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Questions about Jazz HDV178

I received the following comment today and wanted to respond:

"You got to give me some insight... PLEASE! I have read so many reviews and got the good, the bad, and the ugly. How does your jazz stack up? I've heard some negative things about it and wanted to know if you're familiar with multiple brands and their specifics? Things that are important to me are low light capabilities, overall easiness, minimal pixalation, and good audio. I'm very close to buying the flip but would like to get more advice. I've been researching all weekend and ready to purchase, I'm just not 100 percent sure yet about which brand. Please email me at (removed)

Dustin "

Hey Dustin, first I have a couple of posts related to the Jazz HDV178. You can find them all here:

You may especially want to check out the HDV178 vs Flip Video review I did and jump over to see the comparison video on Vimeo. There are also example pictures and videos in some of the other posts. I'll let you check them out at your leisure.

I'd say that if you are already comfortable with camcorders and video editing, the HDV178 is a pretty good deal. I've also heard good stuff about some of the Apitek cameras, but haven't used any of them myself. If you don't already have some editing software and experience working with MPEG4 AVI files, then I'd look at the Flip Ultra. It's a great and easy to use camera, and you can get a good deal when they're on sale. Just remember they don't come with rechargeable batteries, so if that's important, you'll need to buy a set. The software that comes with the Flip is pretty basic, but it does work pretty well. Here is a sample video I shot with a Flip. The zoom at the end was done in Vegas, not on the camera, but you can see these cams work best on nearby subjects. (Most of the pixelation in this clip is caused by encoding this on Revver. )

If you're really hung on low light support, no grain, and good audio, you may need to look into spending another hundred or so and find a full sized camcorder that has support for flash memory. Most of these low end flash camcorders are going to get grainy especially in low light, and the integrated mics are cheap.

My only gripes about the HDV178 are:
  • Annoying startup noise
  • Odd mic placement. (It's on top, not the front, so your thumb can make mic noise. It's probably there to allow you to voice over and be heard, but it makes you come out louder than your subject if you're not mindful of it.)
  • Videos need transcoded to common format for most uses. (software is included, so not a big deal for me)
  • Cheap build quality. (mostly plastic, could be easy to break, but this is the case on any cheap camcorder)

These things being said...I still think it's a great and fun little camera for the I'm pretty satisfied with it.

One thing to consider, is how are you planning to share these videos? If you're going to put them on a HDTV, you may want to look at a real camcorder. If you're just going to look at them on a standard def TV or by putting them on a flash based website like YouTube, Revver, or Vimeo, then the videos will look fine, you probably won't notice the lower quality after the video has been compressed by the host site anyway. Higher quality never hurts though.

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