You already have a hi-def video recorder on your phone already, so why do you need a camcorder? Because you'll end up with better footage, for one thing. If size has put you off using a camcorder, the JVC’s compact form might win you over.
Its 10x optical zoom can’t compete with the Panasonic V720’s longer reach but the JVC makes up for that with an impressive list of features, including time-lapse, stop-frame animation recording, plus Wi-Fi skills that can beam live images to a smartphone or broadcast to the web.
In use the JVC is a canny operator that’s not easily befuddled. Auto-focus is rapid, even when using the zoom.The image stabilisation is calm and even appears intelligent, sensing when you want to pan and when you want to stay locked onto a particular point.
Colours are rendered fairly cautiously but still have more punch than the Panasonic’s. Detail remains sharp until you push into the realms of the digital zoom, but even that is worth using in an emergency. The Wi-Fi skills, combined with the free Android and iOS app are welcome but fiddly to set up. What might swing it for the JVC are those extras that lend it an additional creative edge, and a battery that keeps shooting for an hour and a half.
However, it's disappointing that the JVC's progressive shooting is limited to the iMovie-friendly iFrame format in 720p resolution. Its 1080i/50fps footage looks superb on a TV, but because it's interlaced it's not ideal for playing back on a computer.
The VX815 is a worthwhile step up from a compact camera or smartphone, but its video quality is beaten by the Panasonic HC-V720 and even the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V compact camera.