at small sizes on a computer screen, but enlarged on my 24-inch display, the video looks fairly soft and smeary, more like standard definition than HD. Viewing on a larger HDTV makes its shortcomings more noticeable, but it is still OK when viewed from proper distances if you're not overly critical. Perhaps more importantly, it handles fast-moving subjects better than those other devices with minimal ghosting, and I found judder when panning wasn't a problem either.
However, if you're considering this for regularly shooting sports, this model only has electronic image stabilization. Without some sort of support, using the zoom or moving up and down the sidelines will result in some pretty shaky shots or poorer video quality from using the EIS or both. If you're not willing to use a tripod, consider spending more for a model with optical image stabilization.
Colors in auto mode (which is what I expect most people will use) are bright and vivid, but some may find them slightly unnatural-looking. If you're looking for accurate colors, this probably won't make you happy. However, many people like their colors to pop, and that's what the GZ-EX250 delivers. Its white balance is good, though it is a little warm under incandescent light.
The camcorder's back-illuminated CMOS sensor does help produce better low-light video than past entry-level JVC models with CCD sensors. You'll still see noise and subjects look soft, but it's good if you're viewing at smaller sizes. Low light will also cause the autofocus to do more hunting, so you may notice your subject pulsing in and out of focus.