New year, new Everios.

With some revolutionary HD tech at the lofty heights of the Everio range JVC has turned its attention to tweaking the Everyman cams, with new models announced at the world's largest consumer tech show in Vegas.

The first to hit the UK's shores is the budget MG330, part of a range that extends up to the Full HD GD7 model.

The essence of the Everio remains - a 30GB HDD using MPEG2 compression - however, there are some outstanding cosmetic tweaks and a new lens system to serve up unrivalled video.

Design and layout

The most striking aspect of this latest range of Everio cams is the new slender chassis. Trimming down significantly from previous incarnations the MG330 is a pocket-sized powerhouse barely bigger than an average palm. It's lightweight too; just 360g (including battery) to be exact, and when combined with the tiny dimensions makes for a highly portable video solution.

Open the LCD and there are more surprises. The new operating system is unlike anything seen on a camcorder to date, and finally we have an interface that challenges the usability and cool factor of the Sony LCD touchscreen menu.

Laser Touch Operation combined with a menu and a selection button lets you gracefully slide through the menu options and operate the manual functions by tapping the demarcated areas of the LCD. The MG330 is also pretty stylish to boot, with a smart brush metal finish and a polished ebony finish on the inside of the LCD.

Features

The talking point here is the new lens system. Allied to a 1/6in, 800,000 pixel CCD, JVC has adopted Konica Minolta lens technology to give your videos and stills - saved to either HDD or Micro SD - a bit more zing. This lens offers a 32x optical zoom that is enough push for any kind of close-up without overstretching capability.

The MG330 is the entry-level model, so the hard disk is the smallest in the range. That said, 30GB isn't exactly small, and shooting in the best quality you can still enjoy up to seven hours of home movies.

The remainder of the features list is impressive for a cam of this price, but provides few surprises. Variable shutter speeds, manual focus and white balance are all on board if you want more control over your movies, but there is an Auto mode to take the pressure of perfect pictures from the camera operator.

Performance

The Everio range has had a great deal of success but previously it had earned quite a few favours thanks to fantastic ease of use and massive storage capacity and not always on best-quality video, essentially redefining how family camcorders were used but not always pushing boundaries in terms of performance.

Now, however, the MG330 offers the complete package. Providing the very best in ease of use and price, the video performance is also first rate. Even in the darkened corners colours hold together well and there is little evidence of grain.

Well-defined images combine with quick-response auto functions and a powerful zoom that is only prone to shake at the fullest extension.

Stills have also stepped things up a gear, with images that are perfectly fine for emailing and sharing online. Printing reveals some faults with colour but it's good enough to make you consider ditching two compacts in favour of this slimline cam.

Conclusion

Everio has really hit the pace with a striking entry-level model that offers hours of smart-looking footage in a smart-looking body.

Home editors will still want to consider mini DV as even though there are plenty of ways to convert MOD files it is still not as simple as transferring DV footage to your PC or Mac edit suite. Even so, everyday users won't look back. The MG330 is a great buy.