With Stephen Muratore, Jennifer O’Rourke and Charles Fulton

2004 was a year of exciting innovations and improvements in consumer video technology. This is great news for videographers, of course, but a difficult proposition for the editors of Videomaker, now that it’s time to hand out awards for the year’s best products. After much deliberation, we have managed to come up with an authoritative list of the best video production and editing products that we’ve covered in the past 12 issues. We think you’ll agree that these products represent the very best that 2004 had to offer in the world of consumer videography.

BEST Products Award Criteria

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For a product to qualify for an award, it must have shipped in the 2004 calendar year, and it must have passed through Videomaker headquarters for examination by our editors. From there, we judged products based on the following seven criteria:

Empowerment:
how effective the product is at helping videographers be more effective at video production.

Ease of Operation:
how user-friendly it is.

Affordability:
the product must provide a good value for the price.

Quality:
it must be put together well, durable and show excellence in its category.

Innovation:
it should have some inventive or original features.

Dependability:
it needs to be able to endure the rigors of active video production.

Performance:
It must work consistently and effectively.

BEST CAMCORDER UNDER $500
JVC GR-D33

Today’s big-box consumer electronics outlets are full of feature-rich digital camcorders that cost about the same as your average home television. Topping the list, and taking this year’s Best Camcorder Under $500 award, is JVC’s GR-D33. This little gem offers 16:1 optical zoom, a good f/1.6 lens, a bright 2.5-inch LCD monitor that’s easy to see in daylight, a built-in video light, manual controls, and a handful of digital effects, wipes and fades. With the GR-D33, JVC reminds us that it’s amazing how much you can get for so little in today’s camcorder marketplace.

Our congratulations go out to all of our 2004 Best Products of the Year winners. With the fast changes in products and technology, this was a difficult decision for the Videomaker editors to make, and there are many more products developing every day that will challenge our staff in the future. While we could only select one product in each category as the Best this year could offer, many products excelled in every category. 2004 was a standout year for innovations, and saw the line between consumer and professional products diminish even more. What will the future bring? Look to 2005 to see high definition video products become more plentiful and more affordable, and watch for prices of even the most advanced equipment and software to fall to the level that everyone can afford. Watch for our in-depth reviews every month in our Test Bench section of every issue of Videomaker magazine.

–The Editors

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.