Though flash-memory and high-definition camcorders are beginning to emerge as the future of home video recording, there's still plenty of room for standard definition models to find some love. The cost alone is enough to send most consumers running back to the affordable domain of MiniDV cassettes and video.
The JVC Everio GR-D850 is an excellent standard definition camcorder, providing users with enough power to take crisp, high-quality video without requiring that they invest an exorbitant amount of money.
Design: Nimble, yet Sturdy
The GR-D850 is quite small and relatively lightweight, though slightly more solid that its peers. Most MiniDV camcorders of this type have a tall profile; the GRD-850 instead opts for a squarer, more balanced form factor. This makes it easy to grip and grasp, ensuring tight control when shooting and easy access to the camcorder's features.
It's designed for simple operation, with only a few buttons and an easy-to-use joystick located near the 2.7-inch widescreen LCD. The LCD display performs very well, thankfully, as the GRD-850 lacks an optical viewfinder. In bright sunlight, it's perfectly readable and can be toggled between widescreen 16:9 and full screen 4:3 aspect ratios at the touch of a buton.
Performance: Pristine Picture Quality
The JVC Everio GR-D850 succeeds in recording crisp, pristine video that most users would find very satisfying. The colors seem bright and vivid, and most importantly, stable. There were no traces of significant shakes or jitters in our tests, even when we made use of the camcorder's ample 35x optical zoom. The GR-D850 keeps everything in line and in focus.
It's easy to make adjustments to the camera's picture settings while shooting, too. JVC has designed and excellent menu system, and the way the joystick controls are laid out, it's no trouble at all to quickly and accurately access and change settings to address the needs of your scene.
Upside/Downside: The Battery
The JVC GR-D850's battery pack could be an upside or a downside, depending on what you value more in a camcorder. The battery pack gives enough power to last for 115 minutes of shooting time. That's above average for a camcorder of this class. The downside is that the battery is somewhat heavier and bulkier than those found on other camcorders with shorter lifespans. It's not a backbreaking addition to the camcorder by any means, but it is substantial enough that it's worth considering.
Conclusion: Looks Good
If simple, affordable video is what you want, the JVC Everio GR-D850 is an excellent option, and should hold you over until those HD flash-memory models come way down in price.