"A small, light machine with great picture quality"4.0 starson by jules67UK
Pros: 24mbps HD
easy to use on screen controls
2 SD card slots
Easy to use
can charge from USB
Can back up to USB hard drives.
Cons: Battery life could be better (bigger batteries available)
No internal memory
Summary: I've not used it in anger yet but these are my initial impressions.
I initially bought a dinky non HD Sony memory card camera as a replacement for my old brick. Despite being 8 years on, hoth having zeiss lenses and both being Sony, the picture was considerably worse than my 8 year old Sony DV camera. So much for progress.
Comet helpfully let me swap it for this (plus a few quid obviously). Full maks for service though.
Anyway - the JVC. Being HD, the picture quality is excellent. I've not tried 24mbps, but the lower setting is very clear and makes my old Sony look poor by comparison. Note - the manual recommends a class 6 card for 24mbps and most shops seem to only sell class 4's (online there is no price difference so I've ordered a class 6 16Gb card for the same price I paid for an class 4 4Gb). Also, in HD, the 4gb card they sold me will only record 30 mins (20 on max) so get yourself a 16Gb card.
Make sure you get a card with the camera as, unlike some, there is no internal memory at all, so it won't work without.
2 card slots means you can buy x2 cheaper cards rather than 1 larger one. It will also allow you to 'hot swap' allegedly but I can't see many home users needing this.
Filming is simple point and shoot as you'd expect, with complex features (most settings have a manual override) all hidden in the menus. most controls can be accessed via the touch sensitive buttons on the bottom of the screen and the touch slider (which has a funky blue light that follows your finger). The slider also allows you instant access to features such as zoom and face recognition, which is easier than using the zoom button on the top and avoids that shake you get when you have no adjust your hand to reach it.
The side handle is tensioned by a cord so you have the choice between a side handle, wrist strap or both.
Stills are only 2Gb but I have a proper still camera for proper pics and 2Gb is fine for snaps.
For uploading, you can't put the card straight into your PC as most (mine anyway) won't read HD format, but the camera conveniently powers from USB as you upload so there is no advantage to transferring without the camera. I've read a critisim that it doesn't have firewire but being SD driven rather than tape I can't see why you'd want it.
The only problem I've found so far, is that my 3Ghz P4 cpu can't cope with the recordings. Loading into Pinnacle, it's jumpy whereas it used to fly with standard DV. So I may end up needing to upgrade my PC - but then thats progress.