4.5 star rating

JVC GR-D850 Review

Pros: Widescreen and standard aspect ratio modes; Vivid LCD display works well in sunlight; Satisfying image quality and stability; Extra-long battery life;
Cons: No viewfinder; VGA-quality still photos;
The Verdict: Small and steady, the JVC GR-D850 is an affordable winner.



JVC’s GR-D850 is a refreshingly unpretentious camcorder that not only keeps its operation simple and direct, but provides excellent, high-quality video as well. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend and like the versatility of the MiniDV format, this is the camcorder to get.

Article Continued Below


At 17 ounces, the GR-D850 is slightly heavier than its peers, the Canon ZR950 and the Sony DCR-HC62 Handycam, and JVC has designed it to be squarer and thicker than its tall, thin counterparts. Despite its portly design, this camcorder is still very comfortable to hold and carry. The shape of the device makes it easier to grip and gives the impression of greater control over the taller models; it feels like the difference between grasping a football and palming a basketball.


The GR-D850 isn’t cluttered with buttons and switches. Most of the major functions are assigned to a simple directional joystick on the LCD bezel, which can adjust the focus, enable backlight compensation, trigger the LED light for illumination, and do a quick review of the most recent footage recorded. The LCD bezel also features a button that allows the user to quickly switch between the 16:9 widescreen and 4:3 square aspect ratios. Advanced features like exposure adjustments and video effects can be accessed through the easily navigable menu system.

Outdoor-Friendly LCD

The 2.7-inch widescreen LCD display itself is also quite impressive. It provides an excellent image even in direct sunlight, something the ZR950 and DCR-HC62 had difficulty with and which the Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG9 and Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra were unable to do. This is especially critical considering the JVC camcorder doesn’t have a viewfinder.

Very Good Performance

Compared to other budget camcorders we’ve tested, the JVC GR-D850 offers superior video quality. Video taken with the GR-D850 looked bright and true to life, with vivid colors and superior definition. Because accessing the camera’s settings is so simple, making adjustments to compensate for environmental factors like bright light or deep shadow was a snap. Because it also accepts SD Cards, the camera is capable of taking still photos, but they’re only VGA quality.

The camcorder’s 35X optical zoom also stood out as an exceptional feature. Even at full extension, the shots were crisp, in focus, and free from significant jitters or shakes. Much of this stability is probably owed to the extra heft the GR-D850 carries. JVC’s NightAlive didn’t fare as well as Sony’s NightShot: It seemed to slow down the frame rate, making the video stutter and appear choppy. However, its Tele Macro mode was more useful and effective than Sony’s. The lighter Canon ZR950 and Sony DCR-HC62 did not perform as well on long zoom shots. The GR-D850 also has the longest battery life of the bunch, at 115 minutes, a full half-hour longer than the next best, the DCR-HC62.


With excellent ergonomics and endurance, and better video quality than more-expensive competitors, the JVC GR-D850 is a bargain at $229. While it may be a little bit bulkier, you—as well as everyone you show your vacation videos to—will appreciate the steadier shots.

Tags: JVC GR-D850, JVC, budget camcorders, Camcorders, reviews, Digital Cameras and Camcorders

Technical Specifications

Size4.7 x 2.9 x 2.7 inches
Weight17 ounces
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options