JVC GZ-VX700 Review
Laborious setup process aside, this camcorder's WiFi capabilities are actually pretty cool.
If you're a follower of cutting-edge technology, you may have heard a few peeps about JVC's new line of "WiFi-enabled" Everio camcorders, of which the GZ-VX700 is a proud member. The VX700 isn’t the cheapest of JVC’s 2012 Everio models, but it comes with a modest $499 price tag, which is a bit under the competition.
To keep those costs low, however, JVC included no internal memory on the VX700, so you need to add in the cost of memory cards to get your total package. The performance of the camcorder, as well as its cheap construction, didn’t leave us with a strong impression, but the WiFi features are actually kinda cool once you get through the arduous setup process.
Design & Usability
Cheap construction and slow response time with touch-buttons make for a frustrating handling experience.
The GZ-VX700 has a slim, rectangular design that makes it more portable than your average mid-range HD camcorder. The design is thin enough to carry the VX700 around in your pocket—granted you're not wearing skinny jeans—and you'd have no problem lugging this light device in a purse or handbag. While the portability of the product is great, the durability concerns raised by the camcorder's cheap construction have me worried. The touchscreen interface is slow and unresponsive, the camcorder body is easy to bang up, and the hand strap is barely more than a flimsy slip of rope, roughly as thick as a shoelace.
I can't stress enough the difficulty working with the VX700's touchscreen. The screen exhibited such a terrible response that I often found myself pressing buttons three or four times before the camcorder responded. Even something like navigating the menu system, a process that should be the very essence of simple, is an absolute chore, thanks to the unresponsive screen and limited processing power. Want to change controls during video recording? Forget it. The camcorder's menu will respond like it's on the verge of crashing.
Here’s the camcorder in a nutshell: if you’re a beginner with no interest in adjusting controls or using special features, you’ll probably be fine with the way the VX700 works. But if you’re more of an explorer who likes to test out special options, then you’re going to have to prepare yourself for a frustrating ride.
Other than the new built-in WiFi features, the VX700 doesn't have much to set it apart from the crowd.
The most elaborate new feature on the JVC Everio GZ-VX700 is undoubtedly the camcorder's built-in WiFi function. The WiFi components can be very difficult to setup, but once that phase is complete, the VX700 can do some very cool stuff. You can even set the camcorder up in your home and directly monitor what the VX700 sees from another location via the web—great for home monitoring, although JVC warns you shouldn't use the GZ-VX700 for security purposes. A simpler feature involves pairing the camcorder with your smartphone, allowing you to use your phone as a remote control and viewfinder. Like I said, these features can be a huge pain to setup, and it does require quite a bit of tech know-how to get everything going, but if you can get past that, you may have some fun.
JVC also included a few other random options on the VX700, but none of them blew us away. The camcorder has the ability to record both HD and SD video, low-quality slow motion mode, and a bunch of still image settings (including a time lapse mode). The camcorder also offers quite a few manual controls, but the terrible user interface makes many of these features a nuisance to work with.
Mediocre motion and sharpness scores, but surprisingly efficient low light performance.
Color accuracy was not the VX700’s strong suit, which is a surprise considering its “big brother” model, the JVC GZ-GX1, did rather well in our color tests. Despite the poor color accuracy, the VX700 produced images with plenty of saturation in both bright and low light.
Thanks to the camcorder’s wide lens, the VX700 performed impressively in low light, and putting up better numbers than most of the competition in the $500 price range. In bright light, the camcorder managed some lovely shots in our motion test, but the lack of any additional frame rates really brings the VX700 down. A lot of camcorder users are hoping to mimic the look of film these days, and you can't do that without a good 24p mode—which this camcorder lacks.
If you’re looking for a budget camcorder, we recommend staying away from the JVC VX700. There are better options at hand.
What JVC did to expand the capabilities of WiFi on consumer camcorders is great, but the Everio GZ-VX700 has few other redeeming qualities. Poor color accuracy in bright light, middling image sharpness, and terrible handling issues haunt the camcorder to the point that we're not comfortable recommending it—even if it is a good deal cheaper than the competition. The camcorder's solid low light performance was surprising, but even that result is overshadowed by the incredibly frustrating user interface.
If you’re looking for a budget camcorder, there are plenty of other options. Entry-level camcorders like the Panasonic HC-V500M, Canon HF R30, and Sony HDR-CX210 are all better products in the same price range. Even a mid-range model like the HC-V700M from Panasonic can be found for less than $500 if you shop around, and it's a far-superior option to the JVC VX700.
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