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: Models : Camcorder Formats : Media : Camcorder Features

How to Choose a Camcorder –– page 7 of 9

Digital Camcorders - Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

Hard disk drive based camcorders are the latest to arrive (JVC in 2005, Sony and Toshiba in 2006) with capacities of 20, 30 and 60GB. No tape and no disc - these camcorders use internal hard disk to capture video. The JVC GZ-MG30 has a built-in 30GB hard-drive that is capable of recording up to 37 hours of video in a palm-sized, lightweight (14 ounce) digital-camcorder. You don't need to use replaceable tapes or discs. Instead, you can transfer images to other Audio/Video devices at home (VCR, DVD) through composite and S-Video ports or to your computer through the USB 2.0 high-speed interface. 

If you can fit a 60 GB hard disk into an Apple iPod portable music player, then you should be able to fit one into a camcorder. JVC was first to market with this disk-based approach, with the JVC Everio digital media cameras, with palm-size form factors and weighing under 14 ounces. The JVC Everios are small and light because they get rid of the bulky camcorder tape transport and replace it with a small hard drive. The initial C Series products were released in October 2004, and use a removable 4 GB Microdrive Compact-Flash card for storage (along with a Secure-Digital card for images). The G series, introduced in August 2005, upgrades to built-in 20 GB and 30 GB hard disks. Sony has since introduced a 60 GB model.

JVC - C Series

was the first company to market a consumer level camera which did not use tape or even DVD to record video but used instead a 4GB Microdrive, which is a mini hard disk drive originally designed by IBM. Movies are saved in MPEG-2 format and you can store a full hour of high quality video on the disk. Other features include a 10X optical zoom lens, full manual controls, SD memory card slot (in addition to the CompactFlash slot used by the Microdrive), pop-up flash, and unique swivel body. 

With a price of over $1,500.00 at launch, this was not the best value for the average consumer. The dimensions of the GZ-MC500 are just 3.2 x 2.2 x 4.7 inches (W x H x D) and it weighs just 11.7 ounces (330 grams). That's smaller and lighter than your typical tape or DVD-based camcorder.

JVC's Everio GZ-MC500, which relies on MicroDrives for storage and has three separate CCD sensors at 1.3 Megapixel each.

JVC's hard drive based camcorder, the Everio GZ-MC500, sporting 3 CCDs and 4 GB of storage is similar to the single-CCD Everio camcorders launched in the fall of 2004. The GZ-MC500 is capable of recording up to 60 minutes of DVD-resolution video at 720 x 576 pixels onto a 4 GB Microdrive. New as of the 2005 model is the three separate 1.33 Megapixel CCD imaging censors, catering separately to red, green and blue colors. In addition to video, the GZ-MC500 also combines and interpolates data from all three sensors to achieve pictures with resolutions up to 2560 x 1920 pixels, or 5.1 Megapixels.
According to JVC, this approach results in several benefits over previous models, including sharper and more vivid colors. A 10x optical zoom (8x for stills) JVC lens comes in handy for close-ups, and shoots video in native 4:3 or 16:9 formats.

At its highest quality mode, the GZ-MC500 records at a fixed data rate of 8.88 Mbps including Dolby Digital audio (8.5 Mbps video plus 384 Kbps Dolby Digital Audio) at 50i FPS and a resolution of 720 x 576, which is comparable to DVD quality video. At this setting, JVC lists the GZ-MC500 as capable of storing up to one hour of video on a 4 GB MicroDrive, which can easily be exchanged. If you prefer quantity over quality, the GZ-MC500 can also muster a lowest setting of 30p FPS, a data rate of 1.5 Mbps and resolution of 352 x 240 pixels, which should allow for up to 5 hours of video.

Due to its use of hard drives as the storage medium of choice, the GZ-MC500 is also equipped with a floating suspension system to dampen vibrations through polymer shock absorbers that automatically engage when the disk is writing/reading and disengage to allow disk ejection/loading. The GZ-MC500 supports the USB 2.0 High Speed standard for high speed data transfer to your Mac or PC. The 1.8 inch LCD has 130,000 pixels. There is no viewfinder.

What's in the Box

  • JVC GZ-MC500 Digital Media Camera
  • 4GB Hitachi Microdrive with protective case
  • BN-VM200 lithium-ion battery
  • AC Adapter / battery charger
  • USB cable
  • A/V + S-Video cable
  • Audio extension cable (for optional headphones)
  • Lens cap w/strap
  • Lens hood
  • Wrist strap
  • CD-ROMs with Digital Photo Navigator, PowerDVD 5, Power Director Express, and PowerProducer 2 Gold (for Windows OS)
  • 63 page camera manual + separate software installation manual

JVC - G Series

In May 2005, JVC introduced four hard disk based camcorders, the GZ-MG20, GZ-MG30, GZ-MG40, and GZ-MG50. The camcorders record video to internal hard drives. The GZ-MG20 and GZ-MG40 have a 20GB internal hard drive while the GZ-MG30 and GZ-MG50 have 30GB internal hard drives. The camcorders include 1.8" hard drives, manufactured by Hitachi.

Each is truly palm-sized and weighs less than 14 oz. with the battery attached. Their design is similar to a MiniDV camcorder’s, which means that they’re comfortable to hold and operate, and include a large, 2.5-inch flip-out LCD monitor for easy recording.

Playback is easy, too, with multiple connections allowing convenient TV playback, dubbing to a VCR or DVD recorder, transfer to a PC or Apple Macintosh for DVD creation, editing, or posting on the internet, or even burned directly without a PC to a full length movie DVD disc using an optional DVD burner.

MPEG-2 Video Recording for DVD-Movie Quality Footage

Because of the hard drive mechanism the camcorders are very small and lightweight (14 oz.).
These internal Hard Drive-based camcorders are the third generation of JVC's Everio camcorders. The first two models recorded onto a removable Microdrive. Then JVC introduced a higher-end 3 CCD Everio camcorder. These internal Hard Drive-based camcorders increase the storage capacity greatly, as the earlier JVC Everio models included 4 GB Microdrives. However, unlike the earlier Everios, the media in these camcorders is not removable. While the models do include an SD card slot, providing some removable and expandable storage, the internal hard drives are fixed. 

Each model includes a 2.5 inch LCD screen, a USB 2.0 jack for connecting the camcorder to a computer for transferring video, an S-Video jack, and a composite RCA video out jack.  The camcorders include manual control of white balance, shutter speed, aperture, focus and some gain control.

The GZ-MG20 launched at $800, while the GZ-MG30 and GZ-MG40 were $900, and the GZ-MG50 was $1,000. All four models were available in August 2005. JVC has since introduced more models including the newer GZ-MG70. 

For 2006, the GZ-MG77, along with the GZ-MG37, GZ-MG27 and GZ-MG21 include enhanced features such as the LCD mounted 4-way mini-joystick for control.

The Everio G series JVC GZ-MG50 and JVC GZ-MG30 offer over seven hours storage at 9 Mbps, which is close to the maximum bit rate for DVD movie quality recording, or 10.5 hours at 6 Mbps, comparable to DVD Cam recordings. Two more modes are available for even more recording time. The entry level JVC GZ-MG40 and JVC GZ-MG20 offer an impressive 4.5 hours storage at 9 Mbps, and over seven hours at 6 Mbps. Either way, the high quality MPEG-2 recordings are in the same format used in DVD so there will be no quality loss when burning them to DVD, and no time- and quality-wasting conversion. 

JVC HDD Camcorder Shooting time (normal use)


Mode Setting

GZ-MG50 /GZ-MG30 GZ-MG40 / GZ-MG20 Bit rate Mbps*
Ultra (DVD Movie) 7 hours 4.5 hours 9
Fine (DVD) 10.5 hours 7 hours 6
Norm (TV) 14 hours 9 hours 4.5
Eco (Internet) 37 hours 25 hours 1.7

*Combined A/V rates, Video Bit rate is fixed for Ultra and Fine modes, variable for Norm and Eco modes.

JPEG Digital Still Camera Function

The JVC GZ-MG50 and JVC MG40 are equipped with 1.33 Megapixel CCD to allow digital still shooting at 1152 x 864, 1024 x 768, or 640 x 480 size. At each size, two resolution modes are available: STD and FINE. Digital stills or video can be stored on either the internal hard drive or removable SD Memory Card (optional), whichever is more convenient. The JVC GZ-MG30 and JVC MG20 offer shooting of 640 x 480 digital stills. For quick downloading to a PC, simply connect the camera via its USB 2.0 interface. All transfer is digital-to-digital (approx 4x or better real time speed depending on PC), so there is no quality lost in the process. And since the camera supports PictBridge, it can be connected via the USB terminal to a compatible printer to easily print stills directly from the camera.

Make Full-length DVDs Easily, With or Without a computer

In a unique collaboration with Apacer Technology Inc., JVC and Apacer developed a new DVD video burner that connects directly from the Everio G. Just select the playlist or file, or simply copy it all – one touch creates a full length video DVD to watch on a DVD player, with no need for a personal computer.

For those who want to edit with a computer, JVC includes software for use with both the Windows® and Macintosh platforms. Provided Pixela Capty MPEG Edit EX and optional Capty DVD for making DVD Video software provide seamless integration into the Apple Macintosh computer world. Of course Everio G is compatible with iPhoto for still pictures.

For Windows® PCs, the CyberLink DVD Solution bundled with Everio G models comprises three applications that make it easy to make full-length DVD movies. A standard 4.7GB single-layer DVD-R/RW disc holds over one hour of an Ultra mode movie, and over 90 minutes of a Fine mode movie.

JVC Everio GZ-MG30 
30 GB Hard Disk Drive Camcorder
  • 30 GB hard-drive camcorder; high-quality MPEG-2 recording
  • F1.8 lens, 680K CCD, 25x optical zoom, 800x digital zoom
JVC Everio GZ-MG77 
30 GB Hard Disk Drive Camcorder

Random Access to Recordings

The benefits of recording video to a hard disk are the same benefits that have made hard disk-based audio players so popular--random access to quickly locate desired material, and the ability to effortlessly delete unwanted material and easily rearrange the playback sequence. What’s more, there’s no danger of mistakenly recording over something that’s to be saved. Scene selection is made easy thanks to on-screen index images, so the large amount recorded won’t become a hindrance to quick accessibility. And with remote control operation, it is possible to connect the Everio G camcorder to a TV and operate it from a distance, just like a DVD deck. Playlist operation allows recording of desired clips directly to DVD with the optional DVD burner, or directly to VHS or other analog input devices with the S-Video or Composite video output for perfect copies every time. 

Hard-Disk Protection and Stability

A challenge in designing and building a hard-disk camcorder is protecting the disk from shocks and vibrations. One way this is done in the Everio G camcorders is through a unique floating suspension system that effectively dampens vibrations through advanced polymer shock absorbers. Another security measure familiar to notebook PC users is its gravity-like force sensor system that automatically senses sudden acceleration such as in a free fall situation, and turns off the power to defend the hard disk so that a head crash can be avoided in many cases even when the unit is dropped. 

What's in the Box

Everio GZ-MG30, AC power adapter/battery charger, BN-VF707 rechargeable battery pack, AV cable, USB cable, remote control, shoulder strap, grip belt, lens cap, software CD-ROM (USB driver, Digital Photo Navigator: Windows, CyberLink DVD Solution: Windows, PIXELA Capty MPEG Edit EX: Mac)

JVC’s Everio camcorder now makes it easier to burn videos straight from it’s onboard hard drive thanks to the Everio CU-VD10 Share Station. The Share Station is a DVD burner designed specifically for use with JVC Everio G-Series camcorders.  Connected via USB 2.0, the Everio Share Station will create a DVD that has direct access to scenes, easy re-sequencing of scenes, and instant scene deletion. Once connected, the camcorder automatically identifies the DVD burner and is used to control it with a menu that appears on the camcorder’s LCD, and with the push of a button, one hour of video clips are burned to a blank DVD-R/RW disc in about 45 minutes.

The JVC CU-VD10 Everio Share Station.


Jumping into the hard drive camcorder market, Sony made a grand entry with the 3-Megapixel Handycam DCR-S100 capable of recording up to seven hours of DVD quality video.

Offering up some serious competition for Sanyo and its Xacti HD1 as well as JVC's line-up of Everio camcorders, Sony introduced its first hard-drive based camcorder in the Handycam DCR-S100. This camcorder is equipped with a 3 Megapixel CCD sensor and 30 GB hard drive.

Built around a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens, the Advanced HAD CCD sensor of the DCR-S100 allows for recording in 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. A 30 GB hard drive complete with shock protection provides enough storage for up to 7 hours of DVD quality recording or a whopping 21 hours in long play mode, with audio being delivered courtesy of built-in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Also, the camcorder is compatible with a new, optional center-channel Bluetooth microphone from Sony.

Users will be able to view their video on the built-in 2.7-inch swivel screen display, and also brighten their recordings courtesy of a built-in flash. To come bundled with DVD making software, the DCR-S100 incorporates a dedicated direct-to-DVD button which fully automates the process of creating a DVD through a one-button press.

Available May, 2006 the Sony Handycam DCR-S100 initially retails in the $1,000 range.

The Sony DCR-SR80 houses a 60GB Hard Disk Drive (HDD) which stores up to 40 hours of high-quality videos in standard 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen formats. With 12x Optical/800x Digital Zoom and a Carl Zeiss® Vario-Tessar® Lens. Plus, sharing everything you've captured with family, colleagues and friends has never been easier with One Touch DVD Burn capabilities. You can burn directly from the camcorder or the Handycam® Station cradle. Additionally, you can connect to a DVDirect burner to create DVDs without having to connect to a PC.

Sony's unique DVDirect (DVD Direct) family of multi-function DVD recorders can be used to record video or even digital photos (MC1 only) directly to DVD - without a computer. They can also be connected to a computer for making copies of your DVDs and creating advanced DVD projects.

The VRD-VC20 sports a unique vertical design - simply connect your camcorder, VCR, even PVR to the recorder and press the REC button on the front while starting playback of the video. Press stop when you're done and you'll have a DVD that can be played in a standard DVD player.

The VRD-MC1 allows recording both video from a camcorder/VCR/PVR to DVD video as well as recording of digital still pictures from your digital camera's memory card as a slideshow DVD. The MC1 can even directly print pictures from memory cards or DVD when connected to a PictBridge compatible printer.

Built in color LCD screen makes it a snap to preview video or digital pictures. The new Sony DVDirect™ MC1 allows both video and digital photos to be recorded to DVD without using a PC. The MC1 has video inputs on one side for direct connection of a camcorder/VCR/PVR for easy direct recording of video to DVD+R/+RW discs. The MC1 also has memory card slots for the 5 popular camera memory cards and will directly record images from the memory card to DVD-R/-RW as a DVD slideshow. The Sony DVDirect VRD-MC3 model.

2006 SONY DCR-SR80 Hard Disk Drive Camcorder

The DCR-SR80, DCR-SR60 and DCR-SR40 hard drive models have extraordinary recording times and eliminate the need to manage removable media, such as tapes or discs.

The 60GB hard drive of the DCR-SR80 camcorder captures up to 41 hours of video in long-play mode (3Mbps) or up to 14 hours of footage in high quality mode (9Mbps). The DCR-SR60 and the DCR-SR40 models have comparable recording times with 30GB -- up to 20 hours of footage in long play mode and more than seven hours in high quality mode.

2007 SONY DCR-SR42, DCR-SR82 and DCR-SR200, DCR-SR300 HDD camcorders

Sony DCR-SR300 HDD camcorder


2006 Toshiba GSC-R60 Camcorder

Key Features of Toshiba 60GB HDD camcorder


  • 60GB hard disc drive
  • 2-megapixel CCD
  • SD card slot
  • USB 2.0 high-speed interface
  • 2.5-inch diagonal TFT LCD monitor
  • Electronic Image Stabilization
  • Ethernet connection (on included cradle only)

Product Description

Records video to a built-in 60GB hard disk drive * 10X optical zoom lens (digital zoom to 200X) * 2.12-megapixel CCD (1.25 effective) * digital photo mode * 2-1/2" LCD * widescreen (16:9) shooting mode * wind noise reduction * auto and manual focus * audio/video output (including S-video) * high-speed USB interface on included cradle *

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Camcorder Connections and Accessories